Sleep or Shut Off my iBook?
April 20, 2005 11:20 AM   Subscribe

Shoud I put my iBook to sleep, or shut it down, when I'm done with it?

I've heard varying accounts, as well as differing personal experiences.

Basically, I'd appreciate both anecdotal and hard data, if either exists.

Security is not a concern -- the laptop's battery lock had the surrounding circle snap off, meaning the battery is more prone to falling out. Thus, the laptop usually doesn't leave my apartment. (And, besides, there's a password-protection feature in the OS somewhere, right? Password on waking from sleep? I've got Mac OS 10.3.9.)

I get the sense, when I put it to sleep, that it will still generate heat, whereas shutting it off would not. I don't know if this is utter B.S. or not.

Also, I also don't know if some process will decide to make it wake up or not, which could be a slight annoyance if the light from the LCD screen decides to broadcast itself across the apartment at 3:00 pm.

On the other hand, I imagine shutting it off and then turning it back on is probably a strain on various components. And I keep hearing about Mac owners and Linux users who are so proud of their "uptime," so keeping it on can't be all that bad.

My Google-fu on this particular problem is a bit weak, so any links to other people's examinations of the problem would be appreciated, as well as any thoughtful analyses.

(I do have a cat, but he has been pretty good about staying away from the computer, so I don't think that would factor into the problem.)
posted by WCityMike to Computers & Internet (18 answers total)
Response by poster: Er, that should be 3:00 am. Sorry.
posted by WCityMike at 11:31 AM on April 20, 2005

I've hardly ever shut mine down in the 3 years I've owned it. The battery is only just now showing signs of age.

I doubt that there are ill effects either way. Extending battery life is more a matter of leaving it plugged in as much as possible. I find the "instant-on" convenience of returning from sleep to be the Number One Thing I appreciate about the iBook as compared to various Windows-based notebooks I've used (and I've used a lot).
posted by dragstroke at 11:32 AM on April 20, 2005

Sleep mode provides power to the system RAM so that the state that you left the computer in can be quickly recovered. Since the processor and drives aren't running, there isn't any significant amount of heat generated. There is, however, a nominal power draw on either the battery or your AC power.

Unless you have the "wake on [event]" options set up in System Preferences, the iBook will only wake itself up if it detects input; a key press, a trackpad click, or the lid opening. It won't typically wake up in the middle of the night without deliberate use (unless your cat does step on the keyboard.)

There's no real disadvantage to using sleep as opposed to powering it up, and there's one very real advantage -- your iBook should come out of sleep by the time the lid's fully raised, whereas powering it up will take 45-60 seconds. I get the impression most Power/iBook users do in fact use sleep unless they're going to leave the computer off for a lengthy amount of time.
posted by eschatfische at 11:37 AM on April 20, 2005

Here's some purely anecdotal evidence:

I've had my iBook for 2-1/2 years. (3-1/2 years? I forget.)

In that time, I've only ever shut it off to install something or to... Well, I'm not sure that I've ever shut it off for anything else.

Basically, I leave it on. When I'm done, I close the lid. When I need it, I open the lid and it's ready to go thanks to Apple's marvelous instant-on tech. (Maybe PCs have this now; they never used to.)

I don't think that it's a problem.

(I'm more worried about the fact that I leave my iBook plugged in constantly. Then again, things seem fine, even after a couple of years.)
posted by jdroth at 11:39 AM on April 20, 2005

I'll join the throng: I never shut down my powerbook except when I screw something up or install a patch (and, of course, when I install Tiger next week, woot!).

The only issue I ran into is that I left my PB in a bag for about four days when I went on vacation, and it drained the battery (it was probably at about 3/4 when I put it to sleep). OS X should really handle that a little more gracefully (maybe an emergency save-to-disk mode) instead of just shutting down hard.

Anyway, no heat, no nothing. My only issue with sleep is the outrageously bright, pulsing light on the powerbook. I have to cover it with something when I sleep.
posted by socratic at 11:57 AM on April 20, 2005

I restart my powerbook if/when I need to install system updates or when memory seems sluggish. In the 3+ years I've had it, however, the only times I've ever turned it off are a select few occasions when I've known that it wouldn't be used for extended periods of time (e.g. a week or so).
posted by Hankins at 12:32 PM on April 20, 2005

To offer a minority opinion - while in college I left my iBook running or in sleep mode literally from the moment I took it out of the box and turned it on. (Great stability and instant-on is marvelous...) Unfortunately, by the time it got to be 3+ years old the battery was completely useless. It would charge up full and initally report a couple hours of time, but really would only last as little as half an hour.

Eventually I broke down and spent a hundred bucks for new battery, and now I turn it off if I know I won't be using it for a decent length of time (say overnight.) Eh, 3 years for a battery is probably pretty good.
posted by lpqboy at 12:32 PM on April 20, 2005

Never power off my PB, always just let it go to sleep.

I, too, have to cover the throbbing white light, but only when it's in a room in which I'm having sex.

I get the feeling it's watching me otherwise, and also judging.
posted by wolftrouble at 12:35 PM on April 20, 2005

I never turn my iBook off. Ever. Never had a problem. Make of it what you will.
posted by justgary at 12:39 PM on April 20, 2005

There seems to be consensus here, so I will ask a related question and hope that that's ok:

Is there a way to close the lid on my PowerBook without having it go to sleep?

Sometimes that seems like it would be cool, like when I'm using it as a music server. I do have the screen set to shut off, but still, it's so my slicker when it's closed all the way.
posted by OmieWise at 12:39 PM on April 20, 2005

Is there a way to close the lid on my PowerBook without having it go to sleep?

Not unless you have an external monitor, keyboard and mouse plugged in.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2005

A related question from a fairly recent PB convert: Is there any danger in transporting the laptop while it's in sleep mode? I haul mine back and forth to work in a backpack, and I have a nagging fear that something could go wrong with the harddrive if it's sleeping rather than off. (I recall something I once heard about "scratching" the disk.) Is this a legitimate fear, or am I delusional?
posted by lewistate at 12:52 PM on April 20, 2005

1. Unix (and OS X) wants your computer to be on 24x7. It runs a number of housekeeping tasks in the wee hours. If your computer is off then, these tasks don't get run. There are a number of apps out there that let you force them to execute manually, but that's one more thing for you to keep track of. The recommended course of action, therefore, is to let it sleep with the screen up--I think it will wake itself up for these tasks.

2. Different Apple laptops behave differently in this regard, but with at least some of them, they sleep when the lid is down because they'll generate and trap too much heat otherwise. I think there are firmware hacks for overriding it, but obviously you do so at your own risk.
posted by adamrice at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2005

adamrice, I don't have my laptop handy, but I'm pretty sure it uses an anacron-like system to run scheduled jobs whenever it can, and it's not depending on regular crontabs.

As for not sleeping when the lid is closed -- it could very well be the heat problem, but in general the design of the iBook seems to have taken external KVM usage as a very, very low priority. Another example of this is the fact that the video chipset will definitely do better than the 1024x768 resolution of the LCD, but is actually hamstrung in the iBook design to never do that, in either virtual screen mode (doesn't exist) or on an external monitor.

I don't know why they did this. It might have changed on more recent hardware.
posted by dragstroke at 1:07 PM on April 20, 2005

Is there any danger in transporting the laptop while it's in sleep mode? I have a nagging fear that something could go wrong with the harddrive.

No. The drive is shut down and the heads are parked, exactly the same as when the machine is shut down entirely.

Let it sleep with the screen up--I think it will wake itself up for these tasks.

Nonsense. OS X currently doesn't work this way, out of the box. It won't spontaneously wake itself up unless you tell it to.
posted by xil at 1:13 PM on April 20, 2005

dragstroke - The iBook has crippled video output because the PowerBook line supports dual displays and high-resolution graphics, and Apple wants people buying PowerBooks for those features instead of iBooks.
posted by beaverd at 1:40 PM on April 20, 2005

The only problem with sleep mode is that if the battery falls out* or runs out completely, you lose your work. I'd recommend checking everything is saved to disk at least once in a while in apps without autosave or autorecovery.

That said, I only ever shut down my Macs to take them apart, and when I see a Mac that is neither on nor asleep I feel like I'm handling a dead body.

(* 15 and 17 inch powerbooks let you change the battery while asleep)
posted by cillit bang at 2:19 PM on April 20, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, y'all. It seems to be pretty definitive in terms of letting it sleep. I'll be giving that a try from here on out.
posted by WCityMike at 8:55 PM on April 20, 2005

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