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This answer to a question on computer power use suggests that computers last longer when they are not frequently shut down. The answer is from 2014, and I do remember hearing this advice in the past. I'm wondering if this is true today.

Is it "better" (in any way) to leave a computer in low power mode all the time?

Imagine a typical office scenario, with a desktop computer, used for up to eight hours every day, five days a week.

The exact definition of "better" could vary, including such factors as:

  • Total energy usage
  • Maintenance costs
  • Lifetime of the equipment

For example, if leaving the computer on all the time uses more energy, but doubles the life-span, this would likely be better from a sustainability standpoint.

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  • Interesting answers to both questions. One thing that gets mentioned is replacement of components, such as hard disk drives (HDD). Whether or not computer components, such as HDDs need to be replaced can depend on usage & power up & power down cycles, but it can also be due to the quality of manufacture of the components. I have two laptops, made by the same manufacturer, one was made 11 years ago, the other 8. The only thing that died on the older one was the battery. The younger one has had the HDD replaced at least once. Both have been switched on & off repeatedly & used similar amounts.
    – Fred
    Oct 8 '19 at 1:48
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It undoubtedly uses more energy to leave a computer on than to turn it off. A PC will draw a few hundred Watts when on, compared to a few Watts powered down but plugged in.

The biggest hardware failure issue (and the one in the accepted answer to the linked question) tends to be hard drives, potentially leading to data loss as well as the need for hardware replacement. This is much more of an issue with spinning-disc hard drives than solid state drives. Even then an HDD would be unlikely to fail during the typical lifetime of a PC, so it's more of an issue for big server systems with many (heavily-used) drives. Desktops and all but the smallest laptops have replaceable hard drives, so you wouldn't need to replace the whole PC.

Other components shouldn't have likely failure modes from power-cycling, though it's not completely unknown for desktop power supplies to die after a few years and they tend to demonstrate this by failing to start (but that still doesn't mean frequent restarting causes the failure).

So theory would suggest you're always better turning it off. Turning off can also remove some chances for accidental damage.

In practice: I've had desktop PCs of my own for a little over 20 years, and work-issue desktops for almost as long. Unless banned by the employer or using the machine for a long task I shut down overnight - so that's over 10000 overnight shutdowns. I've only had a few hardware failures over that time, and none that could be blamed on power-cycling as such. Most were accidental damage*, but I had one motherboard that killed power supplies coming out of standby (but not from cold boot, so powering off arguably saved hardware) and that was over 15 years ago.


* Dropping a powered-on machine can be bad for an active disc drive even if nothing else is broken so powering down (or using standby) is likely to save hardware. Spilling beer/coffee on stuff isn't good for it whether on or off; you may damage more components if you spill drinks on something that's powered up.

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Leaving your computer on at night doesn't provide any benefit. It's just a waste of energy, unless your sysadmin makes software maintenance at night.

The answer you're citing was :

  • a one-man experiment, not statistics
  • written in 2014 but in a past stance, no year reference
  • clearly regarding only magnetic hard-drives, not modern SSDs, and not the whole computer anyway
  • related to cost, not climate for instance
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    I tend to agree, but it would be nice to have some 'evidence' that shows that turning your computer on-and-off does't negatively impact the hardware.
    – THelper
    Sep 26 '19 at 14:27

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