Shutdown PC or not?

Posted on 2006-05-19
Last Modified: 2010-04-25
I have approx 25 W2K workstations on the network. I have always thought it was best to leave PC's on permenantly 24/7. Out of hour administration takes place during the night. I was under the impression that powering off PC's and then booting up daily reduced the life time of the hardware. Is this correct?
We currently get approx 3-4yrs life span out of our workstations. Would be interested to know what your opinions are.

Thanks, Mike
Question by:micbbc
    LVL 95

    Accepted Solution

    The "power surges" on the electronics can reduce their overall lifetime.  But I know people turn off PCs when not in use and they last for years.  Consider the costs as well - if your typical employee uses the computer for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, then that's 128 hours a week that the computer is ON but GENERALLY not in use.  In my area, electricity is nearly $0.20 per kilowatt hour.  With a typical PC using about 120-150 watts per hour, that amounts to $3.07 or more per PC per week of EXCESS costs for electric use.  25 PCs @ 3.07 per means 76.75 per week in excess electrical costs, which works out to about $333 per month, or $4,000 per year.  Over 4 years, $16,000.  With the average cost of a workstation at $600-$800 (let's say $700), that's the cost of 23 workstations over 4 years.  Go figure - if you turn them off at night, you can replace them all at the end of four years for nearly nothing (compared to if you let them run 24x7.

    Now you said out of hour administration takes place at night.  You might want to look into scripting things and using Wake-on-LAN applications.  This way, you can script a wakeup call to all computers when you need to administer them and then script them powering off.

    Obviously, if your electric rates are less, then this becomes less of an issue, but even at half the price, that's still $8000 over 4 years and $2000 per year.  Given the cost of electricity nowadays, I would tend recommend shutting down the PCs - certainly enabling power saving features such as suspend and hibernation.

    Author Comment

    Leew, thanks for your comments, very logical.
    LVL 87

    Expert Comment

    It also depends on the parts used in those PC's. Often consumer type HD's aren't built to run 24/7, and by keeping these running you will get a lower life-cycle out of them. Most standard PC's only use consumer type HD's for cost reasons. Servers normally use disks that are meant to run 24/7, but these are normally more expensive, make and more noise, have lower capacity and usually are SCSI disks, all that makes them not ideal to run on a standard PC. Of course there are HD's built for PC's that are quite OK to run 24/7, but you should check for such specs on the manufacturer's homepage. These types of disks will normally last longer if not turned off all the time. Most other parts in a PC aren't as sensitive to 24/7 running. Be sure to regularly clean out the dust and check the fans on these PC's, as they will attract more dust, blocking the airflow and causing the PC to overheat.
    LVL 91

    Expert Comment

    i agree with all of the above; just want to add this :
    even if it is true that the poweroff/on cycle can reduce the MTBF of a PC, i think it was more of a problem years ago, when all the hardware was more of a "new development" thing, with its childs diseases. I have my customers turn off all computers every day, and i must say the last 4-5 years there are next to none problems with it, wile there were some before.
    Most of the earlier problems were caused by heat crimping and expanding, which seems now to be much better controlled.
    LVL 5

    Expert Comment

    I will suggest that you put just the monitors off even if you will leave the system running cos they generate quite an amount of heat except of course if you are not using a CRT Monitor.

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