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PC question


Tiggsherby

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We have experts on everything around here so here's my question:

I just got two new PC's for my kids (a necessity in middle school in this day and age). ($300 for the works...PC, monitor and printer...what a deal!!!)

Anyway,

At the end of the day should we be shutting them all the way down and turning them off?

My sister-in-law was told by her tech people to just keep them on all of the time? I always shut my PC all the way and then restart it the next morning. Does it matter?

Thanks!

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I don't know if it matters, but we always shut ours all the way down, also. They keep all the computers running in my school all day long, but everyone is required to shut them off at night when we leave. I'm *definitely* no computer expert, so I hope someone who is savvy will answer your question soon, Harry. Good Luck.

I think it's *wonderful* that you bought your children computers! Lucky lucky kids!

smile --Darlene

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Harry, my techie friends leave their p.c.'s on all of the time, but the list Jules attached gives good reasoning. In addition to the list, another safety factor is that the electrical components running all the time can cause the fan to run constantly and it can overheat. About two years ago I read about a local house fire that started in a child's bedroom when the computer caught fire. Presumably the dust inside the cover had built up and when something overheated, the dust inflamed. Ever since then, I shut mine down everytime I leave the house or go to sleep.

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Harry,

I used to work in PC support, and we never could decide if it was better one way or the other. There are pros and cons either way.

I read the suggestions re:nightly PC shutdown, and much of what they say is true, although they're talking mainly about a PC network type of setup, and I don't think that applies to you.

On the "con" side, the hardest wear on electrical parts comes from the initial surge when you turn it on. So, reducing the shutdowns reduces the wear.

Personally, I leave mine on all the time, both work and home.

Jack

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I leave mine on for several days and then give it a night off. At work we keep them on all the time.

When I had Windows 98 I had to shut it off or it wouldn't work. With XP it doesn't have any "fatal errors" so it works fine whether I shut it down or leave it running.

--Julie

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Harry, I don't know about you, but I'm *really* confused NOW! When there's a thunderstorm, we turn *everything* off. Good Luck! Whatever you do, your kids are going to LOVE those computers.

There are a lot of violin sites for your daughter, the violinist, to visit. There's a practice.com or something from the UK that helps parents learn about practice tips for children. There's a violinlessons.com and if that's not the exact name of the site, Google "Kurt Sassamanshaus" and it will come up. He gives online lessons and playing tips. You're a great Dad!

smile --Darlene

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I spoke briefly with a friend who is a computer tech today and asked him about this since it was fresh in my mind. He said there are pros and cons to both sides, but he emphasized that with so many computer viruses, worms, etc out there, the less your pc is actually online, the less your chances of being infected. He said for that reason alone, it's his own opinion that if your pc is off for a third of the day, that's a 33% less chance you have of an "attack" by whatever happens to be out there. But he said as far as harming your computer, unless there's a power surge, leaving it on doesn't pose any danger, and he said it's really just personal preference.

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I didn't read the article, but it used to be that start up was the hardest on the computer- back then when you pressed the 'on' button it was hard wired to the power switching and the computer really used to take a beating from too much on and off action. Now, the pressing of the start button only requests that the computer starts up, and it does it's own checking of circuits and things before it allows power to flow the the processors and such. Not nearly as much 'jolt' to the computer. Kirk.

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I've been involved with PC's a very long time (anyone remember the old IBM PC and the TANDY models?). Anyway, if you're running any version of MS Windows, then I would NOT recommend leaving the PC on constantly. The Windows operating system uses the shut-down process to clean itself up, flush buffers and virtual memory (write behind disk caching). When a PC is left on for several days, you can run the risk of serious logical data damage if the machine locks up (blue screen of death) or if the power gets interrupted and a reboot is forced.

Probably the biggest reason for PC failures that I've noticed over the years are:

1) Poor surge protectors

2) Filling up the hard drive

3) Virus/Spyware issues

Surge Protestors - I recommend getting a good one that includes a phone line surge suppression (if dial-up) or a cable line suppression if cable broadband. Avoid those simple units that look like a power strip. I've had good luck with the Stratetic Computer grade units (I have a 1993 PC that has never failed). Sam's Club offers one for around $20 (Best Buy sells the same unit for $40)

Filling up the hard drive - Sometimes people will let their hard drive get over-filled. Make sure that you at least keep 25% to 33% free space. Operating system components such as System Restore and Virtual Memory use available free disk space for their operations. Running out of space can cause lock-ups and eventually drive damage. Nowdays, end-users can get external USB hard drives which are great for a second drive or data back-up.

Virus/Spyware - Although this won't lead to physical damage to the system, they can cause poor performance and loss of privacy. Lavasoft has a FREE version of their ADAWARE SE applicaton. It's free and they keep it up to date. Many companies offer Anti-Virus software - the big ones are Norton and McAfee. If you like free apps, WWW.GRISOFT.COM offers a FREE version of their anti-virus software for home users. Many computer publications like it!

Other concerns: Heat build up - make sure the unit gets plenty of air in the back. This is where power supply fan is generally located. Keep the CPU case dusted as well (including any vent openings - soft brushes are great for this).

Someone mentioned about internet attacks if the PC is constantly up. This is a very good point too. Also, if your kids are going to use it online - check on them - don't trust those NetNanny types of applications. Most companies that offer nasty net stuff are 2 steps ahead of those applications.

Summary (if you don't want to read all the other stuff above)!

I would say that if the machine is going to be inactive for two hours or more, I'd turn it off. If there's a nasty thunderstorm or a power outtage - unplug it if possible (including any phone line connections).

Hope the information helps! Shout if you have any questions!

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I didn't read the article, but it used to be that start up was the hardest on the computer- back then when you pressed the 'on' button it was hard wired to the power switching and the computer really used to take a beating from too much on and off action. Now, the pressing of the start button only requests that the computer starts up, and it does it's own checking of circuits and things before it allows power to flow the the processors and such. Not nearly as much 'jolt' to the computer. Kirk.

A-ha! Makes sense, Kirk. It's been a while since I did PC support, so I guess I've learned something here.

One other thing that's a factor in all this for us Windows users is that there have been so many security holes found in it that we're having to apply new security patches every other day, practically. Those tend to require reboots, so that's often how I end up restarting the PC and clearing buffers, committing registry changes, etc.

Otherwise, I leave it on all the time. I do have a good surge protector, and firewall software, so I feel pretty safe doing that. Oh, and no kids either, so no worries about "unsafe" content. Unless you count me constantly reading the EC board! ;-)

Jack

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Did some more digging on this (although it all seems to boils down to personal preference).

A PC has usually 2 or more fans: 1 on the power supply, and 1 on the processor. Their life span is rated in cycles - so leaving the PC on will shorten their life - hence over heating. Plus they suck in lots of dust which creates more heat. An aside, I once opened up a PC that belonged to a moderate smoker, TAR covered everything inside - but it still ran!!!

Hard drive - One school says that leaving run wears ot the bearing. Another says the OFF/ON spin up/spin down is rough on it - Dang'd if you do, Dang'd if you don't! - Possible tie here!

You might want to investigate using Sleep Mode and Hibernate Mode. These power the PC down to very minimal power - and you can program them to wake up for different reasons (i.e. incoming call, keyboard activity, etc.).

I still say turn it off at night (or if everyone is out of the house for a while), but given that after 4 years a PC is generally obsolete, you're probably okay either way.

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