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Leave the System On or Turn it Off? (Thermal Stress vs. Wearout)
One of the endless debates in the computer world, along with such controversies as the use of parity memory or the choice of IDE vs. SCSI, is the question of whether or not, and for how long, a PC should be left running when it is not in use. This section takes a look at this matter and explains the issues so you can decide what is sensible for you and make a decision on your policy for your equipment.
The basic question is: you have a PC on your desk at the office. You use it all day. When you go home for the night, should you turn off the PC or leave it running? This is not a simple question to answer because there are so many different factors involved in the decision in most cases. And the decision also depends on the type of PC: a high-end server is more likely to be left on 24 hours a day than a PC used twice a week at home:
You need to decide for yourself what decisions you want to make about your PCs. My personal stance on the matter has changed over time based on my computing habits and as I have learned more. I now have a basic policy of turning off the PC if I feel that I will not be using it in the next 24 hours. At work, I leave my PC on overnight during the week, but I turn it off over the weekend or when I am out of the office. At home, I usually leave my PC on all the time; I use it every evening and during the day on weekends, I run backups overnight, and I have automatic maintenance tasks that run during the day on weekdays. Remember that I live in New England; if I lived in South Florida and had no UPS, I might reconsider this policy due to the electrical storm activity, for example.
For me, this makes sense, and I acknowledge the tradeoffs I make in doing this. I greatly reduce the thermal stress on my main system and hard disks, but I increase the chance of wearout of these components. I keep the monitor off for safety and to prevent wearout. I also realize that I am spending some money on electricity to keep the system going all the time but it is worth it to me to do this.
Warning: There is one
thing I feel rather strongly about in this matter--monitors should be turned off at night,
both to prolong the life of the equipment and for safety reasons as well. This subject is discussed in more detail in the care section