The Internet is arguably the most important technological tool in daily use, allowing people to literally stay connected 24 hours a day with anyone in the world. Leaving your Internet access running all day, every day, however, may not prove the best idea. Knowing when to log off and when to stay connected can save you future headaches.
Leaving your Internet access on constantly would require you to leave your computer on all the time, which in turn would lead to higher electricity bills and more power consumption. According to Energysavers.gov, you should turn your computer -- and thus your connection to the Internet -- off when not in use. If you don't intend to use your monitor for 20 minutes, shut it off. If you don't plan to use your PC for more than two hours, shut it off. The amount of power needed to start your computer is far less than the energy it uses while active. Placing your computer in sleep mode saves energy, but not as much as turning it off completely.
Although it's best to turn your computer off and close your browser when neither is in use, you may have reason to leave it on. For example, you may have numerous Websites open that you're using to complete a project, research or homework assignment. Turning your Internet off would require you to reload these pages. Leaving your computer in sleep mode, however -- while it uses more energy -- leaves the Websites open. Keep in mind that you could always bookmark the sites, allowing you to turn your computer off.
Leaving your Internet connection constantly open can increase your odds of getting a computer worm, such as the Blaster worm, which attacked numerous computers in 2003. Unlike a virus -- which typically requires the computer user to run, open or download a malicious program -- a worm does not require the computer user to do anything and spreads on its own. If your computer already has a Trojan horse installed -- or a program that claims to be doing something harmless, but instead may harvest passwords and financial data -- hackers can use it to create a backdoor. A backdoor for a hacker is a means of accessing your computer without your knowledge.
If you leave your Internet connection open for long periods of time, use common sense while doing so. For example, if you are banking online, don't walk away and leave your account page open. Doing so could expose your personal banking statements to anyone else in the area, allowing them to harvest your financial data. If you are a parent, do not leave an adults only Website up, as this will increase the odds of your child stumbling upon it. After sending an email, log out of your account so no one can access it remotely.
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