Should you leave your Mac running all the time?

“When did your Mac last start up? Mine’s only been running continuously now for nearly ten days, but unless something forces me to, I don’t intend restarting it for another couple of weeks, and only shut it down completely a couple of times a year,” Howard Oakley writes for Eclectic Light Company. “Which is better, then: a daily boot, or leaving your Mac on as long as possible?”

“Traditional arguments about this have been based on the last generation of computers, with internal hard drives. I’ve been leaving my desktop Mac running constantly for many years now, and started doing so largely to reduce the risk of hard drive failure,” Oakley writes. “This iMac Pro no longer has internal storage which spins platters, so it’s time to reassess what I do.”

“Some users even question the value of putting a display to sleep: over the working lifetime of a computer like an iMac, never putting the display to sleep is extremely unlikely to cause any persisting faults in its display,” Oakley writes. “Stories about images becoming ‘etched’ into displays go right back to the days of green screen CRT screens, and even then were probably largely urban myths. For the record, though, my never-sleeping iMac Pro does put its display to sleep, if only to stop the cat from sitting up watching its ‘screensaver’ at night.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: No, that wasn’t an urban myth, green screen CRTs left on static images would etch terribly.

Do you leave your Mac on all the time?

If so, do you use Computer Sleep and/or Display Sleep?

Our Macs are all set to “Never” on Computer Sleep and 5 Minutes on Display Sleep.


  1. Yep, I left my 2008 Mac Pro running straight for 11 years before replacing it. Never had an issue. My reasoning was roughly the same, but I also left it on for availability and media center duties with Plex as well.

  2. The main reason for Display sleep isn’t “burn in,” it’s energy use. Why pay for electricity you’re not using?

    As for booting every day, I’ve found it unnecessary. However, I do find that not rebooting after program crashes just leads to more program crashes. Although software is supposed to be “sandboxed,” so one crash doesn’t affect other programs, in practice that’s not always the case.

  3. “Stories about images becoming ‘etched’ into displays go right back to the days of green screen CRT screens, and even then were probably largely urban myths. ”

    not an urban myth.

    And conventional wisdom since the beginning was to leave your machine on.

  4. I put mine to sleep just to save power (for environmental reasons more than monetary). I discovered my iMac asleep used about 20 watts; but after turning off Wake for Network Access it sleeps at about .5 watts.

  5. My Mac mini is running continuously since 2011. I only turned it off to make hardware upgrades like memory and ssd, and restarts after OS upgrades and updates. To conserve energy only the display is in sleep mode.

  6. For about ten years I have left on continuously whatever Mac I owned at the time. Whenever I wasn’t using it, it was doing incremental backups and contributing CPU cycles to worthy research projects coordinated by the World Community Grid. Now backups are continuous and I am taking a break from WCG (>7 yrs run time!) but my mid-2012 MBP has stayed on. Closing it for the sake of keeping dust off the keyboard might be a good idea.

  7. Screen burn-in is real. I bought a used 2008 iMac which presumably had a TFT widescreen active matrix display. The background picture was burned in. Didn’t notice it until I switched from the default background picture. Previous owner must have left it on 24/7 with no screensaver. Learned a valuable lesson about purchasing used displays there.

    I only sleep my machines. Never turn them off unless I need to reboot. Had a headless Mac server run for almost a year without a reboot once.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.