I have noticed that many people do not know how to turn off their computers correctly. They think that they can just close the lid on the laptop to turn it off or worse they just press and hold the power button until the computer shuts off. This is called a ‘hard boot.’  There’s a time and place to use this method, but it should NOT be your first go to because it’ll cause problems with your machine. 

If you press the power button to turn it off, it’s just like a power outage to your computer.  The programs that are open, including the operating system, cannot shut down properly creating the possibility of losing or corrupting your data.  Below I’ll tell you how to properly shut down a computer to prevent loss or damage for a longer-lasting machine.

First, you want to find the Windows button in the bottom left of your screen, if you have moved your taskbar the button can be in one of the other corners.  It looks like this:

The Windows Start Button to access settings and power options
Windows Button

Left click on this icon with your mouse.  This will bring up a menu just above the icon.  You’re looking for the power symbol just above the Windows button.  If you move your mouse cursor over it, it’ll say Power. 

Use this button to turn the computer off
Power Icon

Click on the Power icon and it’ll give you 3 options above it: Sleep, Shut down, Restart. Sleep means the computer is in a low power mode but is still on.  Shut down is the proper way to turn the power off.  Restart shuts the computer down for a moment or two and powers it right back up; this is usually done after an update.   Select whichever of these options that best meets your needs.  In this example, you’ll want to select shut down.  This allows the computer to turn off properly to avoid losing any data.

Your power options for safe shut down
Power Options

If you have a laptop and just close the lid every time you are done with it, you are actually putting your computer to sleep or low power mode.  This means the computer pauses where you were and waits for you to reopen the lid to start back up.  This option is good if you use your laptop many times throughout the day and want to get back to something quickly.  Otherwise, it’s best practice to make a habit of going through the shutdown process periodically.  This ensures your computer stays up to date and working properly.   

How often do you absolutely need to shut down your computer? For the most part, I believe it’s a personal preference.  If you only use your computer once a day or less, I’d suggest shutting it down between uses to save energy and to let it rest.  If you use your computer all the time for work or other tasks, then I’d recommend shutting it down at least once a week to allow for any updates to take effect to keep the computer running smoothly and securely.