Do You Turn Your Computers Off At Night?

from the questions-for-the-masses dept

With energy costs heading continuously upwards, Fujitsu is now suggesting that companies should tell their employees to turn PCs off at night to save energy. Of course, for many, many years, this has been a very popular question for computer users -- as can be seen by the number of results on a simple Google search. There are, clearly, pros and cons to leaving the computer on and turning it off -- so with that in mind, we've set up our own extremely unscientific survey. Some people insist that constantly restarting your computer is actually worse for it than just leaving it on. Others claim the energy savings are a much bigger deal, and that argument may gain support with energy costs getting higher every day.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Chris H, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 11:16am

    No Subject Given

    It's a nice suggestion but... not practical in a corporate environment. Most companies will send their patches and updates down at night. The company we outsource our desktop maintenance to, runs them at night along with the offsite backups.

    I myself run a script at night on all of our computers to update our database.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    0n1l1nk, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 11:30am

    No Subject Given

    What about web servers or file servers? They NEED to be up 24/7 and run a lot more power then your standard office/home PC. It makes no sence with energy saving features such as "turn hard disks off after [time]" or "system standby after [time]"

    I run a small web server off my home pc, and even though I turn disks off after an hour, it still works when it is accessed so... I think it is just a stupid thing to ask people to do.

     

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  3.  
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    Larry Tilley, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 11:32am

    Turning off your computer - one more option.

    You forgot to allow for those of us who remotely maintain computers after normal hours of operation. Please do not talk my boss into turning copmuters off, it will take the REMOTELY out of my job.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 11:54am

    No Subject Given

    If you don't intend on using it, or if nobody else needs to use it, I tell clients to turn them off. My own workstations are turned off when they aren't going to be used for a few hours. All of my servers though, run 24/7.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    ISV_Damocles, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Turning off your computer - one more option.

    Most newer systems can be booted remotely through ethernet card -- at least the Intel NICs can.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    dorpus, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:16pm

    Finding the UMVUE

    So you want to find the UMVUE (Uniformly Minimum Variance Unbiased Estimator) of theta = proportion of people who turn off their computers at night?

    Would it make sense to perform a two-stage sequential sampling experiment, in which the number of turned-off PC's are recorded on different nights? Assuming a Bernoulli trial, then we could solve for the UMVUE of 1/theta.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:28pm

    Re: Turning off your computer - one more option.

    Exactly, for those noob sys admins out there, most NICs can wake-on-ping from sleep (an alternative to a hard shutdown); most can also boot on ping (magic packet, baby -- google it).

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    lisa, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:47pm

    What damage?

    It looks like the most popular answer alleges bad things will come of turning off your computer (or rather turning it back on). Urban legend tells me it takes more electricity to turn on a lamp than to keep it on for an hour, more gas to start my car than to idle it for 3 hours, and now terrible things are going to happen to my computer, too. So, please be specific, vague mumblings about "power surges" don't tell me much.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Humboldt Head, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:51pm

    No Subject Given

    My Mac has been on for close to 43 days and runs like a top!
    _____________
    1.67GHz, 15" Powerbook, 512 Ram, 80G HD, 64M Video, Sudden Motion Sensor, Scrolling Trackpad

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    ted, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:57pm

    Re: What damage?

    Damage how? i dont see how doing anything that the computer is built for can damage it. If it is damaging to power a computer on and off, can i sure the manufacture for putting a power button on the copmuter?

    Personally i leave it on. no matter how much i get bitched at for my power consumption. In the winter i dont have to turn on my baseboard heaters, thats what my computer and 21" monitors are for :-)

     

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  11.  
    icon
    Daniel Morritt (profile), Oct 24th, 2005 @ 12:58pm

    Home/Work

    is this home or work? i turn my home computer off, several reasons including room heating ;) and bills, but my work computer is on 24/7 because of nightly updates/AV checks etc.

    the results are going to be a bit ambiguous.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Alan, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 1:16pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Such a lame plug for macs. They're no more stable than PCs these days. Face it.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 1:34pm

    No Subject Given

    At work all computers stay on all the time for reasons already listed. Now at home my webster is on 24/7, my PC and my MAC go to sleep while I am at work and when I go to sleep

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Joe Dirt, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 1:55pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    and your answer: WAKE ON LAN.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Mark, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 2:05pm

    Re: What damage?

    Damage can occur to hard drives due to stopping and starting. The microscopic heads that convert between electrical and magnetic signals are usually parked on the disk(s) when power is off. Attractive forces between the heads and the disk can build up while the heads are parked, causing damage on restart. Whether this justifies leaving a computer on is still a question involving many other factors.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Sohrab, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 2:05pm

    No Subject Given

    You guys must consider this, we are a nitch on this community who uses computer in their offices and such.

    think about the millions of people who work avg. jobs at Malls, Groceries, dealerships etc. that arent on huge servers or just dont even have access to a computer during work hours and their computers at home. Millions of us have computers that we can probably just shut down at night.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    GoldFish, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 2:34pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    My laptop sleeps or is in use. Unless I'm leaving for more than 2 days, I never shut it all the way down. That said, I figure my overall energy usage by this little wonder is much better than my old gargantuan Gateway from 8 years ago. "Sleep" is a wonderful thing.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Joe Schmoe, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 2:56pm

    No Subject Given

    For me, it's a productivity decision - I'll leave mine on as opposed to re-opening all the crap that I'm working on.

    No one has mentioned or gleaned, that by telling users to power off overnight, the biggest benefit might just be that they are re-booting [Windows]. i.e. - What's the first thing you get told by IS to do when you have a problem?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    wtf, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 4:29pm

    Re: Finding the UMVUE

    in english plz

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Scotty S., Oct 24th, 2005 @ 4:34pm

    VPN Users

    For those of us that are constantly connected turning off our box at night is a big deal. We simply can't do it. Many IT pros rely on being able to TS into their machines onsite to work.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 4:35pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    who cares? get a grip!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 5:08pm

    Power Supplies

    A Power supplies life is decreased each and every time it is turned on and off. The components life is worn down by power on conditions.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    jeremiah, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 5:09pm

    Back in teh day....

    In the late 80's/early 90's, hard drives were particularly supceptible to physical failures (remember "brakes" on the Seagate ST157N's?? MFM?? RLL?? 'Nuff said...) so it was advised to simply leave the systems on all the time. Also, the epoxy used to make PC components was more prone to cracking under temperature variances (from cold to warm as the system was used, back to cold when turned off).

    In modern PC's, this is not so much an issue. Yes, leaving your computer on indefinitely will certainly extend its life, but PC's today are not as subject to breaking simply because of temperature.

    I have an acquaintance who's a (retired) engineer for Seagate and Maxtor. He tells me to leave my drives running because the temperature variances can encourage condensation - the #1 killer of hard drives today.

    Oh yeah, and of course, your viewpoint on this topic is myopic! lol, j/k Techdirt.

    ~j~

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Mortal_Enema, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 5:30pm

    Leaking?

    My ass is leaking just like your mouth...

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Tony, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 5:46pm

    Re: Back in the day....

    Likewise, before the majority of chips were surface mounted, the on/off cycle could and would effect the pin contacts between the chip and socket. This "chip walk" was often remedied in back-rooms by techs whacking each chip with the butt-end of a screwdriver. Not something you want your customers to see... :)

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Jay, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 7:52pm

    Re: No Subject Given

    Well...
    You should/could consider standardizing on WOL.
    [http://www.intel.com/support/network/sb/cs-000084.htm]

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    The Phantom Leaker, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 8:22pm

    Re: Leaking?

    You've been eating those Ruffles with Olestra....

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    locutuss, Oct 24th, 2005 @ 10:55pm

    No Subject Given

    I leave the computers on-I just physically turn the monitor off. Saves alot of electricity and my computer is always available.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Thomas in Sweden, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 5:03am

    Save power without turning off

    I think there will be a lot of discussions of computer power consumption in the future. There is already a lot of things happening in this area. Intel has for instance their M-processors that are primarily intended for portables, but are increasingly popular in stationary computers too. Not primarly because the consume less power, but becuse they produce less heat. More heat requires more fans, more expensive PSUs and more noice from the fans. The generated heat is directly proportional to the power consumption.
    By using technology used in portables in all computers, a lot of energy can be saved.
    In portables there are things like clocking down the CPU when idle, turning of the graphics card and other parts that are not used. The HD can be turned off to of course.
    With this technology in a computer, you will save a lot of energy also when you work with the computer and you might not have to turn it off by night since the power consumption will be low when it is not used.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Pete Austin, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 6:22am

    I turn them off

    Because this building's a/c is off at night+weekends, with all the door and windows closed, and modern offices get too warm if the computers are left running, even in Winter.

    I dunno whether leaving computers on would be good or bad for the electronics, but it would certainly reduce the life of the plants.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    alva sites, Oct 25th, 2005 @ 11:56pm

    Re:monitor off

    Hi You are the first I have read about turning off monitor off ..I do same ..Also dust is rhe worst thing to damage computer ..I take this thing apart and run vaccumcleaner on reverce dust blows all over.. This thing was outdated when I bought it..Needed something to learn on that was 5 year ago.Just use it for tv,e-mail & music (no downloads)Leave on works better..This thing is a Magitronic mfd 1996 well outdated ,,It do what I wont it to do..I work at radio shack ,tv repair, tryed out new computers ,,can"t find nothing that suits my taste..stupid looking pieces of junk..
    Got everthing backed up..someday it will go;;

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    BurtD, Nov 2nd, 2005 @ 9:44pm

    Re: Re:monitor off

    No shortage of Hydro here.,,,, our cheap and renewable resource just keeps flowing and going. We have so much to spare that we even let Arnie down in CA. rack up a hydro bill that would bankrupt any company or country. BurtD here in sunny Kamloops,BC. Canada

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Pasta Sauce, Nov 2nd, 2005 @ 10:58pm

    Re: What damage?

    Well, its like a light bulb, you you flip it on and off like a strobe its going to burn out faster. same with a computer, I doubt you going to flip it on an off alot and its more complex so the damage won't be as obvious.

    However, I still turn mine off because who ever wired my house did a very crappy job and I doubt it was up to code when this house was built. (the circut for one room actually controls only half of the room and half of another. The one that controls "my room" only turns on and off two walls in my room, the room next door, and part of the living room)

    I used to just put it into sleep mode, but i got a video card that has a fan on the heat sync and it doesn't power up when i wake it up, and my new power suply doesn't respond to the sleep command, so its pretty much pointless putting it in sleep.

    Thus I have to shut it down :(
    It keeps my room warm during the day but when i wake up, its cold! rawr!

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Brett, Mar 15th, 2006 @ 2:52am

    Re: Re: What damage?

    constintly turning a pc on and can cause damage, because as components heat up they expand, as they cool down they contract. if this happens to often in a small time frame it can crack vital components.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Michael, Apr 26th, 2006 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Re: Re: What damage?

    I have a computer that I have turned off and on for 8 years with no failures...I have others that have been on for 5 years with no failures..I had one that was left on... fry...dust build up in between 6 month cleaning.. caused heat build up. my home is in semi rural area.. kinda of dusty..the computers I have now have transparent sides making it easy to check dust condition.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    today, Jul 24th, 2006 @ 6:38pm

    wol

    If you do consider Wake On Lan (WOL), which uses the 'magic packet' be sure to understand the full impact of the commands you have to enter on your routers.

    If you use 'ip directed-broadcast', which you will if you aren't on the local subnet, be sure to use access lists to limit what machines can send broadcasts. Specifically, only allow your management station.

    Otherwise, you may be opening your network up to future problems.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    tomorrow, Apr 23rd, 2010 @ 7:53am

    WOL

    Its fine and dandy that people turn off their computers. But my problem is I have some script some where that I cannot find that is sending magic packets to all the computer on the network, their are only a few that are configured to accept the Magic Packet and turn on, but as a problem they are turning on when we don't want them too. And a question that might be for some where else, How do I tell the Network card to only accept a magic packet from like 4am-7am? so as the computer doesn't turn on an hour after the owner leaves, this is a horrible dilemma.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    CLEAN, Aug 27th, 2010 @ 12:03pm

    Dirt in computer fans

    We here in the School distrist have problem with dirt buildup inprocesser fans and power supplies. If they are turned off at the end of the day each day saves two-third in filtering time. Blow out ever three years instead of ever year.

    Clean

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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