I run my laptop without a battery, and just unplug it instead of just holding the power button down. I didn't think much of it until I read that holding down the power button will actually tell the OS that it is about to cut power. I know it's not smart to do while doing anything important, but with general use, should I be worried of anything? Thanks
That is a good question to ask someone intelligent.
Outside of data loss and file corruption, which could be an important system file or driver that could destroy the OS, nah, nothing to worry about. /s
You've probably confusing shutting down and a hard shut down, which is pretty much the equivalent of yanking the power cord. A hard shut down requires holding the power button for about 8-12 seconds, after which, power will be cut immediately. By default, Windows will start a proper shutdown procedure upon initial press of the power button, but, in the vast majority of cases, will not successfully complete before the 8-12 seconds, which would also result in a sudden power loss mid-procedure. In this scenario "holding down the power button will actually tell the OS that it is about to cut power" statement is true, but would likely be worse since shutting down requires a lot of writing, and loss of power while writing files = corruption and data loss. The hard shut down should be reserved for when the system completely freezes or locks up and is unresponsive.
I recommend doing a proper shut down every time, but outright yanking the power cord might be better than hard shut down with the default behavior, especially if you're at the desktop, idle, with no other programs of importance running. As a time saver, I just put my computer into sleep mode, that way I don't have to wait for it to start up when I return.
When you say that cutting the power while writing files will corrupt data, does this only apply to any files that you are using or OS files as well? Thanks for your reply.
Sudden power loss while in mid-write can corrupt any file, so it applies to the OS as well. I have lost a few Windows XP installations in the past due to hard power offs, but I haven't experienced any data corruption recently, but then again, I don't hard reboot unnecessarily. I did loose my Windows 8 install on my laptop; it BSOD'd and then didn't want to boot. Not sure if data corruption was a result of, or the cause of the BSOD, and is irrelevant to me at this point since I just re-installed Windows 7.
The point is, you play a dangerous game. It's kinda like ejecting a flash drive. Most people do just unplug without ejecting, and for the most part, it's safe if nothing is using the drive. But if you had an excel spreadsheet minimized in the background that you forgot about and were working on for the past hour and you just yanked the flash drive it was saved to, you just an hour's worth of work if you didn't loose the file outright. Same concept, Windows will do things in the background sometimes, so it's better to eject/shut down, just in case you forget something you might want to keep, or Windows wants to do something with some system library in the background.