Monday, September 19, 2005

Computer troubles

One thing that I didn't mention to DV$ during the PC troubles was regarding the leaving it on versus leaving it off problem. I mostly didn't mention it because it wouldn't have helped the situation.

Anyway, I am in the "turn it off at night" camp. I believe this for the following reasons (provided the role you have your computer serving doesn't require it to run 24x7):

1) It costs money to leave a computer running. The newer the computer, the more it costs. These new Pentium 4s burn a lot of juice.

2a) There are mechanical parts in the computer, and the more you use them, the more they wear. Fans, hard drive, CDROMs for example. Some of these things fail more spectacularly than others, but they all lead to shelling out cash. These generally are not things that wear out during a warranty.

2b) Those fans drag in dust and dirt. 24 hours is a lot more than the couple hours in the morning and a few hours in the evening. The newer the computer, the more a dust buildup can cause problems.

3) Windows benefits from regular shutdown/reboot cycles. If you must leave the thing running, when you walk away from it for the night, give it a shutdown/restart rather than logging off.

3b) The computer is not exposed to certain worms and virii when it's off. Most come in the classic form, the user running a program or clicking a link they shouldn't, but some do come in via security holes in the internet connection. They may also be a combination of the two- some viruses set up your PC as a "zombie machine". It doesn't do anything or harm your files, you don't even notice it if the virus checker doesn't catch it, but then the hacker/small businessman/rogue government agent can send a command to all the machines to start spamming or DDoSing microsoft.com or something. If your PC isn't on, it won't do it. This is a minor, and mostly preventable issue, but I just wanted to show off.

The arguments for leaving a PC on:

1) "It'll wear out the power switch." No it won't. And even if it does, it would be cheaper to repair than almost anything else on the computer. Sort of like using the clutch to stop the car to save wear on the brakes. Who cares if a $100 set of brakes lasts twice as long if the $1500 clutch lasts half as long?

2) "The heating up and cooling off of the componants breaks them." Probably not. If that does happen, the componant was faulty to begin with. I've never seen it. Anyway, the processor heats up and cools off all day long, depending on how heavily it is being used. The other componants don't generate enough heat for this to be an issue.

2b) "Spinning the hard drive up wears it out faster than leaving it on." It is true that spinning up the drive is harder on a drive than running is. But what do you think happens when you walk up to that computer that's been in sleep mode? The hard drive spins back up. How many times per day? Unless you are sitting at the PC working all day, it has to be more than the once or twice a day I prescribe here.

2bb) (I've seen more hard drives fail because they were spinning up and down all day due to ill-advised or careless power saving settings. PC hard drives are not made to be spun up and down constantly like a laptop drive is. If you're using a desktop PC, turn it off when you're not using it, and turn off that power saving "feature".)

3) "It takes too long to start up." I bet you if you turned the PC on and then went to make the coffee or have your morning constitutional, it will be sitting there waiting for you when you return to it. Also, learn to maintain your PC's operating system.

There's no reason (unless there is one) to leave your computer on while you sleep or are off working. That's my point. I invite discussion.

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