Turning computers off

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.

16 thoughts on “Turning computers off

  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.

  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. 😉

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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…

  6. 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. 🙂

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 IMDB.com open and solve my questions…:cool:

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