Help desk: The on and off argument

Q: I have replaced my desktop with a new laptop and it is the only computer in my household. Should it be left on all the time or shut down during the night?
Ken Czarnecki

A: When it comes to desktop computers, geeks can get into some pretty heated arguments over whether it is smart to shut the machine off or let it run all the time. But there's no argument when the machine is a laptop. It's important to turn it off when you're not using it. Unlike desktop computers, a laptop isn't made for 24/7 operation. That small laptop case is packed tightly with heat-producing electronics. Desktops offer more breathing room and a big cooling fan that make running them 24/7 much safer. A hot internal operating temperature shortens the life of a computer, so be cool when it comes to laptop computers.

Q: When I run a Google search I get redirected to one of many unrelated sites. I’ve been told this is a form of a virus but none of my software will clean it up. Can you recommend another program that will fix this?
Dave Brinkley

A: Malware that hijacks Google searches seems to be a growing threat. I've had good luck fixing the problem with a program that can be downloaded here: Once on the site you'll see that the company offers both free and for-pay versions of the program. I think the program is good enough to buy, but the free version also does a fine job.

Q: I always leave my computer monitor on but in the sleep mode. Is that helpful or harmful to the monitor?
Dan Aldrich

A: The sleep mode works fine for me. Doing that shuts down most of the electronics and there's only a tiny trickle of power going to the monitor. My guess is that there's very little difference -- when it comes to the life expectancy of a monitor -- between turning it off or letting it hibernate in sleep mode.