Is it OK to leave your computer connected 24/7/365?

By | September 2, 2011
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Bob asks about leaving his computer connected to the Internet 24/7
Don’t you think that leaving your computer turned on and connected to the Internet with a cable connection exposes you to unnecessary risks? Also, I have cable Internet and at least 2 or 3 times a day, my connection drops and I am not connected to the Internet. Sometimes I am offline for 15 minutes or more. Let me know your thoughts. I have been a subscriber for over five years now and I have come to rely on your advice and expertise. You make it more understandable to us non geeks. Thanks. Bob C.

Our Answer
There’s nothing dangerous about leaving your broadband modem turned on 24/7, provided you have good, updated, antivirus and antispyware installed and you follow good computer protocol. If you’re concerned about malicious people or software somehow finding their way to your computer (very unlikely) it would be better to turn your computer off and leave the modem running. If your computer is off (at the switch) nothing can invade it. It would provide you with whatever protection you’d get from turning off your modem, without interfering with the IP protocol settings of your modem or constantly resetting your modem every time you turn it off and on.

Cable dropouts are not caused by you turning off the modem frequently – they’re caused by broadband provider problems or your provider over-subscribing nodes. Each node is designed to support a certain number of users – we’ll use fifty as an example. Cable will continue to oversell that node until problems reported by subscribers. Cable companies just can’t add infrastructure fast enough to handle the growth. With so many cable companies now providing HD TV, Internet Phone as well as high-speed Internet, it’s no wonder that some subscribers experience slower speeds than they’re paying for and service interruptions. A cable company may put seventy-five to one hundred subscribers on the node that was only designed to handle fifty – and that’s what causes dropouts, slower speeds and other problems. If you do experience dropouts, one of the fastest ways to get reconnected is to unplug the power to your cable modem for ten to fifteen seconds, and then plug it back in.

We leave our computers and our modems turned on 24/7/365 (unless there are thunderstorms or weather conditions which may cause a power failure – or we’re going to be away for a few days). We don’t think that you need to turn off your computer or your modem as a safety measure against “getting hacked” or having something malicious find its way onto your computer.

It’s great that you have several anti-spyware installed and an anti-virus program. We want to remind everyone that while having several anti-spyware programs installed is a great idea, you should choose one to run as your primary protector – and keep the others to double-check your computer once or twice a week. Don’t have several anti-spyware programs running in the background. That unnecessarily uses resources and doesn’t afford you any greater protection – it might even cause conflicts. And, never, have more than one anti-virus installed on your computer. Always keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs updated! Most anti-spyware and anti-virus programs are reactive not pro-active types of programs. Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7 all have built-in firewalls – and you should always leave your Windows firewall turned on, but you do not need to install a third-party firewall.

Also, if you have a router (wired or wireless) you will find that it probably acts as hardware firewall too. Check your router’s documentation to learn whether or not your router acts as a hardware firewall – many do. If it does, it will work with Windows firewall without causing any problems.

2 thoughts on “Is it OK to leave your computer connected 24/7/365?

  1. Glen R Curtis Jr

    I was having a similar problem a few months back. I had to reset my router several times a day. I went to the manufacturers website and found out there was a firmware update that I hadn’t been notified about. I followed their instructions and haven’t had a problem since.

  2. Tony R

    My cable modem would disconnect for 2 seconds every 20 to 30 seconds, more often when downloading. I suggest you call your cable provider and ask for a new modem.
    I did and no problems since. His locale densely or sparsely populated, may play a role if the nodes are overloaded. Like they said, unplug the modem if peace of mind is at stake after shutting down.


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