Computer turned off overnight or if not used within 2 hours
Our computers will be powered down if not used overnight or if no one plans to use it within two hours.
If the system will be restarted 2 or more times in an evening, I will leave it on until we power it down before going to bed.
I do encourage family members to utilize the Stand By function (via a crescent moon button on the keyboard) between sessions. On one computer this works flawlessly and quickly (though my wife gets impatient with the wireless connection being reestablished). Another computer can use Stand By mode, but takes longer to reach a usable point.
Reasoning on turning off computer:
Even though the system may appear to not be doing anything when not in use, system components are still powered and active. Anytime voltage is applied and current is flowing, the normal life expectancy of system components is being reduced.
Think in terms of a typical light bulb. Bulbs come with life spans (e.g. 1200 hours). This assumes 1200 hours of continuous use with no on/off cycling typical of entering and leaving a room.
Computer systems are the same way. Like light bulbs, powering on a system requires a little jolt that takes a little more away from the life span of the components. For physics buffs, think of a mass (e.g. the platters of a hard drive) going from the inertial state of rest to a state of motion. It takes a little extra power/force for the disk platters to overcome their resting state. They must be accelerated (application of force) until the appropriate spin rate is obtained. Afterwards, it takes far less force to maintain the spin.
Of all the light bulbs I have replaced, most failed when I turned them on. On one computer I had 8 years ago, a chip on the graphics card blew with an audible pop when I powered on the system. Most component failures, however, are less noticeable based on other experiences and reports from other people
Exception to the turn-off rule:
I will leave the system on overnight to perform updates, backups and intensive maintenance activities (e.g. deep virus scanning, registry maintenance, drive defragmentation). I think it is better to do this after-hours than when we need the systems during the evenings while trying to do homework, research and pay bills.
Security concerns if left running overnight:
Minimal, considering three important items.
1) Properly installed/configured/secured router with NAT.
2) Up-to-date and configured anti-viral, anti-adware, and firewall software on all computers within home network.
3) Ensuring important financial documents and transactions are not executed on the shared family computer (such are isolated to a more secure system). Identity and privacy protection software can help eliminate concerns, but I am not seen sufficient test reports to make me feel comfortable with conducting financial transactions and accessing my bank account on any other family computer.
Those are my thoughts on the subject. I look forward to reading more opinions.
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