A. You wouldn't believe how often I receive this question, Meredith. It's been going on for decades. Thank you for giving me a chance to finally put an end to this long-standing debate.
Both sides believe their way is better for a computer's life. The shutdown crowd believes steady power consumption will fry a computer over time. The leave-it-on crew believes that repeated shutdowns do physical damage to a computer's parts.
So, which one really is better for your computer?
In reality, it doesn't matter. Neither is going to change how long your computer lasts. There are advantages and disadvantages to both strategies, though. I'll go into those shortly.
In the old days, it really was a bad idea to shut down your machine too often. Older hard drives and computer parts didn't shut down easily and could damage themselves if they were turned on and off too much.