What is the usual time for them to shut down? Any downside it them shutting down after, say, five hours?
What is the usual time for them to shut down? Any downside it them shutting down after, say, five hours?
Well I'm one of the people that think that shutting down HDs on a desktop PC is not good for them. They do take a lot more of power during spin-up time and put a physical an thermal stress on them. There's also increase in "startup count" in S.M.A.R.T. and prediction of failure is less accurate. Now in laptops it makes sense to shut them down when running on battery but when running on AC power same applies as on always on PCs. My desktops run 24/7 and nothing except monitors ever gets shut down except for maintenance and I never lost an HDD due to it's wearing out.
I have seen (and have one of them) a WD HDD that was mouted in a security camera recorder for 3 strait yaers withot shutting down at all. When I got it the Spinnup count was just 10 And health and performance were 100%. 3years without shutting down and no discernible wear.
Power savings are minimal too, it makes more sense to turn system off when not in use or at least set to hibernate, as a processor, even in throttled down mode uses much more power than HDD.
It's interesting to note that in the beta stages of W8 on my PC, when a file was copied to the SSD HD from the storage SSD HD by drag/dropping, it would get to the 99% stage instantly, then freeze for 20 seconds. So now it's down to 5 seconds. Actually sometimes for no apparent reason it will open instantly from both SSD and USB3 external HD. And that's what I meant when I said it isn't as stable as Win7. Other times it gives the error message one of the HDs in not recognized. Not a major thing but annoying.
Most modern solid state electronic components are very durable, but even so, have a finite life span.Originally Posted by CountMike
However, there are two problems which are prevented by turning desktop PCs off at the mains.
- Even though a PC is shut down, power is still flowing from the mains to the power box, which makes them vulnerable to power surges from electrical storms. Which is what happened to my PC when it was nuked, despite a surge protection power board. A modem connected to a land line also poses the same problem.
- The electronic components run on a small voltage, and this is achieved by a step down transformer in the power box in the PC. After switching off a PC, the capacitors in the power box still remain charged, which reduces their life span. And this is the most vulnerable point of break down. If they go, full mains current can flow through to the low voltage components of mobo, CPU, etc ... zapping the whole machine.
If after turning off the machine, you then turn off the mains power to it, and then press the start button ... you will see the lights come on and the fans spin for a few seconds, powered by the residual current in the capacitors. I always do this after turning off mains power to empty them.
Electronic devices left on stand by will wear out quicker, but I guess it's equally true that modern devices still have a comparatively long life, and with the exponential rate of development of computers, it will probably become obsolete before wearing out.
My son and I and third party friend all bought the same modem at roughly the same time. They left theirs on 24/7. I turned mine off from the mains, and my PC, which are all powered from the same board. My son's modem went shortly after a year. My friends lasted about a year and half. Mine is still going after 6 years.
In addition my son left his expensive Sony laptop on 24/7 with an adaptor to the mains, and the adaptor burnt out ... not a biggie. However, his mother did the same thing and was not so lucky. The on-board graphics on her Sony burnt out necessitating the replacement of the mobo and the cost was prohibitive.
My very first ever Win98 PC also still works ... sometimes I turn it on for nostalgic reasons ...
just to be mesmerized watching it defrag! lol!
Last edited by Mustang; 14 Jun 2013 at 01:19.
That's all true but there are a lot of compromises that have to be made to get things going to your satisfaction. Speed and power savings are on a bit of opposite sides. If you want a HDD to responds immediately, you can not make it shut down and than wake it up to do a little job and than all over again. It just puts more stress on it's mechanical and electronic parts and it's just better for it to run, nice and constant speed all the time. It gets waken up periodically by OS for maintenance and what not. Of course you can pack everything up in a nice dry place and it will last practically forever but that's not a point for having it in the first place. Actually even that is not exactly true. I pulled out an very old HDD that was sitting in a closet for few years and when I plugged it in, it took few tries just to spin up and start working. On the other hand, that WD750 GB green (known to be prone to fast wearing and prone to catastrophic failures when started) that I pulled out of security camera recording device after being on for at least 3 years, showed like new.
I know about the capacitors keeping their charge bit it doesn't mean it is working at that time, just the opposite, if it was in the circuit it would be discharged. Leaving desktop computer in stand by mode only gives you faster start up times and uses very little energy but the downside is that it leaves it prone to power surges etc. Only physically unplugging the power cord can save you from that, shutting it down usual way still leaves it vulnerable. Modern PSUs are surprisingly tough, I had a nearby lightning strike take out a modem, amplifier on the speaker and a landline phone but computer stayed running and unscathed. (thank you Chieftec )
AS you said the parts in the computer are good enough to stay running long time and baring "acts of God" or catastrophic failure will run out of their usefulness before braking down. I do have a few computers, crunching data all the time 24/7 and none had a failure due to parts wearing but noticed a long time ago that most of the failures are during the start or shutdown. If I had a penny for every time somebody told me that one day, they turned a perfectly good running computer off and next morning it just would not turn back on...... Actually, that is not completely true, I did make money for repairing them. They saved some money on electricity and I made some money, fair enough for me.
We could theorize about pros and con on both issues but in the end, it's only an issue of convenience and partly of safety.
When I leave for longer time I do unplug most of unneeded electrical stuff, but for normal use, everything that needs to run is left on.
You have missed the point I am making. If a PC is turned off electronically with the shut down command, but the mains current is still feeding into the power box, the capacitors remain in a charged state, even though the PC is not running.
It's precisely because they are left in the charged state that they eventually wear out and fail a lot quicker than if they were left in the discharged state while the PC is not in use. At least that is what I was taught when completing my degree in electronic engineering.
That is why when someone is in the habit of turning their PC off at night ... but leaving the mains power on ... and then turning the PC back on the next day ... eventually it fails to start because the capacitors have reached the critical burn out point. I know because I have replaced burnt out capacitors in power boxes and restored them. But that was when price was a much more relevant issue. Today I just replace them.
I'd rather wait 10 or 20 seconds longer for a PC to boot up, than risk burning out the capacitors and possibly nuking the whole machine ... or at least wrecking the power box.
I have replaced mega power boxes in PCs I have repaired for people, and never once in my own PCs. And invariably they all say the same thing. They never turn the machine off at the wall socket but only with the shut down button. I mentioned two examples of this in my own family members with my son's laptop power adaptor burning out, and my wife's on-board graphics failing. People don't seem to understand that solid state electronic components do not last indefinitely.
Last edited by Mustang; 14 Jun 2013 at 12:58.
Good point there, if you are switching computer off, might as well do it all the way, Most PSUs have a switch behind that cuts off one or both leads before the input circuit. Like thet only a really massive power hit could do some damage. Of course if something just insist to do you a damage not much can stop it. Couple of years ago, a lightning fireball run into a neighbor's basement, hit an axe leaning against a wall and turned it blue but didn't hit a computer in there, if it did, there would be some real mess it being on or off, disconnected or not.
My point is that I do leave my computers on all the time and didn't loose any PSU, ever. Of course everything gets upgraded every few years anyway. This Chieftec of mine, on my main computer, have seen quite a few MBs etc and is 5 years old but being only 450w will have to be changed soon and will go on the next computer down the line.
I have all my components ... PC, modem, printer, monitor, etc ... all plugged into the same surge protected power board. This can be isolated with a single open wire switch; which prevents current flow back to the PC through any ethernet cables, USB cables, etec.
However, as you say, if the power surge is large enough, it can jump open switches if the contacts are not far enough apart. The ultimate safety is to pull the power plug out of the mains socket at the wall.
However for practical purposes I just isolate the power board, which has the phone line going through it, with an open wire switch.
I guess it comes down to each individual's situation and preferences. If money is no object and someone is going to upgrade their equipment every few years, wear on the power box may not be a relevant issue. The real danger though is if the capacitor failure allows full mains voltage to flow through the PC components destroying everything. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem if money and time are not issues, and they have their data backed up to external media.
I have one person whose PC still has XP on it and I have serviced it for her for the past 8 years. She used to leave the power on from the mains 24/7 and eventually the power box stopped working after about 3 years. I replaced the power box, and since then she has switched it off at the wall when not in use; and the power box is still going strong. The only other component I needed to replace recently was the graphic card. The fan on it had become clogged with dust and caused the card to burn out through over heating. Simple fix.
This machine has survived 8 years of two daughters going from start to finish of their teenage years with concomitant web surfing, face book, etec, etec. And that's no mean feat.
That's really some tough machine surviving 2 teenagers, those give me more work than anybody else. "Well kids were just playing with it and it went poof" is usual comment. Cant explain to them that those "just games" give computer more of the workout than running 10 office applications at once. Also the comments like "Do not need any strong computer, just for kiddies to play games" lol.
Good call. You really nailed it re pressure put on PC with games. Made me lol with: "It went poof!" and "Do not need any strong computer, just for kiddies to play games."
Truth is I've given up trying to educate, I just fix 'em. I do leave them with a maintenance sheet of regular tasks to keep the PC running smooth, but honestly, when I go back 95% of the time they haven't done them ... or done them when it's too late and the damage is done.
Another big problem cause is finding the heat sink over the CPU caked with a solid layer of compacted dust about 2 or 3 mm thick ... and they wonder why the thing keeps over heating and stopping ... or worse still has burnt out.
On the other hand I do feel sympathy for persons who have not had any previous experience with PCs. Even to use the help menus you need some sort of background training program to know what they mean ... I was totally baffled by them when I got my first PC. I remember typing a word document and hitting a wrong button and suddenly the text was 2 inches to the right ... and I had no idea what I had done. I rang a friend of my son who was a computer science graduate and even he couldn't work out what I'd done over the phone. Turned out to be I'd indented the text to the right. On the other hand I usually try and bullock my way through stuff and only read the operating manual when all else has failed! And sometimes that has dire consequences.
Anyway, nice chatting CountMike