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22:14 Wed 23 Nov 2005

Turning computers off

Filed under: Tech — 22:14 Wed 23 Nov 05

I must have hit a stream of blogs / posts / articles tonight about turning computers off.
I generally turn my computers off. I do this for an incredibly simple reason: I’m not using it. Yet I read of people boasting that because they use some flavour of Linux or a Mac that they can leave their machines on for days. Weeks. Longer. Windows users do not indulge in this fetish.
Because you can ? that’s a stupid answer.
Because it’s not Windows ? that’s a stupid answer.
There is simply no point to leave a machine on is there ? Possibly overnight I could understand but weeks ?
What possible convincing argument is there ? Enlighten me.


  1. I thought I was alone! I’ve never understood the point about bragging about uptime.

    The only time it makes sense is in the server market. There Linux rules supreme, and that is where most of these comments come from really, or at least started. Mac is built upon FreeBSD, so there’s that geeky link.

    But yes, for desktop use… who cares? I mean maybe it says something about the underlying architecture of the OS… but is it that significant? I doubt it is.

    Comment by Gregory — 22:19 Wed 23 Nov 2005 @ 22:19 Wed 23 Nov 05

  2. Many Windows applications suffer memory leaks, whereby your free memory is slowly exhausted over time. You’re (generally) forced to reboot to resolve this. GNU/Linux and Mac don’t suffer from this problem quite as frequently (though they’re certainly not immune), so saying that you leave your system on “because you can” is a statement of the superiority of your operating system.

    I leave my system on for days at a time for two simple reaons:
    1) as with most things electronic, the computer (or its associated parts) is most likely to blow up when you turn it on and it gets that surge of electicity. Just like a lightbulb that expires when you turn it on. Granted, this isn’t tremendously likely, but it’s not entirely unlikely.
    2) Hard drives are built to spin. I’m paranoid that by stopping the spin, I’m shortening the life of the drive. ;)

    Comment by skippy — 22:40 Wed 23 Nov 2005 @ 22:40 Wed 23 Nov 05

  3. Skippy – I don’t want to get into an OS battle here :)
    Leave on = increased wear on (moving) components though ?

    Comment by Mark — 23:25 Wed 23 Nov 2005 @ 23:25 Wed 23 Nov 05

  4. Mark: I wasn’t trying to engage in an OS battle; I was merely trying to explain one motivation.

    As for wear and tear, yes, of course leaving the drive spinning will wear it down over time. But hard drives are built to spin. They’re designed to spin non-stop for extremely long periods of time.

    Comment by skippy — 00:24 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 00:24 Thu 24 Nov 05

  5. skippy – I know :)

    I do just find it weird though and on the whole it seems not to be a damage reduction thing (though I do take on board what you say and agree) but just laziness for the majority. Like leaving the TV on standby. And that just eats resources when magnified by the number of users. And there is an element of “mine’s been up longer than yours” in there too. It’s almost like many people do it just because many others do it.

    Comment by Mark — 00:34 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 00:34 Thu 24 Nov 05

  6. Not much to add to skippy’s explanation. Just a confirmation: subjecting electronic hardware to sudden surges of electricity does shorten its life (switch effect), on top of the non-neglictible odds of simply blowing it up when doing so.

    Keeping your hardware on (with proper sleep settings, of course) has always been advocated by computer makers and “specialists” alike, since either way the energy consumption isn’t noticeably different. I doubt this applies to disk spinning, especially considering most computers will always spin-down/stop completely the HD in case it is not been used…

    Comment by dr Dave — 01:58 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 01:58 Thu 24 Nov 05

  7. I have winders and I leave my computer on unless I’m going to be away from it for more than 10 hours.

    My reason, simple… takes a while to reboot :)

    Comment by Jennifer — 02:16 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 02:16 Thu 24 Nov 05

  8. I don’t leave Windows on, cause I see that by leaving it on for more than 3~4 hours, the performance after the wake plummets.
    I’ve tried testing this on a mac, and it’s condition is better after the wake up.

    Still, I usually shut down my computer for two simple reasons. Saving electricity, and because I ain’t using it. :smile:

    Comment by Indranil — 03:13 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 03:13 Thu 24 Nov 05

  9. I only restart my computer. (that is, my ibook). My windows desktop that I use for about 2 hours every day (usually less) I keep off unless I’m using it because it’s like a damn heater. If it wasn’t so hot, I’d leave it on too.

    The only time I shut my iBook off is to restart it, like if I’m installing something that requires it such as an update, or whatever.

    Comment by Cameron aka desk003 — 04:12 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 04:12 Thu 24 Nov 05

  10. At home there’s no reason to leave it on overnight (it’s a waste of electricity if nothing else) but at work we need them on overnight to push out updates and patches.

    Comment by Claire — 10:04 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 10:04 Thu 24 Nov 05

  11. I leave my computer (Powerbook / OS X) on for weeks at a time because it means that no matter what time, day or night, I can work on it.

    Comment by james — 10:21 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 10:21 Thu 24 Nov 05

  12. Instead of booting up a dozen apps in the morning, they are there as I left them :) There’s probably a distinction you missed as well. Some people (me included) use their PCs/Macs in a server mode so they need to be up and running for oodles of reasons.

    Comment by gpshewan — 10:24 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 10:24 Thu 24 Nov 05

  13. I’m lazy. As gpshewan said, the time it takes to boot up and open Mail, NetNewsWire, and FF isn’t extreme, but hey, I’ve found nothing hurt in 5 years by doing it (leaving it on), so I do. Plus, when I’m sitting there on the couch watching a movie, and can’t remember what other movie an actor was in, I can quickly grab the laptop and in a flash have open and solve my questions…:cool:

    Comment by miklb — 20:15 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 20:15 Thu 24 Nov 05

  14. Hmmmm …… I’m not convinced overall….

    Comment by Mark — 21:11 Thu 24 Nov 2005 @ 21:11 Thu 24 Nov 05

  15. I leave my computer on because I download a lot of stuff and I like them to be ready when I use the computer the next morning. :)

    Comment by Memo — 00:53 Fri 25 Nov 2005 @ 00:53 Fri 25 Nov 05

  16. Mine gets left on because 99% of the time there is some .torrent or other downloading. I only turn it off if Im going to be out of the house for a couple of days.

    Comment by -slh- — 17:30 Fri 25 Nov 2005 @ 17:30 Fri 25 Nov 05

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