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Turn the PC off or leave it on?

I get quite a few questions about whether to leave the PC on or turn it off at the end of each day. There are many views on this subject and most all of them have valid points. Some believe that leaving a computer on will wear out components much faster while others believe that shutting a computer down each day does more harm.

The two main reasons that people are concerned about this issue are:
  • Energy Conservation
  • Component Longevity

Energy Conservation:

Operating a PC these days costs very little money (depending on electricity costs in your area). I would say an average amount would be about $1 per day. That is if you leave your monitor on too. Taking into account that most people do not leave their system running 24/7 365 days a year. People usually shut down on the weekends when away from the office or when they go on vacation. So, let's just say that your energy cost for a one year period will be somewhere around $120.00. If you adjust your PC settings to have the monitor turn off after being idle for 10 minutes, this figure can be greatly reduced. As you can see, the energy cost is probably not worth worrying about. So, lets move on to the meat of the matter and discuss Component Longevity.

Component Longevity:

Computers are designed to operate at consistent temperatures and have components in place just for this purpose.

Cooling Fans- While the system is turned on, the cooling fans will continue to keep the computers case cool keeping all of the other components within the case operating at a consistent temperature. It is very possible that by keeping your computer turned on you could be shortening the life of a cooling fan. But, is it really worth worrying about? Let's continue...

If you keep your computer case cleaned out every six months while paying close attention to your cooling fans, you will greatly improve the cooling fans longevity while maintaining their cooling performance.

The cost of a cooling fan and the time to replace one makes it really a non-issue where this discussion is concerned.

Hard Drive- This is the main concern when discussing shutting your PC down or not. A hard drive, when turned on, will experience a surge of electricity that will spin its platter to a speed of approximately 10,000 rpm. It will then begin to warm up and reach an optimum operating temperature. Then the cooling fans will keep it at that temperature.

Once you turn the system off, the platter spins down and the hard drive then cools to room temperature. Depending on the environment, these temperature swings along with the voltage surges when powering on can greatly reduce the life of your hard drive when shutting the system down regularly.

Lastly, the amount of time that you keep a computer system will be the determining factor when considering whether to shut it down on a regular basis or not. If you are one that keeps a system for about 2 years and then gets one with newer technology, then this is not going to be a factor for you at all. Do with it what you will. It is probably going to be under warranty for this time period anyhow.

But, if you keep your computer system longer and care about component longevity, then my recommendation to you is go ahead and leave your system running 24 hours. If you are away from it for a day or more, then go ahead and shut it down.

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