Power SwitchOne of the things that consistently amazes me is how questions seem to arrive in little clusters. There must be a “lemming like” subconscious force that triggers people to ask the same question at around the same time (or they all only caught half of the radio show on the way to work).

The question that has been asked this time “Is it better to turn off the computer when I finish with it or can I just keep it on all the time?

Now lets face it this debate has been going on for years, saving your computer hardware and saving energy being the biggies.

Way back In “the good old days” (just last millennium) the main reason for leaving the computer on was that turning it off every night and starting it up again in the morning caused major strain on the hard drive magnetic heads that read and write information inside the drive had to start up as well, and the power surge could damage these very delicate parts (actually the real reason is that it drove you crazy waiting for the PC to fire up of morning… it was so slow). These days, modern hard drives park their heads when the computer is turned off, and when you start back up the risk of a surge causing head damage is much much less than it used to be.

On the power side, There is a surge of electricity when the computer is turned on after being shut down, but this is tiny compared to what would be consumed if the machine was left on continuously ( I know this because I pay the electricity bills).

You obviously save electricity when you shut down the computer after you are done using it, potentially around $200 a year depending on your system. On the upside, turning your machine off at night also clears the “plaque” out of memory (all those weird little memory leaks) and gives it a fresh start in the morning, which may make it appear less sluggish if you generally have a lot of programs running over the course of the day.

Let’s not overlook leaving the computer on all the time can make it more vulnerable to nasties (viruses etc.)

If you are torn between leaving it on or shutting it down, consider a third option: setting the machine to hibernate or sleep for the night. The computer uses minimal power in this state, but starts much faster than if it was started up cold in the morning.

Might be worth thinking about.

For the record: Jools workstation stays on and my workstation goes of when I goto bed and reboots at 5:30am so that all the maintenance is done when I start at it in the morning.

Categories: Technology

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