A 36 year old question…

By | December 4, 2017
This content is 6 years old. Please, read this page keeping its age in mind. Thank you.

December already – time really does whoosh by, doesn’t it?

But even so, some things never change. In fact, one of the things I’m going to write about today is something that’s been an issue with PCs even since the first IBM PC was launched, back in 1981 – 36 years ago.

I had a question from a chap called David:

“One thing that I think might be a subject for a Monday morning letter would be is there any risk attached to having the power cut off to the computer, or having to shut it down oneself for any reason?
I have heard different views on this but I cannot see that this wouldn’t have been already built into the computer. It would be nice to have it clarified.”

It’s a good question – you’ll often hear people saying “You mustn’t turn it off at the wall, you must always turn it off using the shut down option in the start menu”. But does it really matter?

And what if it simply won’t shut down – then you have to turn it off at the wall, don’t you?

Well, the simple answer is that turning it off at the wall without shutting it down first won’t do any damage – not any physical damage. But when you turn off Windows using the shut down option, it makes sure it finishes anything it was part way through in the background. It makes sure it has tidied up anything it was doing earlier. And it gets things ready for when you next want to turn the computer on again.

If you turn it off at the wall without using the shut down option, it might be right in the middle of something and it leaves bits of the files it was using scattered about.

That means when you next turn it on, it has to work out what all the “mess” is – and tidy it up. Usually that just means it takes a bit longer as it gets itself sorted. Just occasionally it can cause more trouble and a particular bit of Windows might not work properly until you’ve sorted it out – maybe reinstalled it.

To be honest, that happens much much much less often with modern versions of Windows than it did 10 or 15 years ago. But it’s still worth using the shut down option normally, apart from anything, so your computer starts up quicker next time.

What if it just won’t shut down using the shut down option? Well, then you might have no choice but to turn it off at the power supply. Just be prepared for it to take a while to start up next time. (And it might nag at you not to do it again as well – even though this time you had no choice!)

Oh, and if you have a laptop, turning it off at the wall doesn’t matter so much as it’ll just use the battery instead so it won’t actually turn it off at all – until the battery runs out.

They’re Out To Pocket Your Money
Well, we’re in the run up to Christmas now, so I thought I’d mention one or two books that might make handy things to give as Christmas presents. Oh, and of course, if you do choose to order one, you’ll get the free Christmas present from us that I mentioned on Friday.

(If you didn’t see my email, from now until we break up for Christmas, everyone who orders any of our books will get a copy of “Best of 2017” completely free as a little present. It doesn’t matter how you order – phone, online, by post – and you don’t need to quote any special code or anything.)

Anyway, They’re Out To Pocket Your Money is all about the scams, tricks and swizzes that big businesses, con-men and scammers use to try to get hold of your money. It explains scams to watch out for – from illegal con tricks to sneaky-but-legal tricks some businesses use to try to get you to sign up for things you don’t realise you’re signing up for.

Lots of people have told me it’s saved them a small fortune – it covers things everyone should be aware of. And earlier this year we fully updated it so it’s bang up to date with recent scams and things to watch out for – and how to spot them.

If you want to order a copy, you can ring 01229 777606 (I think Emma, Jess & Michelle are in on the phones today, though I’m not sure because I’m writing this early in the morning!) or order it on the website here.  Or just email us at [email protected] with your name and address to send it to.  We’ll include your free present (“Best of 2017”) automatically.

2 thoughts on “A 36 year old question…

  1. Jeanne M Turner

    Thank you, that was very interesting and probably something we’ve all wondered about. It did raise one query for me…you said not such a problem with a laptop as, if you had to switch it off at the wall, it would continue working until the battery ran out. Does this mean that nowadays it is safe to plug in a laptop to the mains supply to use without first removing the battery? A few years back this was a big “no, no” as it could cause the laptop to overheat. Windows 10 updates, the big ones, can take a few hours to download and and install, far longer than the normal life of the battery without recharging. Are today’s laptops protected against overheating?

    1. Tim Wakeling Post author

      yes, with a modern laptop you can use it with it plugged in with no problem (as long as there’s nothing broken in it – but then if something is broken it’s probably not a good idea to use it at all until it’s fixed!). You might find the battery itself gets warmer than normal, particularly if you’re using it actually on your lap, so you might prefer to use it on a desk or table so it doesn’t get uncomfortable, but it’s fine to use it with the battery in and it plugged in. As you say, some of the big updates take so long to install that you need it plugged in before it can do the whole update.


Leave a Reply

The name you enter will be displayed. We collect your email address but do not display it. Full privacy policy here. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.