I never shut mine down -- my old mentor thought it was actually harmful. Needless to say, we don't have a policy about shutting down computers here at the end of the day. What do you think? Would it really save money in my budget that I could use somewhere else?
The reason we never shut off our PCs in the old days had to do with the truly inferior quality of the on-off switches used in many systems, and the danger posed by tiny power surges that result from powering on a system with an equally inferior power supply. We were afraid that these surges would damage delicate digital circuitry. I'm happy to report that those problems no longer exist. Furthermore, we now have a much greater set of problems -- relating to hacking, denial of service, and other Internet-related threats, all of which can only occur if a computer is on, and, presumably, connected to the Internet.
So shut off those computers already. You'll be saving electricity, and potentially, much more.
This was first published in November 2005