Question When should I power off my computer?

jamesdsimone

Senior member
Dec 21, 2015
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There isn't a general computing forum so posting this here. I've read that powering a computer on and off causes more wear than leaving it on. Is this true and if I have a computer that is idle for days at a time should I power that off?
 

Markfw

Moderator Emeritus, Elite Member
May 16, 2002
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There isn't a general computing forum so posting this here. I've read that powering a computer on and off causes more wear than leaving it on. Is this true and if I have a computer that is idle for days at a time should I power that off?
Modern computers use much less power, especially if you are using a SSD or a NVME hard drive. Mine have been powered on for years. They go obsolete before I have to replace them, so I say leave it on.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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I believe that one should keep their PC running 24/7, mining or running DC tasks, so don't look at me for advice on when to "shut it down". Maybe during severe thunderstorms?
 

Tech Junky

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2022
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When you power cycle a PC there's a surge of power to the components. Eventually this will wear out things over time but, it's not going to kill your PC in a short period of time. If you think about a business with 100's of PC's and they get powered down nightly they don't stop working in a short period of time. Generally it's up to a decade before seeing a failure at this point. The most wear/tear is usually the HDD / spinner because of the moving parts. Maybe fans.

In an idle state though it shouldn't be pulling much power from the wall if all the apps are closed. I run my server 24/7 and most of the time it's close to idle and it doesn't use much power in that state. It has an 850W PSU in it but, at max it's not using 50% of that. When I stress the CPU that's only 125W + other stuff inside the case might add another 75W to the calculation. So, max it might pull 200W +/- whatever the misc parts might pull.

Now, if it's a laptop that's a different story. My laptop pulls ~60W while on and doing typical stuff. When I launch a game or something that triggers the GPU to engage then it can ramp up to 180W This matters when traveling though because I can power it off USB with a trigger cable using a power bank or CLA in the car.
 

Markfw

Moderator Emeritus, Elite Member
May 16, 2002
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When you power cycle a PC there's a surge of power to the components. Eventually this will wear out things over time but, it's not going to kill your PC in a short period of time. If you think about a business with 100's of PC's and they get powered down nightly they don't stop working in a short period of time. Generally it's up to a decade before seeing a failure at this point. The most wear/tear is usually the HDD / spinner because of the moving parts. Maybe fans.

In an idle state though it shouldn't be pulling much power from the wall if all the apps are closed. I run my server 24/7 and most of the time it's close to idle and it doesn't use much power in that state. It has an 850W PSU in it but, at max it's not using 50% of that. When I stress the CPU that's only 125W + other stuff inside the case might add another 75W to the calculation. So, max it might pull 200W +/- whatever the misc parts might pull.

Now, if it's a laptop that's a different story. My laptop pulls ~60W while on and doing typical stuff. When I launch a game or something that triggers the GPU to engage then it can ramp up to 180W This matters when traveling though because I can power it off USB with a trigger cable using a power bank or CLA in the car.
Note I said SSD, I have no spinners running in this house. Yes, those die, but SDDs ??? No failures yet, but many spinners have died.
 
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fkoehler

Member
Feb 29, 2008
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Unless you have a pressing need to have it on 24/7, its the same as leaving a 40-50w lightbulb on for 10/12/14 hours a day.
Figure out what that costs you per year at your current electrical rate.
Once you figure in actual watts being used, plus the additional watts wasted running your PSU at very low power (high inefficiency), its rather profligate. $25-50/year ain't much, but multiply by millions of systems or more....
And this is coming from a non-tree hugger at that.
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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Nuh-oh. ALWAYS UNPLUG from the wall when upgrading / repairing.
Yeah, this is probably the best general advice, and it should be followed if there is any question or inability to test outlets for proper wiring.

Speaking for myself, I often leave the cord plugged in for minor upgrades/servicing because I know my outlets are properly wired and that all my PSUs have off switches. So for me, having a connected ground outweighs the danger of a partially energized circuit inside the PSU.

This goes against every safety regulation out there, I am sure, and no one should listen to me unless they like some danger.
 

bba-tcg

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Apr 8, 2010
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Nuh-oh. ALWAYS UNPLUG from the wall when upgrading / repairing.
When you unplug it, you also unplug the path to ground. I've been doing it this way since 1980 and will always recommend the same. If the switch on the power supply is in the "0" position, the power is off. The exceptions, for me, would be if I was working inside the power supply unit (changing a fan, etc.) or if there's no switch on the supply.

But, I digress. The statement was a tongue-in-cheek statement that I don't believe in turning machines off unless there's a compelling reason.
 
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bba-tcg

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Yeah, this is probably the best general advice, and it should be followed if there is any question or inability to test outlets for proper wiring.

Speaking for myself, I often leave the cord plugged in for minor upgrades/servicing because I know my outlets are properly wired and that all my PSUs have off switches. So for me, having a connected ground outweighs the danger of a partially energized circuit inside the PSU.

This goes against every safety regulation out there, I am sure, and no one should listen to me unless they like some danger.
If your circuit is so messed up that leaving it plugged in with the switch off will cause an issue, you have some fairly serious wiring problems that should manifest when you plug the machine in, much less when you power it up.
 

Ajay

Lifer
Jan 8, 2001
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When you unplug it, you also unplug the path to ground. I've been doing it this way since 1980 and will always recommend the same. If the switch on the power supply is in the "0" position, the power is off. The exceptions, for me, would be if I was working inside the power supply unit (changing a fan, etc.) or if there's no switch on the supply.

But, I digress. The statement was a tongue-in-cheek statement that I don't believe in turning machines off unless there's a compelling reason.
Same here. I do have my home computer set to hibernate at 11pm every night. I don't do DC anymore and I save a bit on the electric bill.
 

crashtech

Lifer
Jan 4, 2013
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If your circuit is so messed up that leaving it plugged in with the switch off will cause an issue, you have some fairly serious wiring problems that should manifest when you plug the machine in, much less when you power it up.
It would be hasty to make such an assumption. For example, the ground circuit could be open and there would be no obvious problem, yet in that situation there would be no reason at all to leave the cord plugged in, and the danger of doing so while handling the machine is increased.
 

bba-tcg

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Apr 8, 2010
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It would be hasty to make such an assumption. For example, the ground circuit could be open and there would be no obvious problem, yet in that situation there would be no reason at all to leave the cord plugged in, and the danger of doing so while handling the machine is increased.
In that case, it would, in effect, be unplugged. Which is what at least one is advocating for.
 

kschendel

Senior member
Aug 1, 2018
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Unless you have a pressing need to have it on 24/7, its the same as leaving a 40-50w lightbulb on for 10/12/14 hours a day.

That seems excessive. I have three computers sleeping on the UPS at the moment and it's reporting 5-6 watts. One is a Mac and two are linux boxes, don't know if that makes a difference. (I have no Windows units to compare to.)

I leave mine on 24/7 unless I'm going to be away from home for more then a couple days. I see no reason to turn them off and on. The back basement cluster sometimes goes idle for a week or so at a time, and I usually just let them sleep.
 

Chaotic42

Lifer
Jun 15, 2001
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I leave my linux systems running for weeks, but I usually shut down my Windows system when I'm done with it, especially in the summer. Windows is definitely better than it used to be about staying on for extended periods of time, but it still gets squirrely some times. One drawback to this is that Windows wants me to "finish setting up" my years old installation (ie link an MS account to it). Not looking forward to Windows 11 when I eventually have to make the move.

The only part I've lost recently was a Threadripper 1000-era motherboard. I powered it off and it just wouldn't come back on. Other than that, it's been quite a long time, so I'd suggest doing what really fits your needs best. Definitely make sure you have some sort of UPS and surge protection.
 

james1701

Golden Member
Sep 14, 2007
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One thing I just recently learned from an upgrade with RGB memory, the memory sticks is still powered up during sleep. This kept the RGB's lit even while asleep. I had to start using hibernate to shut down the RGB lights on the memory at night. I am curious though, will the extra writes daily going into hibernate cause a lot more wear on the M.2 drive.
 

bba-tcg

Senior member
Apr 8, 2010
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I leave my linux systems running for weeks, but I usually shut down my Windows system when I'm done with it, especially in the summer. Windows is definitely better than it used to be about staying on for extended periods of time, but it still gets squirrely some times. One drawback to this is that Windows wants me to "finish setting up" my years old installation (ie link an MS account to it). Not looking forward to Windows 11 when I eventually have to make the move.

The only part I've lost recently was a Threadripper 1000-era motherboard. I powered it off and it just wouldn't come back on. Other than that, it's been quite a long time, so I'd suggest doing what really fits your needs best. Definitely make sure you have some sort of UPS and surge protection.
Uncheck these boxes and it'll stop doing that.2022-12-23.png
 
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aigomorla

CPU, Cases&Cooling Mod PC Gaming Mod Elite Member
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Sep 28, 2005
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I had to start using hibernate to shut down the RGB lights on the memory at night. I am curious though, will the extra writes daily going into hibernate cause a lot more wear on the M.2 drive.

Well LED's die over time... its called wear and tear.
Feed a LED enough current, and it will wear out, however they are rated to last longer then you will probably hold onto those ram sticks even if you left it on 24/7.

Id be more worried about transient power spikes on the LED when your system is shut off, and it has to turn the LED's on.
LED's work on a principle of PWM for intensity.... meaning the dimmer the LED, the longer PWM cycle is, so it looks dimmer, but in actuality, its lumens are held constant.

As for the nVME, well, unless your CHIA mining, i really have yet to see something go though all the write cycles on a nVME that isn't some chinese branded one before you realize you bought too small one, and your forced to upgrade to a larger capacity.

And are SSD's and nVME tanks... no...
I have lost a few SSD's. 1 Crucial, 1 Corsair, Too many to count OCZ before they got bought out from Toshiba, and even a Samsung.

I have yet to lose a nVME, but i am currently hammering a 960 PRO as a PLEX transcode drive, so well, i'll let you know when that dies.
 
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mikeymikec

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May 19, 2011
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There's also MTBF to consider. Leaving stuff running unnecessarily also constitutes wear and tear on components.

@jamesdsimone when you say 'idle for days at a time', does it go into sleep mode after a reasonable length of time (I typically set desktops to 45 minutes)? If so, most of the computer isn't running during sleep mode, and its power usage isn't far off being turned off. I'd say sleep mode is absolutely fine.
 

jamesdsimone

Senior member
Dec 21, 2015
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There's also MTBF to consider. Leaving stuff running unnecessarily also constitutes wear and tear on components.

@jamesdsimone when you say 'idle for days at a time', does it go into sleep mode after a reasonable length of time (I typically set desktops to 45 minutes)? If so, most of the computer isn't running during sleep mode, and its power usage isn't far off being turned off. I'd say sleep mode is absolutely fine.

My main computer goes into sleep mode so I usually don't power it off. I have a server that I might not access for several days at a time sometimes a week. I have it set so the hard drives go into standby mode after 3 hours of inactivity. Xigmanas reports 0% CPU activity but the fans don't shut down.
 

Mopetar

Diamond Member
Jan 31, 2011
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You should power it down (and unplug it or better yet, leave it plugged in and make sure the power supply switch is in the off position) before upgrading parts.

This is why I prefer running big iron even at home. Pretty much everything is hot swappable and as long as your backup generator is working you should never have any downtime.

The service contracts are a bit pricy, but it's if you ever need to get someone on the phone it's actually someone named Steve and he'll have someone over with the parts later that day.

Still runs all my old COBOL apps great as well.