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I have an external monitor, keyboard, and mouse connected to my Macbook Pro. I have the lid closed and have it running. I run it as if it were a desktop PC, always on. I only shut off the LCD attached to it.

Is it safe to always have the Macbook Pro on and running?

About every other week I let the battery drain almost completely. I also have a Belkin laptop cooling stand running underneath it. Is there anything else I can do to safely have my MBP running most of the time?

Update: Just wanted to add that I have the newer 2010 Macbook Pro.

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Is heat a concern? I thought that Mac laptops try to shed a lot of heat through the spaces between keys on the keyboard, and that would be covered up if the lid was closed. –  Peter Murray Aug 25 '10 at 19:56
    
No, Mac laptops are now designed to operate just fine when shut. –  MJeffryes Aug 25 '10 at 20:29

3 Answers 3

up vote 15 down vote accepted

From a software standpoint, it's perfectly fine to leave your Mac on continuously. It can even be considered recommended, since Mac OS X has a number of optimization scripts that run on a daily, weekly, monthly basis, but can only do so if the computer is on.

From a hardware standpoint, it depends on your model. If you have an older (pre-2008) MacBook with a removable battery, leaving it on and plugged in continuously will kill the battery quick. In that case, you should remove the battery from the machine, only putting it back in occasionally, charging it to around 60%, to keep it in good working order.

The new MacBooks with non-removable batteries are designed to be able to be left plugged in constantly. The battery has circuitry to optimize the charge cycles so that the life of the battery is not adversely degraded over time (more than just normal use causes).

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+1 well written answer. –  spong Aug 25 '10 at 23:45
    
The new adaptive charging and bigger batteries are night and day in practice. In the old days you had to go to great pains to not have a battery fail within a year or two. Now you have to go to great pains to make it fail - they just run for years like a well made maintenance free engine. –  bmike Jul 17 '11 at 15:55

Sure

The current uptime on my MacBook is 21 days.

One thing to note:

  • I wouldn't drain the battery like that. Lithium ion batteries don't work like NiCa batteries with memory. If you have it continuously plugged in, charge to 60% and then remove the battery.
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Ok, but unfortunately, you can't remove the battery on newer MacBook Pro … –  Studer Aug 25 '10 at 15:45
    
@Studer: That is true, most unfortunate. I think the software might be smart enough to tell if it's just being continuously plugged in though. –  Josh K Aug 25 '10 at 16:18
    
The battery of later model MacBooks (ones if non-removable batteries) have a chip that stops charging the battery once it has been fully charged. –  Chris Pratt May 13 '11 at 19:08

Technically, yes, but from a long-term maintenance standpoint, I would reccommend at least rebooting once a week. I reboot all my Macs first thing Monday morning, after the Sunday night system maintenance runs, and I never have problems with crashes, memory and the like (unless, of course I do something stupid while programming). Even Mac OS X needs a quick refresh every now and then.

A laptop is really not that much different from a desktop computer; it's still a hard drive, ram, cpu, keyboard, and mouse just in a compact form factor. Anything you would do with a desktop machine, do with your laptop.

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1  
I find that I get adequate number of software updates to force maintenance reboots. –  r00fus Sep 15 '10 at 4:45
    
I find it usually takes a month before I notice something sketchy - and most people I know that like a periodic reboot do it weekly or monthly. My favorite tip is to reboot just before I intend to apply sofware updates. I want a totally clean slate to run a last check of the filesystem and then patch things before I have lots of processes running. –  bmike Jul 17 '11 at 15:52

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