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Which is more harmful: Leaving it on or powering it up?

Last response: in Components
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January 25, 2006 7:07:16 PM

is it harmful to shutdown and startup a computer up to 5 times a day every day? Most people leave their PCs on while they are idle. Any harm in shutting down and starting up all the time?
January 26, 2006 1:32:13 PM

"Any harm in shutting down and starting up all the time?"

I doubt it, but, I prefer to just turn it on and off once per day each, and even then I really only power them off just to avoid 120 wasted idle continous watts....; I figure it saves over 10 hours the equivalent of running a 1200 watt hair dryer for an hour straight.

(There is some credence to the theory that initial power up causes the most stress on components, as voltages spike up to adjust up to specs, systems starting from cold, etc....; many leave systems on 24/7 for months on end, with no ill effects beyond wasted electricity)
January 26, 2006 1:53:53 PM

Whether you keep it on all the time or prefer to turn it on or off neither way is going to give you a significant boost in lifespan.

If you do keep it on all the time the least you could do is turn on powersaving functions after a certain amount of time. At least you'll save some power and when you want to use it next you won't have to wait for it to boot up.
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February 2, 2006 3:10:09 PM

When you turn on a computer, componants like the hard drive have to spin up from standing still. This puts them under enormous pressure and both causes more wear & tear and uses more power than if the device was left running. Componants like the CPU get a jolt everytime power is applied to the system. That is why its recomended not to turn a computer off then straight back on. You should leave off for about 30 seconds.

You need to think whats right for you. For example If you had your hard drive power down every minute it was idle it would most likely fail in a few months.

You also have different power management modes. S1 leaves hard drives powered but shuts other parts of the system down saving money. S3 powers hard drives down completely.
February 2, 2006 3:51:30 PM

(There is some credence to the theory that initial power up causes the most stress on components, as voltages spike up to adjust up to specs, systems starting from cold, etc....; many leave systems on 24/7 for months on end, with no ill effects beyond wasted electricity)


This is true to a point. the power up is the most harmful to any electronic device due to power spikes when electricity is applied. The power wasted is in how you look at it. Using the right power save features in idle the power wasted is no different than running an alarm clock, you are only running what is needed to wait for an input from you to restart all the power saved components. basicly just the motherboard is running waiting for a signal from the mouse or keyboard. But as Enigma2100 has stated it all depends on what is right for you.
February 2, 2006 4:07:44 PM

Constantly powering up and down your system raises and lowers the teperature of the parts as well and ass the different materials expand and contract at different rates with each temperature change this results in a massive increases in "chip creep". That will harm a system.
February 2, 2006 4:11:59 PM

I agree with the line share of statments here.. I used to worry about it too.. but then i talked to my Computer store fella .. who assured my my 3 year warranty was good.. Given the amount of hardware i replace in 3 years.. .. i havnt given it another thought since.. well.. cept to make this post of course.. heh im such a hypocrite :}



Bottom line.. if its new and warrantied.. Meh..
if its old and clunky and you cant afford to replace any parts .. then extra care is a good thing..
February 2, 2006 7:08:22 PM

Technically safer to leave on 24/7 if you have a UPS.
If not the chance of a line spike negates the impact that frequent start up shut downs cause, so they are about equal.
I keep mine on 24/7 with two UPS's...
February 7, 2006 9:17:38 AM

Turning it off of couse :!:
How can you fold 24/7 if you turn it off :?: :?: :?:
February 8, 2006 8:41:44 PM

I find it better to just leave them on. When you first turn on a computer, the entire system basically goes into shock which over time, decreases the lifespan.

If you live in extreme climates, the constant rise and fall of the temps will certainly have impact on the lifespan.

I generally leave my systems on and do a soft reboot when I feel they need it.
February 13, 2006 5:22:28 PM

I leave mine on and i read that it's better to use hibernation mode to decrese the stress from boot up. then after i say about 10 minutes when it's warmed do a reset. It might be safer but all this stuff is time consuming so there's no reall test on it all. Also,yes, switching from cold to hot in a matter of minutes repeadly isnt good due to the stress on the parts like video cards and cpu. hope this helps
February 13, 2006 5:55:43 PM

Hesitating to be completely definitive, I can only offer actual stats:
XP2000/AsusA7N266vm.....kid's toy, 8 years old, off and on all day,
or on all nite, or whatever. Still running strong, 53 CPU, 45 MB.
XP2500/Abit NF7 V.2.....same thing, 50 CPU, 38 MB
Can't say for newer components, peripherals, etc. but I've built a lot
of systems and never a problem from startup and shutdowns.
Beware the dreaded power surge!
February 13, 2006 6:13:23 PM

"Constantly powering up and down your system raises and lowers the teperature of the parts as well and ass the different materials expand and contract at different rates with each temperature change this results in a massive increases in "chip creep". That will harm a system."

this is currently the largest red herring.

think on these facts:

Hibernation mode --turns components OFF.
Going from room temperature to idle is the same difference as going from idle to full load. (in both cases, no one thinks twice about using the features.)

Heat is the biggest risk to computer components ..yet no one worries too much about overclocking.

The average upgrade path is 4 years (2 for a video card) but
a solid state component can have an actuation life cycle of up to 100 000 (or turning it on/off 5x a day for 52 years)

Only 1 second of real time energy is used to start a computer.

These days we have excellent power supplies, power bars, and components that make surge worries a trifle.

Turning off the computer a few times a day is a no brainer ...but using hibernate is even better.

One of the few worries about 24/7 operation are the rare design defects that can still bring you low when you are not looking.

Example: hacker intrusions.

and..the ASUS a8n-sli deluxe motherboard (in its first incarnation) -- A cpu can detect and shutoff when a fan fails these days ...but not the chipset. On this board ...chipset fan failure was almost a given and put you at serious risk if you were not around to shutdown.


Finally, saving power is much more of a concern ...so use the power saving features :) 
February 13, 2006 6:13:46 PM

i read about this somewhere once. it was an urban myth that its better for your components to remain off or idle. this is false, as hard drives now adays have safer operating parts that don't go under stress they used to. also, if you want to save power/heat, use hibernation. its an efficient way to keep your cpu quiet and cold without losing memory data.
February 14, 2006 4:19:30 AM

It is no myth, but is not as much a factor with today's hardware as of yesterdays.
But think of your experiences when your PC died. I can think of quite a few that powered down fine, and upon boot errors arose crashing PC.
February 14, 2006 4:46:49 AM

Yeah man, mine too. I have about 260 days of folding to do to finished the project. I'm afraid my pc won't last that long constantly running. It provides nice heat in my room but may increase my bills. I switch my pc on and off about 5 times a day and no negative result now its' on all the time doing this protien folding thing.
February 14, 2006 5:23:15 AM

I read a study on this about a year ago (I forget where). Basically, they ran this test on a few systems over a two year span of so, and found a mriginal difference, but nothing conclusive. It depends on your preferences.

I leave mine on, cause I run bittorrent and other large downloads overnight. But when I travel for work, off it goes.
February 14, 2006 6:59:50 AM

Hmmm... good question. I've got a few Netra t150's at work that haven't been power cycled for almost six years, and frankly we're afraid to.

Single drive devices are a sure problem in an operational environment. Bearing 'stiction' in HD devices seems to be an issue when doing a power cycle in a device that has run for several (or many) years. By that, I mean the energy required to start a drive from a full stop may overcome its poor little motor's ability to deliver, given the (often single) bearing's state of wear.

So what to do? A production environment is different... We don't worry about power bills, have 24 x 7 product / platform support, and change out equipment as our suppliers advise.

On the other hand, I power up my home PC (which I also consider to be part of our 'production environment' as I depend on it for my 24 x 7 support to our platforms) generally once in the AM, to check overnight emails, browse a bit, maybe play a bit of solitaire... Then shut it down. I then power it up in the PM for a bit more of the same, check out the TV selections, etc., then shut it down again.

I do frequent backups (to a NAS device) and test restores monthly. My primary drive is not fast, large, or expensive, so if it fails so be it.

I generally replace the mb (and maybe all the other bits) about every three years.

I do have a very good UPS, so power is not a concern. I have never had a failure at home that I could blame on 'fair wear and tear'.

To run or not to run? I vote for the latter, at least at home.
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