Although the big argument used to be about saturated and unsaturated fats, today's generation has found a new source of disagreement: Should a computer be left on all the time or turned off at the end of the day? Both camps have decent arguments, and there's no real answer (except that you should always turn off your monitor when you won't be using it for a half hour or so).
However, if you decide to turn off your computer, don't just head for the off switch. First, tell Windows XP about your plans. To do that, click the Start button, choose the Turn Off Computer command, and ponder the choices Windows XP places on-screen.

Click Stand By to temporarily put the computer to sleep, click Turn Off to turn off your computer, or click Restart to make Windows XP shut down and come back to life.

Stand By: Save your work before choosing this option; Windows XP doesn't save your work automatically. Instead, it lets your computer doze for a bit to save power, but the computer wakes up at the touch of a button.
Turn Off: Clicking here tells Windows XP to put away all your programs and to make sure that you've saved all your important files. Then it turns off your computer and most of the newer monitors. Poof! Use this option when you're done computing for the day. (If your monitor doesn't turn off automatically, you'll have to push its power button yourself.)
Restart: Here, Windows saves your work and prepares your computer to be shut off. However, it then restarts your computer. Use this option when installing new software, changing settings, or trying to stop Windows XP from doing something awfully weird.
Hibernate: Only offered on some computers, this option works much like Shut Down. It saves your work and turns off your computer. However, when turned on again, your computer presents your desktop just as you left it: Open programs and windows appear in the same place. Putting your computer into hibernation mode is not as safe as shutting it down. (Don't see the Hibernate feature? Hold down Shift, and it will replace the Standby button.)
The Hibernate command takes all of your currently open information and writes it to the hard drive in one big chunk. Then, to re-create your desktop, it reads that big chunk and places it back on your desktop.

Don't ever turn off your computer unless you've chosen the Turn Off command from the Start button. Windows XP needs to prepare itself for the shutdown, or it may accidentally eat some of your important information — as well as the information of anybody else using the computer at the time.

Remember, if you're done with the computer but other people might want to use it, just click Log Off from the Start menu: Windows XP saves your work and brings up the Welcome screen, allowing other people to log on and play video games.

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Vishnu vardhan Reddy Boda is Tech Blogger and Software Engineer.

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