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Best to leave your computer on or turn it off?

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Last response: in CPUs
April 3, 2007 3:16:48 AM

My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?

More about : leave computer turn

April 3, 2007 3:25:56 AM

It actually goes both ways.

The thing is, when you turn the PC on is where it can cause the most wear/tear on the HD, and chips. The power spike that all the components go through when powered up.

Though, turning it off does has its benefits. Save on electric bills. You can expect less dust build up in your rig.

I've always turned my PC off. Though, I knew a friend who left his PC on all the time. One main difference between him and me, he went through allot more HD and MB's then I did. Though, what we both determined, it was from power spikes during the day or night to where it possibly took out his PC components.

I haven't really had any serious problems when turning the PC off when not in use.
April 3, 2007 3:27:24 AM

hmmm i too would like to know what is better.. so someone respond
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April 3, 2007 3:28:21 AM

Quote:
Who's right?


The logic.

It all depends on what you use your pc for. If you're concerned about the lifespan of your pc than it shouldn't be a problem if you got a stable system with good cooling.
April 3, 2007 3:30:48 AM

Didn't they do something like this on Mythbusters (except with a lightbulb)?
April 3, 2007 3:34:28 AM

That was based on saving energy. They did test with that P3 Kill A Watt meter, that I brought. :lol: 

Edit:

I think it was also about how long the light bulb would last longer leaving it on vs swiching off and on.
April 3, 2007 3:38:25 AM

Yep, thats what I was referring to.. the second test of how many light switch flips it took to kill a lightbulb,

haha, now try that with your computer.
April 3, 2007 3:42:10 AM

:lol: 
April 3, 2007 4:24:28 AM

I always thought the argument was about the fact that when you turn the power on everything heats up and when you turn it off everything cools down. This heating and cooling causes components to expand and contract and thus reduces their life. I personally think that it really doesn't make any difference. I leave my machine on and set XP to power the monitor and HD down after 30 min of inactivity. In my opinion the drive spin up is not as bad as leaving the drive spinning for hours for no reason.
April 3, 2007 4:46:56 AM

NM
April 3, 2007 5:00:16 AM

i leave mine on but i allso use it allday everyday its my TV my music and my gaming and when i go to sleep i use it to download my hard drive i got when i brought the rig (a year ago) has been on for 286 days i think its more about seting the power saving rite so that things turn of when there not used i also find that its the fans that fall the most
a b à CPUs
April 3, 2007 5:22:21 AM

I turn it off myself. It's really personal preference.
April 3, 2007 5:37:11 AM

In my experience it's best to leave them on.

My comp an Athlon64 x2 overclocked to 2.5GHz has been running folding home for a year now. No problems I leave it on for 24/7.
The mobo I had before this one failed after a yeaar and a half.
It wasnt a complete failure I just couldnt keep the ram on 400MHz but had to keep it on 333MHz (it wasnt rams fault).

I have so many comps at my home and have been building them ever since early 90s. In all that time I fried a mobo (my mistake), a hdd (IBM known bad series) died on me and now this gigabyte mobo. Thats it. All these comps were running pretty much 24/7.
April 3, 2007 5:44:49 AM

Quote:
Didn't they do something like this on Mythbusters (except with a lightbulb)?

Ya, they put a hard-dive in a steam-boiler cannon and saw how well the platters can be weapons in pre-history.
Or maybe that was CD-ROMs in microwaves.
Anyway, I remeber some explosion.
On the topic, I was old in the OLD days ( late 70's) to keep the (pre)PCs on because the the power-switch can break with heavy use and it took a few seconds for the bits and current on the bus to slow-down.
April 3, 2007 6:21:54 AM

From working on modern PCs in the service area I have found the people who leave the computer on all the time have hard drive issues sooner. The power output from your wall AC line changes throughout the day and it is hard on your PSU and components to keep up with that. So if you are going to keep it on get yourself a UPS to prevent that.

Also with the advent of ATX you have a constant 4.5V or so running through your system even if it is off. And when you push that power button it is a soft step up in power, unlike AT which was like a light switch and was very harmful for all your stuff in the box.

As PSUs get better and ATX 2.0 becomes standard. Turn it off if you don't need it. Or atleast get yourself a PSU and use some smart power man. settings so your stuff isn't going full tilt when you are not using it.

My two cents anyhow.
April 3, 2007 6:30:50 AM

Quote:
My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?

technically, the computer wouldn't suffer any serious performance decline if you leave your computer on 24/7. however, as someone already pointed out, if you leave your computer on, chances are your HDDs are going to expire soon.

turning off PC when you're not in use also has other benefits. taking temperature for example, if you turn off your PC for several hours, computer components will take the time to cool down, thus increasing their lifetime.
April 3, 2007 7:08:36 AM

I have a coin.... call it in the air. Queens or animals?

For typical home quality I personally don't think it means a tinker's one way or the other. There are some power saving tricks you can use with newer OS's, etc.

I turn mine off at night so I can get a good night's sleep.

In the server room, its a bit different... I've got some servers with an uptime of over seven years! We're too damned scared to turn them off, even for maintenance, as the drives may not spin back up, the cpu might fry...
April 3, 2007 7:38:14 AM

Quote:
I always thought the argument was about the fact that when you turn the power on everything heats up and when you turn it off everything cools down. This heating and cooling causes components to expand and contract and thus reduces their life. I personally think that it really doesn't make any difference. I leave my machine on and set XP to power the monitor and HD down after 30 min of inactivity. In my opinion the drive spin up is not as bad as leaving the drive spinning for hours for no reason.


Bingo.
Heating and cooling the CPU or other parts cause microscopic expansion cracks...and when the media has only nonometers between circut traces you really DO NOT want to do this very often.

As far as HD's go I only had one die on me in the past 10 years and it was the IBM Deskstar which just stopped spinning after only four months.

I have drives that have been in constant use for 7 years and as the spinning slowly moves the surface media towards the outside (yes it happens just as window glass slowly moves under gravity) it needs to be "refreshed" to keep the data under the heads.
I use SPINRIGHT to refresh the drives two times a year.

The only time I turn one of the computers off is if I will be away a few days or to clean the dust out twice a year....or an upgrade.

The main parts failure I have ever had are with PSU's as the caps in most die after 3-4 years. I also had three Asus MB's die for the same reason and time span.
I stopped buying Antec and now use PC Power and Cooling.

I have only had one CPU fan and one GPU fan die due to dust/pet hair finding it's way to the spindle befor planed upgrades.

EDIT: Four days ago I had a short 2-3 sec power outage and one of the computers UPS failed to do it's job correctly...I ended up with a corrupted HD that would no longer boot.
I used SPINRITE on it over night and the thing runs just like new with all data intact.
April 3, 2007 8:09:16 AM

I leave mine on pretty much 24/7 unless I am going out of town. There are several reasons for this, including the aforementioned heat and rotational stress issues. In my experience, through years of work in various support positions, I have seen FAR more hardware failures occur at startup or shutdown than I have while running.

As for power fluctuations, while there's no substitute for a good UPS, a decent surge strip and a PSU with Active Power Factor Correction go a long way toward eliminating damage from small spikes and drops.

As a side note, I did have a MB blow a cap on me before (and I mean pop like a grenade), and still work fine for a few weeks until I had the chance to get a replacement.
April 3, 2007 8:53:01 AM

Jack explained about the motors of the hard disk drives. I will add something else. If your system is off for a long period of time(months), the capacitors may dry out, faster than if you are using it occasionally . Also if your system is always turned on, the capacitors will dry out faster.
When your system is turned on, parts of the logic are exploited, no matter how the system resources(CPU, GPU, RAM) are utilized. Although their life-time is huge, compared to the average system usefulness time, it is limited and is being wasted when your system is on.
The best is to turn it on when you need it. For example, you don't need your PC when you are sleeping, so turn it off then.
April 3, 2007 9:58:13 AM

I protect my rig with Automatic Voltage Regulator and APC 500VA UPS. My oldest working computer is Pentium II 350Mhz way back 1998 to date. I usually turn it off because electricity here in Philippines is expensive. It runs 24/7 on weekends and holidays only when I'm around. The Maxtor 10GB is still spotless.
April 3, 2007 10:47:01 AM

Hey! Do your part SAVE THE WORLD!!!!!!!!!! Take the oil money out of his ass You know the one with the UNITED STATES SOLDIERS Taken as prisoners of war. While AT THIS Moment while running a nuke program and killing us in Middle East.

We should take a pole KILL HIM OR NOT?

Should we, let him, hold our Marines? and how Long?

How should we do his ass?
Quote:
The Only Real Truth. Is one's own Perseption.


Have a nice Day, AND lOVE ONE ANOTHER
April 3, 2007 10:47:54 AM

RANT
a b à CPUs
April 3, 2007 11:06:11 AM

Quote:
I have drives that have been in constant use for 7 years and as the spinning slowly moves the surface media towards the outside (yes it happens just as window glass slowly moves under gravity) it needs to be "refreshed" to keep the data under the heads.

That would be due to centrifugal force wouldnt it? Or was it centripetal? One of them lol
April 3, 2007 11:28:55 AM

Jesus. I can't believe you discussed this. How about: turn it off, you're wasting energy!!!

It's like two people debating what the best way is to rape a goat. How about, don't rape goats...
April 3, 2007 1:35:03 PM

Quote:
My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?


You can use the standby or suspend mechanisms. I use standby so that it does use less power when I'm not using it but I don't have to reopen all of my programs.
a b à CPUs
April 3, 2007 2:10:15 PM

I have computers that have been running 24-7 only being occasionally shut down or restarted for software upgrades, program installs etc. that have been running for 5 years, and are still running doing just fine, and have NEVER had a single hardware issue or failure.

It does seem to me that PC's that get shut down everyday seem to have more hardware failures requiring fixes than the ones running all the time.

However, this could a little biased as I have about a dozen or so workstations that do get shut down everyday, and only 3 systems that run all the time. I dunno. Maybe it really doesn't matter? :?
April 3, 2007 2:11:08 PM

For home PCs, it seriously doesn't matter one way or another as far as the life of the PC. I think Toms even had an article on this. For me, mine's on 24X7, but its always doing something whether its crunching algorithms or downloading torrents.
April 3, 2007 2:22:01 PM

Quote:
My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?


You can use the standby or suspend mechanisms. I use standby so that it does use less power when I'm not using it but I don't have to reopen all of my programs.

Ok myth buster anybody, I also do the standbye -

I've heard that leaving your computer on standbye uses less engergy than booting it up... over the long haul. I think this is FUD, but does anybody know?
April 3, 2007 2:27:59 PM

the rule is : if u r using ur PC for 8hrs or more per day, leave it ON, otherwise turn it off....

mine, it's only off during brown out....
April 3, 2007 2:38:56 PM

What about hibernate? 5 seconds rather than 20 seconds of "burst" compared to shutdown.
April 3, 2007 2:43:39 PM

Quote:
My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?


You can use the standby or suspend mechanisms. I use standby so that it does use less power when I'm not using it but I don't have to reopen all of my programs.

Ok myth buster anybody, I also do the standbye -

I've heard that leaving your computer on standbye uses less engergy than booting it up... over the long haul. I think this is FUD, but does anybody know?


It is true. You can actually test it. Suspend the machine and resume in quiet. Then turn off the machine and turn on in quiet. The machine uses a lot more power in POST as my fans roar up like jets.
April 3, 2007 2:44:15 PM

Hardware longevity is just like how some processors overclock better than others, even though they are the same CPU on the same hardware. That's just how things are. Also by the time something actually dies from being turned on and off you'll probably want to replace it anyway.

As far as leaving things on or turning them off...mmm...I turn my stuff off once a week, and I use standby at night. The only problem I've ever run into is my hard drive is starting to go on me. I'll replace it whenever I upgrade to Vista...probably around August or so. The HDD is also 5 years old though.

And although standby uses more Wattage per hour than being off, it's a heck of alot less than being left on all night.

To be honest. by the time a piece of hardware actually fails from being turned on and off everyday, you'll probably want to replace it anyway.
April 3, 2007 3:54:38 PM

Personal preference.

At least 8 of the computers at my work have been on 24/7 since 1993 and are still operating. The rest have been running 24/7 for AT LEAST 5 years and run good. As long as you keep the fans clean, keep the dust out and allow for good ventilation, no problem leaving it on 24/7.

However, my home computer is shut down every day before bed. I do have it hooked up to a UPS, but if the power were to go out, I don't want to keep it running till the battery in the UPS dies. MY preference.
April 3, 2007 4:25:49 PM

Ethicly - we all should reduce power consumption as much as possible

On the technical side it really doesn't matter for home PC's as they are not mission critical - that is - the failure of the system will not cause any real harm - other than cutting into your game time or chat session - if the part fails you replace it - everyone should be prepared for some kind of component failure because it will happen to some part at some time - that is why mission critical computer systems like servers have redundancy and automatic back up systems - they run 24/7 and are expected to have some kind of failure at some point -

Older hard drives that ran 24/7 for years and then were shut down sometimes failed to start up again due to stiction.
April 3, 2007 5:02:04 PM

I think this was a much bigger issue in the past and not so much now. Parts are much, much more durable now and as Applejuice said above, it is a soft start since there is always voltage trickling into your system. You can set it to sleep as well (S3).

Personally I turn mine off unless I'll be around all day and getting on and off of it. My wife flips her on in the morning and leaves it on. It goes into S3 after 25 minutes.
April 3, 2007 5:03:36 PM

Quote:
Didn't they do something like this on Mythbusters (except with a lightbulb)?


They tested the power draw when a light was turned on and found that traditional fluorescent lights pull a fair amount of power when they come on and all the rest didn't pull much. Something like 20-30 seconds (if I remember correctly) of normal power use to turn on a fluorescent.

they also tested normal power draw and found that an led light bulb (looks funny as can be) used the least and I think it was the only bulb to survive their stress test of constantly turning the lights on and off to stimulate five years' worth of on/off cycles.
April 3, 2007 5:13:18 PM

Quote:
My friend and I had a discussion about this the other day. I turn my computer off when I'm not using it. My logic is that there are moving parts, and the more they move, the sooner they wear. My buddy's logic for leaving his on all the time is that the power surges from turning the computer off and on are hard on the machine. Who's right?



For the past 13 years or so I have ALWAYS turned off my home computer at night. Also, I have NEVER turned off my work computer when going home (unless specifically told to do so by the IT guy, a few times a year). The reasons are probably irrelevant - in general it's because at home I want silence at night and lower electric bills while at work the computer needs to run some things over night or just be available for access to its shared drives. Either way, I haven't got any trouble. I had an 80386 SX computer that lasted 4 years and then I gave it away, a Pentium 3 still going strong after 7 years, a bunch of Pentium 4's. I never had hard drives crashing or CPUs burning out.
April 3, 2007 5:36:08 PM

The hardest thing you can do to an electronic device is to turn in on/off constantly. I use my computer daily and keep it on 24/7 - except when I re & re a piece of hardware, of course :D 
a c 460 à CPUs
April 3, 2007 5:36:39 PM

On my SOHO (small office / home office) 9 box network, I leave the business machines (mommy's, daddy's, employees) on 24/7 and the home (kid's) machines go off at night.

The Pentium 300 SCSI server has been running 24/7 since last millenium with only a P600 upgrade and 2 of the 3 HD's being replaced. Most of the others in the office are now laptops which have so many energy saving features, there's hardly a reason to turn them off when plugged in.

The 3 kids machines have all had hard drive and optical drive failures though they typically are newer overall. Component level is comparable as the hardware demands for the office (AutoCAD) and the kids (gaming) are virtually identical.

Main reason they go off at night is I don't want them sneaking up and playing till all hours of the night and then being half asleep in school the next day. :) 
April 3, 2007 7:29:59 PM

Quote:
At first blush, I would say no to answer your question.

In standby, the computer still consumes energy (requires power), if that were 20 Watts, leaving it in standby over night (say 10 hours) would be 200 Watt-Hours.

Starting up your computer, say a 3 minute boot time, would need to draw
4000 watts over 3 minutes in order to equal the energy consumed by putting it in to standby over 10 hours (I am assuming 20 Watts at standby, I don't know the actual consumption without looking it up).

Jack


If you want one result on power consumption, here is one from my old system using the P3 Kill A Watt Meter. So this is based on only the PC:

Idle: 110-119watts (3 fans adjustable)
Load CPU - 190watts (Prime95 using most heat option)
Load CPU - 180-183 (Blend)
Load CPU/GPU - 219max (using 3dmark)
Standby: 90 watts (87w with fans on low)
POST/Bootup:113-170 watts (varies allot)
In Bios:142 watts

The PC itself:
Asus P4PE
Northwood P4 3.0/800/HT
ePower Cheeta 450W PSU
1/80Gig Seagate HD
AGP 6800GS
1/Sony DVD-R
1/1gig A-Data DDR400
1/120-LS floppy drive
4x80mm fan
1x120mm (FM121) modded on Zalman 7700
1x80mm led slot fan
1x92mm Zalman HS fan VF-700

Even when I monitor the P3 K-A-W meter on my UPS (APC 1400) the watts are even greater since it shows all power consumption. The UPS itself draws 30watts, even if the batteries are fully charged.

Though, I'd would really like to test my dad's PC once it's built with the E4400 to see the results.

Who knows, I might start a thread on this lil meter later on.
April 3, 2007 8:13:44 PM

Typically, I think that hard drives fail because their bearings wear out.
The more the computer is on, the sooner the bearings will wear out.
April 3, 2007 8:27:58 PM

Quote:
It runs 24/7 on weekends and holidays only when I'm around.


:lol:  :roll:
April 3, 2007 9:01:56 PM

Seems like the age-old debate marches on with neither side making a substantially convincing argument one way or the other.
April 3, 2007 9:09:46 PM

Quote:
Seems like the age-old debate marches on with neither side making a substantially convincing argument one way or the other.


I haven't read every post but from what I have read, nobody has given evidence that there is any drawbacks to shutting a computer down. I think it is established that parts like hard drives and fans wear out faster when left on all the time. Turning off a computer obviously elimenates noise and reduces power consumption. So, in my opinion shutting off the computer at least at night is the best way to go. I can see keeping it on durring the day for convenience sake, but I don't see much benefit to leaving it on all night.
April 3, 2007 9:25:12 PM

It really boils down in how people look at it.

For home users, an electric bill will be looked upon. If you want to some money, its best to use it when you need it.

Power spikes can happen at any time, which can result on some kind of hardware failure, PSU-RAM-chipsets-capacitors-HD whether its on 24/7 or just a typical 8 hours.

Though, I personally find that HD's usually tends to wear out the most. But then the HD is one component that has physical working parts that will eventually break down, and there are so many different reasons for it (worn bearrings, motor short, head hits platter, not enough cooling, power spike). I've even seen CPU fans wear out on a 24/7 usage.

I rarely see components like CPU or motherboard die from regular usage, unless I was present when a power spike or surge happens. But most of the time the PSU blows up. :lol: 

But ya, this can be an on going debate. So many different views.
April 3, 2007 11:28:45 PM

Quote:
That would be due to centrifugal force wouldnt it? Or was it centripetal? One of them lol


April 3, 2007 11:35:21 PM

I do find myself wondering how many times we can possibly have this discussion.
Anonymous
April 4, 2007 12:11:17 AM

it depends on personal choice and computer too. like my pc i have so many fans that if i leave it on i won't be able to sleep. and second depends on computer if it's celeron it's fine to leave it on. but if it's dual core with high end graphic card like my 8800 gts it's better to turn it off cause 8800 gts consumes about 110 watts of power alone so you save both your ears and your electric bill.
Anonymous
April 4, 2007 12:12:46 AM

it depends on personal choice and computer too. like my pc i have so many fans that if i leave it on i won't be able to sleep. and second depends on computer if it's celeron it's fine to leave it on. but if it's dual core with high end graphic card like my 8800 gts it's better to turn it off cause 8800 gts consumes about 110 watts of power alone so you save both your ears and your electric bill.
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