Should I shut “OFF” my PC or leave it “ON”?

There has been a lot of debate over the years whether you should power down your computer daily or just leave it “on” all of the time. I’ve always been a firm believer of powering the computer”off” when finished using it at the end of the day. When I was managing a computer network, the standard I had in place required all users to power down their PC’s prior to going home. If I found a PC “on”, then I remotely powered it “off”. I still use this same practice at home. During the day, I turn the computer “on”, and all peripheral components (i.e. drives, router, etc…), via a power strip (surge protector); then, I power the computer “off” at the end of the day (prior to going to bed) or if I leave the house for an extended period of time. My theories and reasonings for this practice are as follows:

 

  1. A computer that is left “on” all the time, is a potential security risk and is an open invitation internally (by other people) and externally (by hackers and such). (Especially when your network is connected to the outside world AND due to the fact the majority of people, and businesses, do not keep their security software up to date.)
  2. Extends the life of the computer. (A common debate is that turning the PC “on” and “off” promotes a negative impact on the “service life” of the computer. I personally can attest that most computers, with today’s advanced technology, will reach the end of their “useful life” prior to their actual “service life”, even if you turn them “on” and “off” multiple times.);
  3. Could be a potential fire hazard. (I’ve seen computers and monitors go up in smoke.);
  4. Can save electricity. (See U.S. Department of Energy – “When To Turn Off Personal Computers“);
  5. Refreshes the memory and the memory resident programs and services in the computer when you completely do a “cold restart” of the computer. (Many people let their PC’s go into a “sleep/standy mode” or “hibernate” mode. I still prefer what is called a “cold” restart.);
  6. Will keep the internal components of the computer cleaner. (When a computer is “on”, the fans are pushing and pulling air to keep components cool; however, this air flow is a dust magnet.); AND FINALLY,
  7. Your icons on the computer screen, over the life of the computer, will start to war with each other. (Watch what actually can happen – click on the graphic, “Icon’s Story” for a demo. The demo is in Adobe Flash.)

 

DEMO – Watch What Happens to Your Icons At Night If You Leave Your Computer “ON”
(click on the logo, then wait for it to load)

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9 Responses to Should I shut “OFF” my PC or leave it “ON”?

  1. Tech Paul says:

    At last! Someone has captured on video what I have long suspected was occuring on my machine when I wasn’t looking. Now I have proof!

    Too funny!

  2. whatsonmypc says:

    Took me awhile to figure out what all that noise was at night and here all long it was my “icons” fighting…

  3. Bill Mullins says:

    Hey Rick,

    Terrific advise, particularly point #1. Most people are unaware that unless they turn off “wake on lan” in their BIOS, it’s possible (unlikely), but still possible, for the machine to be activated without their knowledge.

    Personally, I disconnect each of my machines physically from the Net each night, on power down. Paranoid? Unfortunately, there is no such thing while a machine is connected to the Internet, powered down or not.

    Thanks for a great article.

    BM

  4. whatsonmypc says:

    Hello Bill,

    Thank you for pointing out the “Wakeup On Lan” feature built into the BIOS on PCs…

    One thing I did, as a temporary disconnect from the internet, etc… I created a “shortcut” to my Local Area Connection, that I conveniently placed. I then right click on the shortcut, and select “disable” to turn “off” my connection, then “enable” to turn it back “on”… Just tested on a reboot (Vista box), if it would remain disabled and it did for me… Don’t know how the WOL would do in that scenario, if the connection has been disabled in Windows… Good to hear from you…

    Rick

  5. Jeremy says:

    Don’t know if the icon war holds much water but the other points are sound. However there are many debates about points 2 and 4. Typically, Harddrives are the only thing you need to worry about as the spin-up is the most likely the time the drive will fail.

    Of course, many will say that powering on the PC uses the most power because all of your components are spinning up, runing self-tests, ect… Just use a power meter at startup and you’ll see the difference from the spike at startup and the bottom-out when the PC is idle. Don’t get me started on the High-end gamers…I’m about to move from 750W of usage to 1000W…. At this point, saving power means very little.

    You needn’t worry about new hardware once the breakin period has been estabilished as MTTF occurs several hundreds of thousands of hours down the road. Even new solid capacitors are rated at 5 years at 86 degrees C. (source: http://www.tomshardware.com/picturestory/471-10-nehalem-x58-motherboard.html)

    Here’s some fuel for the fire for you paranoid un-pluggers: http://www.tgdaily.com/content/view/39455/128

  6. Jeremy says:

    Sorry… Source for harddrive failure rates: http://research.google.com/archive/disk_failures.pdf

    “there is no significant correlation between failures and high power cycles count. For drives 3 years and older, higher power cycle counts can increase the absolute failure rate by 2%”

  7. whatsonmypc says:

    To my readers; Jeremy is whom I (we) hired to take my place when I retired. I look at him as version 2 of me… Jeremy, thanks for the information and resources provided to support your response to this post. As always, very much appreciated.

  8. pg2nj says:

    Loved ‘Icon Story’!

    I’ve always turned off my computer at night to save energy. Was this article referring to turning off the computer manually (ie; actually pressing the power button) or turning it off by the start menu? I’ve heard the former ruins your ‘C’ drive.

    As a side note: I’ve heard the techies at the big computer company’s are working on something called MRAM (Magnetic RAM). Supposed to give instantaneous boot-ups.. Yay! :)

    ~Phil

    PS-I’ve started a blog..All feel free to check it out: http://myviewworldview.wordpress.com

    • whatsonmypc says:

      Phil,

      I recommend turning the PC off via the “Start Menu”… Good luck on your blog… Will check into the MRAM!

      Rick

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