Leaving Computer/Monitor On

I know this has come up before, but what ended up being the deal with leaving your computer and/or monitor on? My new monitor goes into sleep mode with the screen dark anyway. Is it drawing much power? And how important is it to power off my PC every night? Does starting it up and shutting it down constantly wear it out more than just leaving it on? What’s the equivalent wattage use? (I have Windows Me on my desktop wirelessly networked to a laptop with Windows XP.) Thx

You have Windows Me? OK, here’s a fix for that. Unplug your PC, take it to a window, open the window, throw it out the window. Problem solved.

There are two schools of thought on this …

In sleep mode, the computer is only drawing a trickle of power. As to whether you need to turn it off or not, there are arguments on both sides, but no conclusions. It probably doesn’t matter all that much one way or another.

Turning the stuff off (using a switched power strip) will save on your electric bill. How much depends on your particular hardware and the price of a kilowatt of electricity in your area.

If you want to save money (and maybe do a little bit of good for the environment,) turn stuff off when you aren’t using it.

If you have some need for the computer to be usable in a couple of seconds after you sit down in front of it, leave it on standyby.

That’s pretty much what other threads on this subject have come down to.

I agree with this. Also, Windows ME in my experience doesn’t come out of standby/hibernation all the time so I wouldn’t rely on it (save your work).

I know there are people who talk about “turning off/on computers is hard on the hardware” but face it, most computers only last 3-5 years anyways (and that’s pushing it) so the argument is pretty moot. I always turn off my systems and have never had a problem.

We justify any added expense there may be by setting our screen saver to a picture slideshow, which displays all pictures on my harddrive in a random order. We have almost all of our family pictures scanned in and it’s like a walk down memory lane :slight_smile:

I like to compare it to the theory of the lightbulb. In my experience, I’ve never seen one “blow” while I’m sitting near it reading a book with it on.

I have however, blown hundreds of them out turning them on or off.

Electronics, filaments, all the same theory in my book. Any “change of state” causes a surge. Surges are bad.

The monitor, I set to turn off after 2 hours of inactivity, the PC I leave on full blast.

My $.03 (inflation)

Thanks to all

And don’t think I haven’t considered the throwing the Windows Me PC out the window option :slight_smile:

There are a lot of things that go into the long term reliability of electronics. For a PC, the biggest things are heat, thermal cycling, friction, and what it’s attached to.

Heat: If your CPU runs hot (over 45 deg C), which a lot of them do these days, it will likely die an early death if it’s left on all the time. The same is true for all chips in the system. It used to be that the CPU was the only big heat offender, but these days graphics chips and interface chips (like to fast drives) can also get rather warm.

Thermal Cycling: A PC is made up of a lot of different materials, and they all expand and contract at different rates. If you take a drinking glass out of the dishwasher still hot, and run it under cold water, it will shatter just because of the different rates of cooling. The same thing happens with PC components. The itty bitty wires inside the chips will often lift up off of their pads, rendering the chip useless. If there are poor solder joints on the circuit boards, thermal stresses will make them connect poorly sooner.

Friction: Anything that moves (like fans or disk drives) wears out the more is moves. Loss of a fan is usually a critical failure in PCs these days.

What it’s attached to: The main killer here is the power line. The more it’s plugged in, the more likely that a power glitch or lightning strike will kill it.

As you can see, some of these effects are worse if you leave the PC on all the time, and some are worse (especially the thermal cycling) if you turn it on and off. Which way is worse for your PC depends a lot on the way it was designed and how the power is in your area. I personally have lost more computers to bad power than anything else. YMMV.

Guess what I’m going to be doing all weekend? :smiley:

I have a UPS which stabilizes the power as well as keeping a steady supply of power to my PC. Every night, I shut down the Internet connection and then turn off the monitor. PC just keeps on running all night. My PC is 9 years old.

Just to look at another angle altogether…

If you have broadband Internet (DSL or cable), leaving your computer on can increase your chances of getting hacked. (So I’m told.)

Also, because the typical DSL service gives you a different IP address each time, you’re a little more protected than with typical cable (fixed IP address). So leaving your system on with DSL can really make things worse (you keep the same IP address longer).

So if you want to leave your system on, be sure to turn off or physically disconnect your cable modem.

(Or all that melodrama I read about hackers is wrong…)


I’ve heard the same thing, and I personally noticed a huge increase in hacking attempts when I switched from dial-up to cable.