Computer conundrum: Leave PC on or not?

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I hope you can settle a discussion we’ve been having at home whether to leave our computer on or turn it off every night. What should we do?

A. There are several schools of thought about this, depending how you use your computer. If you use your computer throughout the day, every day, I would leave it on all the time and use its power management features to power down your monitor after a given period of inactivity.

Most catastrophic drive failures occur during power-up, when a surge of electricity hits the PC’s “cold” components. For that reason, along with the convenience factor, I leave all my systems on 24/7, and reboot (restart) them once a week to clear out memory and give things a fresh start that only a reboot can accomplish.

Hard drives today are generally considered to be 100,000 to 600,000-hour parts, which refers to the mean time between failures. That’s a range of approximately 10 to 70 years, which should more than outlast the usefulness of any computer—not to mention Mr. Modem—so wearing out a hard drive by virtue of leaving it powered up is not a major concern.

Depending on your version of Windows, you’ll generally find your computer’s Power Management features located on your Control Panel by clicking Display > Screen Saver tab, Power button. There you will encounter settings to power down your monitor and hard drive after a given period of time. Select a time appropriate for your usage. I have mine configured to power down the monitor after two hours and the hard drive configured to never power down.

Q. I received some email in which people use a font that's in their own handwriting. I'd like to be able to do that, too, but have no idea how to go about it. Can you help, Mr. M.?

A: One of the easiest ways to accomplish that is with Fontifier ( It's very easy and only costs $9 to have a font created from your handwriting. To do this, go to the Web site, print out a template sheet in which you'll hand write all the letters of the alphabet, numerals and some punctuation marks. Then scan the template sheet (if you don't have a scanner, an outfit like Kinko's or Alphagraphics can scan it for you) and upload the scanned file to Fontifier. You can then preview your font for free, and if you like what you see, purchase it on the spot. You would then install the new font for use with other programs. Instructions for installing your new font can be found on the Fontifier site.

If you frequently fontasize about different type styles, take a look at Handwriting Fonts (, Graphix Edge (, and (

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week:

Brain Training
BrainMetrix advises us that when it comes to neurons, “use ‘em or lose ‘em.” To help keep the old brain cells stimulated, BrainMetrix provides an assortment of cerebral games and mind-training exercises that will give your gray matter a vigorous workout.

Where’s George?
Track the geographic meanderings of your dollars. Enter the serial number(s) of your bills and leave a comment about where you obtained them, each bill’s physical condition, or if you made any special markings on any bills (which you’re not supposed to do). As other individuals check their serial numbers, if someone receives one of your bills in change, they will note the same information so you can track the travels of your dollars. The same service, called Where’s Willy? ( is available for tracking Canadian currency.

WiFi Savvy
This is a helpful blog maintained by RV travelers, for RV travelers. The site owners, Jim and Chris Guld, live in their motor home and help RVers stay connected to the Internet by sharing their WiFi savvy. If you’re on the road and have a WiFi question, make a detour into this blog, say hello to Jim and Chris, and tell ‘em Mr. Modem sent you!

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