what’s better for your Mac?

When it comes to putting your Mac to sleep or shutting it down, each option has a place and a purpose. Neither solution is superior to another in all situations, and your choice will depend on your schedule and the way you use your device.

In general, you should put your Mac to sleep during the day when it is not in use, and shut it down and reset it overnight.

Sleep and Shutdown serve specific functions, so let’s discuss what each option does.

Benefits of putting your Mac to sleep

Image: KnowTechie

If you need to leave your Mac for more than a few minutes, we recommend putting it to sleep. A sleeping Mac will:

  • Temporarily disable unnecessary hardware to save power
  • Wake up quickly to get back to work
  • Keep apps open and saved in their current state
  • Use Power Nap to update iCloud services and macOS
  • Use Safe Hibernation to avoid losing data if your Mac loses power

The main purpose of a Mac’s sleep mode is to save power. Therefore, unnecessary hardware such as the display and the hard drive are switched off when your device goes to sleep in order to reduce energy consumption to a minimum. Other components, such as the CPU, go into energy-saving mode and continue to only perform the necessary functions.

Because a sleeping Mac stores its current state in the device’s RAM, waking up is quick and in most cases you can get back to work right away.

While the shutdown forces all apps to close, they can keep their current state when idle and resume when they wake up. However, applications that rely on Internet access may experience a delay in reconnecting.

Power Nap is a nifty feature that allows your device to sync mail, calendar, and other iCloud services when it is idle. When plugged in, your Mac will also download software updates and perform Time Machine backups.

Mac Power Nap
Image: KnowTechie

Safe Sleep is a notebook function that writes the current status of your Mac to the hard drive if the battery is empty in sleep mode. If your MacBook loses charge while in hibernation, Safe Hibernation pulls information from the hard drive to restore it to its previous state and prevent data loss.

Obviously, sleep should be the default choice in most situations, but shutting it down has a purpose too.

Benefits of Shutting Down Your Mac

Request to shut down the computer
Image: KnowTechie

If you have finished using your Mac for the day, we recommend shutting it down. A shutdown or restarted Mac will:

  • Install downloaded software updates
  • Empty RAM for a fresh start

Keeping your Mac’s software updated is of the utmost importance. Apple frequently releases critical bug fixes and security patches, and delaying installing a new update can cause inevitable problems. In addition to a regular restart, you should also activate automatic updates if necessary.

Clogged memory can affect system performance. While modern versions of macOS are pretty good at managing memory, cleaning up the slate every now and then before restarting will keep things running smoothly.

Should you put your Mac to sleep or shut it down?

Realistically, you don’t necessarily have to shut down your Mac every night, and it can be useful to let it sleep while it’s plugged in to download software updates when it’s idle.

Regular shutdowns, however, are a good habit and can help prevent minor issues.

Do you have any thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below or carry the discussion into ours Twitter or Facebook.

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