[24hoursupport] Re: Is it okay to never shut computers down?

  • From: "Ron Allen" <chizotz@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: 24hoursupport@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sun, 21 Jul 2002 13:38:21 -0500

>At work, manager hates it when we shut down computers.  Outside of the
>that we could save electricity by shutting down the comps, should we just 
>leave them on continuously?  Pros/cons?  Thanks.

Hello Lene,

As others have said, this is a point that, for some reason, seems to
generate a lot of debate. I can, therefore, only give you my opinion on the
matter with the reasoning behind why this is my opinion.

To state it simply, leave the computer on all the time but, if possible,
have the hard drives and, especially, the monitor set to turn off after an
hour or less, or simply turn the monitor off when leaving but leave the
computer turned on.

Now to explain this point of view. 

First, a traditional CRT monitor is by far the most power-hungry component
in any computer system. Having the monitor turned off saves considerable
electricity. It just makes sense to have the monitor turned off when the
computer is not in use.

Second, solid-state electronics do not suffer "wear and tear" or "aging" as
fast when they are either powered up or powered down. The process that
"ages" solid-state components the most is the power surge that happens when
the power is first applied and, to a generally lesser degree, when power is
removed. Add to this the fact that solid-state electronics operate best
within a certain operating temperature, and so keeping the computer always
"warmed up and ready to go" provides not only the benefit of avoiding the
most damaging process you can put it through but also keeps it ready to go
at the most efficient temperature at all times.

Third, disk drives are not entirely solid-state. Drives are virtually the
only parts in computers that have moving parts. This is perhaps the most
debatable point in this entire discussion, because many seem to think that
the wear of being in constant use is less harmful than the process of
spinning the disks up to speed and many others seem to believe the reverse.
I'm torn on this myself, but after long consideration I believe that any
mechanical part in continual use is more likely to fail than the same part
in use only when needed, despite the added burden of spinning up to speed
turning it off may entail.

Many computers, especially older computers with older BIOS programs and
operating systems, can not correctly go into hibernation and shut down the
hard drives and monitor, or (more commonly) they can go into hibernation
correctly but can't "wake up" correctly. If the computer is capable of it,
I suggest using power management to turn the monitor and hard disks off
after a certain time of non-use, generally I use 30 minutes on the monitor
and 45 minutes on the hard drives. If the computer is not capable of waking
up properly, then I would still suggest that leaving it on 24/7 and
physically turning the monitor off when leaving for lunch or overnight is a
better compromise than turning the whole unit off.

Sorry there isn't a cut and dried answer for you on this.


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