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lexidobe

What happens when you don't shut your computer off properly?

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I have 2 main questions out of curiosity: 1: What happens when you hold the power button down to shut off the computer instead of using the shutdown option? 2: What happens if you unplug the computer to shut it off instead of properly shutting it off? I would guess that it might corrupt files, but would hardware be damaged? Thanks

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3 minutes ago, lexidobe said:

1: What happens when you hold the power button down to shut off the computer instead of using the shutdown option?

It sends a signal to the PSU to tell it to cut the power off to the PC (that or the motherboard does it)

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2: What happens if you unplug the computer to shut it off instead of properly shutting it off? I would guess that it might corrupt files, but would hardware be damaged? Thanks

Any data that hasn't been saved, which can be from programs you haven't closed to data in cache that hasn't been flushed into storage, will be lost. That's about it. Hardware won't be damaged any more than a normal shut down procedure anyway, if any damage happens.

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It probably won't do anything bad except corrupt files if you're in the middle of something. But with that being said I wouldn't do it all the time.


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It won't destroy your computer per se, but if it's in middle of writing operation, it may become corrupt. But ofc, it's highly advisable to not do it frequently unless if nothing else comes to mind if let's say your computer becomes frozen for some reason.


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Unplugging the PSU to turn off the computer can and will kill the motherboard-especially if its made by Asus.

Edit: From my experience, it damages something in relation to the CPU socket so that you can power it on, but only for a short while before you have to leave it sit for a long time to use it again.


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17 minutes ago, Dabombinable said:

Unplugging the PSU to turn off the computer can and will kill the motherboard-especially if its made by Asus.

Edit: From my experience, it damages something in relation to the CPU socket so that you can power it on, but only for a short while before you have to leave it sit for a long time to use it again.

I have never heard of a board dieing from power loss.

I also dont think it is fair to say that this affects all or most ASUS boards, I'm sure if this was a problem then ASUS would know about it.
 

 

The problem that may occur when a computer loses power, Is that any data being written to disk won't complete and you are left with an incomplete file, or a portion of data hasn't been marked deleted or sometimes data loss if defragmenting was happening. This is why some raid cards have a small lithium battery onboard so that they can still write data from its onboard RAM to the disks when power is lost. I can't think of a reason why cutting power to a motherboard could in any way cause physical damage, Maby if it is incredibly poorly designed.

 

A motherboard doesn't know the difference between an expected or unexpected shutdown, When you click the Shutdown Button in your OS. All you are doing is telling the operating system to start telling software to save all its files, then once the OS is happy that it has saved all it needs to, It just cuts the power.

 

If you unplug the computer, or hold down the power button for a few seconds it instantly turns of the power, without telling the OS, so any data in RAM that would have needed to be saved, Like any files that are opened or any other data that might need to be saved might be lossed, and any data being currently written to disk would not finish, therefore the file is most likely corrupted (incomplete and therefore unusable)
 

I would also like to note that it modern operating systems and file systems handle corrupted data quite well and abstracted from user operation, So that you don't really have to worry about it.

If you have server or something that is data critical and you cannot afford to lose any data that is being written, Then It is highly important to prevent unexpected shutdowns. This is why systems like UPS and Battery Backups on RAID cards exist.

 

On a home computer or something like that, It is seldom an issue, Most consumer software has quite strict autobacking up of files, And the operating system and programs handle any other small losses of data so it scarcely affects the user.

 

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1 hour ago, Dabombinable said:

Unplugging the PSU to turn off the computer can and will kill the motherboard-especially if its made by Asus.

Edit: From my experience, it damages something in relation to the CPU socket so that you can power it on, but only for a short while before you have to leave it sit for a long time to use it again.

 

First time I hear this, though I could see it as possible if you have a bad/low quality PSU.

 

Pulling the power cord is technically the same as closing the PSU power switch ... unless you don't pull the cord correctly and the leads start sparking. Either way, if it's not done on a daily basis, it shouldn't be a problem.


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6 minutes ago, wkdpaul said:

 

First time I hear this, though I could see it as possible if you have a bad/low quality PSU.

 

Pulling the power cord is technically the same as closing the PSU power switch ... unless you don't pull the cord correctly and the leads start sparking. Either way, if it's not done on a daily basis, it shouldn't be a problem.

I pulled the power cord from my desktop. My Asus H87M Pro wouldn't turn on again unless I left it sit for several hours and even then it would work for 1-2 hours before shutting off (no over heating, no shorting out). Simply switching it for my Z97 Sabertooth MKII (which has its own problems but is functional) solved the problem. And in the past when I've done it I'd always get a warning about a surge being detected, meaning that turning off a computer by unplugging it can cause power surges which will eventually damage the motherboard.

 

 

1 hour ago, RandomGuy13 said:

I have never heard of a board dieing from power loss.

I also dont think it is fair to say that this affects all or most ASUS boards, I'm sure if this was a problem then ASUS would know about it.
 

 

The problem that may occur when a computer loses power, Is that any data being written to disk won't complete and you are left with an incomplete file, or a portion of data hasn't been marked deleted or sometimes data loss if defragmenting was happening. This is why some raid cards have a small lithium battery onboard so that they can still write data from its onboard RAM to the disks when power is lost. I can't think of a reason why cutting power to a motherboard could in any way cause physical damage, Maby if it is incredibly poorly designed.

 

A motherboard doesn't know the difference between an expected or unexpected shutdown, When you click the Shutdown Button in your OS. All you are doing is telling the operating system to start telling software to save all its files, then once the OS is happy that it has saved all it needs to, It just cuts the power.

 

If you unplug the computer, or hold down the power button for a few seconds it instantly turns of the power, without telling the OS, so any data in RAM that would have needed to be saved, Like any files that are opened or any other data that might need to be saved might be lossed, and any data being currently written to disk would not finish, therefore the file is most likely corrupted (incomplete and therefore unusable)
 

I would also like to note that it modern operating systems and file systems handle corrupted data quite well and abstracted from user operation, So that you don't really have to worry about it.

If you have server or something that is data critical and you cannot afford to lose any data that is being written, Then It is highly important to prevent unexpected shutdowns. This is why systems like UPS and Battery Backups on RAID cards exist.

 

On a home computer or something like that, It is seldom an issue, Most consumer software has quite strict autobacking up of files, And the operating system and programs handle any other small losses of data so it scarcely affects the user.

 

It takes time but my H87M Pro definitely died/became faulty because I unplugged it while it was turned on. 

There is a difference between an unexpected shutdown due to power loss and the power cord being simply pulled out. If you pull the cord out while it is turned on there is a surge due to the sparking between the plug and the PSU's socket. If your house loses power you won't get a surge unless the power comes back on then goes off again rapidly (had that kill a Microwave and VCR player).

I'm not talking about data corruption (which only ever happens when files are being written-aka when you see the HDD/USB indicator light flashing), I'm talking about the resulting power surge from unplugging a powered on desktop and the resulting surge killing it. File corruption is just something that can happen in addition to the surge.


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Pulling the plug from your computer is not a very good idea... Doing so can potentually ruin your hard drive... I do not know what happens to an SSD.  If you hold the power button down it will shut down your computer faster, but as some of the comments have already said, It will corrupt data as it is "flushed" into the memory which is cleared as soon as the PC goes "black".

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3 hours ago, M.Yurizaki said:

Hardware won't be damaged any more than a normal shut down procedure anyway, if any damage happens.

now i've heard stories about how a sudden unexpected power outage can destroy harddrives if the platters stop spinning while the heads are not in their parking position.

 

 

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3 hours ago, lexidobe said:

I have 2 main questions out of curiosity: 1: What happens when you hold the power button down to shut off the computer instead of using the shutdown option? 2: What happens if you unplug the computer to shut it off instead of properly shutting it off? I would guess that it might corrupt files, but would hardware be damaged? Thanks

If you're lucky, nothing at all.  If you're not lucky (or you do it a lot), you will experience data loss/corruption at best, and potentially hardware issues at worst (HDD's can be damaged by either method, SSD's can even get corrupted sectors).  I've been dealing with that at my church, with someone (maybe several someones) turning off the power strip without shutting the computer down.  I've had to deal with our song presentation software getting corrupted, and now our PowerPoint slideshow doesn't play anymore.

 

Long story short, don't turn off your computer improperly unless you really can't avoid it.  And if it happens a lot, then you need to determine the cause, because that's not normal.

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12 minutes ago, KenjiUmino said:

now i've heard stories about how a sudden unexpected power outage can destroy harddrives if the platters stop spinning while the heads are not in their parking position.

 

 

The chances are slim, check out WD's SecurePark™ or APM Head Parking.


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12 minutes ago, KenjiUmino said:

now i've heard stories about how a sudden unexpected power outage can destroy harddrives if the platters stop spinning while the heads are not in their parking position.

 

 

The chances are slim, check out WD's SecurePark™ or APM Head Parking.

 

1 hour ago, Al_net said:

I do not know what happens to an SSD.

SSD is kind of living its own life. You create a file and you put it into a folder, that's all you see. Then there is the OS view - the filesystem. Filesystem is holding everything together - maps the layout of your drive, stores all kinds of data about your data (the metadata). So damaging the filesystem is the first thing that can happen - metadata can get corrupted (modern FS have ways to prevent corruption). When you have a hard drive, it's very straightforward - data is written onto the platter and that's all. SSDs behave differently. SSD have cells which are divided into pages and blocks. But NAND flash chips used in SSDs can erase only the whole block. If SSD is erasing the block, remaining data has to go to cache. There are clever ways that prevent this, such as TRIM, but SSDs move the files quite often also for wear-leveling or other maintenance. Also there is the SSD cache. Newly written file goes there first while it's being written to the NAND chip(s) - since the cache is usually a RAM chip, well... you know what happens when the power goes out. Enterprise SSDs have a backup power that can copy the cache though, so they're safe(r?).


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16 hours ago, redteam4ever said:

The chances are slim, check out WD's SecurePark™ or APM Head Parking.

yeah, i figured someone would have done something about this problem already. 

 

last time i really heard about it was when maxtor was still around making IDE drives. 

 

now i feel old

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You make a baby panda sad. Maybe corrupt a write operation. But mostly the panda thing.


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1 and 2 are same thing. Worst case: You have Windows update or other OS update going on, or any other major install. Result: Corrupted OS and need to reinstall. Middle ground: Same as above with some files being moved or open. Result: Everything open is lost or corrupted, but OS is fine minus some failed updates. Best case: Nothing happens. You might loose open files, but no corruption of any kind.


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