Benefits of leaving my computer on 24/7...

Is there any benefits to leaving my computer on all the time? What are the potential cons? It’s a relatively beefy homegrown concoction. External router, cable connection, overclocked 3 gig processor and a couple fans…thats about the extent of my computer knowledge. My BIL set up the machine for me…But I am currently just shutting it off at night. Is this a bad thing?

I don’t know what benefits there are to leaving it on, but I think that by turning it off when you don’t need it, you can:

-Save energy (however little)
-Reduce heat (if your computer generates a lot of it, like mine does – my room goes from very cold to very hot after the computer has been running a while)
-Reboot your computer (useful for clearing up memory, etc.)

I am not a computer expert by any means, but I can tell you my personal experience if you’re interested…

I used to leave my computer on 24/7 and that went on for about two years. One morning, I woke up and the entire room smelled like smoke. It turned out my power supply just blew (well, burned) itself up and died. I’m lucky there wasn’t a fire or anything and that no other component was damaged. My friend, who had a similar computer with the same power supply, suffered the same fate a few weeks later. We both stopped leaving our computers on unnecessarily after that. Fast forward a few years. Another friend of mine builds a new computer and then leaves it on 24/7. Within a year, a stick of RAM completely died and now one of his hard drives only works 50% of the time. Same with his monitor.

Meanwhile, I never had a problem with my computer that I shut off every day.

Ok… as you can see, that’s by no means a scientific study or anything even remotely close to it :slight_smile: I’ve heard of many people who leave their computers on forever without suffering any ill effects. I guess my friends and I were either just unlucky, or those failures were caused by something completely unrelated. I don’t really know, but well, that’s what happened to me.

There was a mailbag article on this topic, but, IMHO, it didn’t explain very much. I think this page offers a better explanation:

So I’d vote for turning it off when you don’t need it. But that’s just me.

It is harder on a computer to turn it off and on through out the day. If you get off and on all day, leave it on. If you on for a few hours then off till the next day then turn it off. It is hard on the hard drive to go off and on like that. I work in an office in that has PC that have not been off in a year!

The main advantage to turning it off is that you’ll save power. The main advantages to leaving it on are that you can continue processing things while you’re not sitting at it, you can access it remotely if it’s set up for it, and you won’t have to wait as long when you want to use it. There are also some wear and tear issues, but from what I’ve heard, those go both ways and are pretty much a wash. If you’re interested in processing continuously or remote access, then you probably don’t need to ask the question, so it comes down to the power usage vs. the convenience of not having to wait for bootup. You should at least turn off the monitor, since it uses a large chunk of the power, but most modern computers will do this for you, if you leave it alone for a few minutes.

My brother the computer engineer recommends keeping your computer on, but letting the screen saver work and letting the hard drive power down (“sleep”). But he also recommends unplugging your computer if you will be gone for more than a couple days, and to unplug it during a lightning storm.

I vote for leaving it on.

I initial surge of power through the PC, day in and day out, is by far worse than it’s continual operation. But, of course, as Walloon says, you must exercise a little common sense during storms and extended periods of no use.

I leave mine on pretty much all the time.

Why? I’m a network administrator, and large uptimes turn me on (I’m at 8,045,776 seconds as of this writing, which actually dates back to the day I built the PC).

Seriously, I like being able to wake up in the morning and see at a glance if I have any e-mail. I like being able to receive instant messages while I’m away or asleep, it’s like a modernized answering machine. I also run some backups and maintenance at off-hours and connect to my system remotely from work.

It’s a matter of personal preference more than anything.

Agreed - mine has been on for three years except for servicing/upgrades & spring-cleaning. The processor fan is slowly dying but I can’t get a repplacement. When it dies it will take the processor & motherboard with it, but considering the age of the machine, it’s probably time it was retired anyway. I have always held with the theory that constant power-up/power-down inflicts a lot of thermal and mechanical stress on various components.

Yeah, you don’t have to flip the switch.

I once asked a WD HD guy if it were better to turn it off or not & he said in theory they should be the same but in practice they last longer if you turn them off at night.

I’m confused as to the terminology here. I always “Shut Down” my computer when I’m thru using it for the time being, but I don’t shut the power off. I’ve always considered this in “sleep mode,” but I may be wrong. As I understand it, the hard drive is still on in this mode and automatic actions can take place. Refreshing the memory is not an issue, as the PC article indicates, because by shutting it down, the memory is erased. When I return to the computer, I push the power button on, and the computer starts its BIOS scan, etc.

So, by not “shutting down,” do you mean just leave it on and let the screen saver take over? Severian’s post indicates that this is what that person does, but other replies indicate not “shutting down” means to Start-Shut Down, but not shut off, as I do, and as I take the OP to mean.

Aside of a few crashes and maintenance, my work comp has been on 2 years straight.

My brand new box at home only stays on just as much as I need it, not a second more. (it runs real hot)

Let the computer put the monitor and hard drives into standby mode (not screensaver) Power suply fan operates and memory is active - routine housekeeping operations take pale if scheduled (scandisk, defrag, AV system check) hit the mouse or a key and it ‘wakes up’ in about 4 seconds.

All of the stuff inside your computer wears out the longer you use it. This is especially true of things that move. Moving things inside a computer are the hard drive and cooling fans. Even things that don’t move like the CPU do wear out over time. If you turn your computer off when you don’t use it, then you minimize these wearing out effects.

This does not necessarily mean that turning off your computer is better. Your computer is made of a lot of different materials, and different materials expand and contract at different rates. An easy way to shatter a drinking glass is to take it out of the dishwasher while it’s still hot and run it under cold water. The different rates in contraction from one side of the glass to the other will destroy it, rather dramatically. The same thing happens inside your computer. As different materials expand and contract, they tend to break apart. The trouble spots are typically solder joints and the itty bitty wires inside the computer chips that connect the silicon to the outside world (the wires tend to lift up off of the pad, and then your chip stops working).

So, if you leave it on all the time you’ve got one set of forces trying to kill it. If you turn it on and off you’ve got another set of forces trying to kill it. Which of these is worse for your particular computer isn’t necessarily all that easy to calculate. Even if you leave the computer turned off all the time there’s an aging effect in silicon trying to kill it, so no matter what you can’t win. Something is always trying to kill it.

A lot of the power saver modes of a modern computer happen to turn off the things most likely to die if left on all the time, the hard drives and the monitor. Make sure you have a decent quality CPU fan and power supply fan if you leave your computer on all the time, because these often won’t spin down in power saver mode. Also, if your power system experiences a lot of brownouts and power blips, you might do a lot better to leave the computer off when not in use.

I leave my work computers on 24/7. I turn off my home computers at night, except for one system which is on 24/7. In the past five or six years I’ve lost two hard drives at work due to brownouts, and one modem at home from lightning.


Let the computer put the monitor and hard drives into standby mode (not screensaver) Power suply fan operates and memory is active - routine housekeeping operations take pale if scheduled (scandisk, defrag, AV system check) hit the mouse or a key and it ‘wakes up’ in about 4 seconds.

Power ON/Off button is not involved.

I don’t have standby mode on my ME computer. Only Shut down computer.

Well, I vote turn it off. Of my… well I haven’t counted them recently. But the only machines I keep on constantly are this one (for quick accessing of e-mail, web pages, etc. which can happen at any hour), and the Linux box that’s being a router, server, etc.

Everything else, my gaming box, laptop, etc get shut when they’re not being used.

All things being equal (which they pretty much are), if you don’t mind the power use, and can’t stand waiting while your machine decides it has 256M of ram, you should leave it on. Else turn it off. :slight_smile:
Or if you like compromises, see what happens if you choose “Standby”

Ok, Ok, Ok…my honesty meter is flipping off the charts. A few days ago someone posted a link to a machine that was on some serious Steroids. See here . I got rather excited when looking at the specs, and I forwarded the Link to my Brother-in-Law, who has his masters in Computer science. He in turn called me back, live in my office, when he got the link and asked if the machine was real. I informed him that Yes it was quite real. I then proceeded to purchase the machine with my credit card. It comes in 7-10 business days…I need to know whether or not to leave it on 24/7 or not. Did you check out the exhaust pipes cooling the monster. I’m very excited!!!

Ok, now remeber two things. Your MONITOR is not really part of the computer. More or less, it is a TV screen (YMMV, laptops not so much). The monitor uses significant power- the computer usually does not. So, if you have a computer monitor that puts the monitor in “sleep or standby mode” (that is, the screen goes dark) then fine- you can leave both on for extended periods. Otherwise- turn the monitor off damn it! You can leave the computer on and the monitor off you know.

Now, as to the computer being on for extended periods- yes, turning it off & on is more damaging than leaving it off. But, you really don’t want to leave it on for a looooong time while not using it. According to my research on work computers - overnight is a break even. So when you go home for the night, it is 6 to one, halfdozen to the other. For the weekend and vacations- yes, power down. During the day or for lunch- leave it on.

Turn it off during periods of electrical storms. Or, if your area is experiencing brownout, etc, unless you have a power supply.

Remember- leaving your computer live and connected to the internet is a good way for someone to hack in. So, getting off your internet connection is a good thing if you will be away for a while. Of course, there are now many ways of connecting- dialup, etc, and they differ.

It’s really a personal choice. I vote turn it off depending on how many times you use your computer. At home my machines (5 computers) are normally off because, well, what’s the point? All my machines each do different things that aren’t being done all the time (I have one DVD burner, another CD burner, a Digital VHS computer, a laptop (mostly for in-car DVD playing) and my gaming box) sometimes these machines aren’t used for days.

On a side note HDs will have to “turn on” when they come out of “sleep” mode so it’s not like you’re sparing them the jarring from start-up. If you only use your computer a few hours a day, turn it off. One of my HDs have lasted me 8 years (a Conner 420 HD originally sold for $400!) while other drives (notable a IBM deskstar 75 gig for $500) have died in less than a year.

Phlosphr very nice machine. Congrats on the buy. Too bad it doesn’t come with that monitor (probably more than the computer in this case). I would say that you keep it on during the day if you’re going to use it even sparingly. When it’s time to go to sleep, turn it off. 8 hours saved “off” every day will help save a lot of moving parts.

Oh yeah, wanted to add, GET A VERY GOOD POWER BAR Phlosphr. I have 5 or 6 high end power bars with UPS backups everywhere. A must-have even if your area isn’t noted for storms (brown outs and just your run of the mill power spikes can hurt your PS and/or Mother board). UPS’s are cheap these days.