View Full Version : Leaving a PC on 24/7 - Thoughts?

01-10-2011, 03:13 AM
For at least a year now I've been leaving my PC on almost 24/7. I have a number of reasons for this. For example, as im sure is the case with many of you, I do my defragging/downloading etc overnight. I also have fairly bad tinnitus (probably from going to too many concerts as a teenager), and have found the gentle hum of a PC in the background to be a welcome distraction from the constant ringing that used to keep me up all night. I've also been told before that booting/shutting down your PC can actually have adverse affects on the hardware; hard disks suffer a great deal of force when spinning up, and chips can crack their solder due to rapidly rising and falling temperatures. Not that I've ever seen much in the way of proof to back such things up.

However, I've also noticed an above average number of component failures over the last year or so, including my motherboard, my GPU, and an external fan, all of which were only two or three years old. I do of course shut my PC down occasionally - perhaps once a week - when performing updates, during power cuts (I have a UPS), or simply when going out for long periods of time.

So anyway, I was just hoping to gauge your various opinions on the matter. Is leaving your PC on for days - or perhaps even weeks - at a time going to affect its performance or longevity in any way?

01-10-2011, 04:02 AM
It seems logical to me that you'd experience hardware failures when running your computer almost constantly. I'm not much of a hardware boffin, but I would think that it might be worthwhile to invest in hardware designed for servers if you plan on continuing to run your computer this way. Servers are supposed to run 24/7 so it would make sense that the hardware is more robust in this area. Though I'm sure someone with a broader knowledge set than mine could offer better advice.

If you're running windows (which is probably a safe assumption on a gaming forum) then apparently it really doesn't like being on for long periods of time, will run worse and be more prone to crashes. Not sure if this is just an issue with older versions of the OS, or if Vista and 7 suffer from it as well. But if you've already been doing this for a while you'll obviously know better than I do anyway.

01-10-2011, 05:06 AM
Windows XP user here, still using my five-year-old rig, had it on 24/7 from day one. Its gentle hum lulls me to sleep every night.

01-10-2011, 05:58 AM
Most modern components will swap into low power states if the demand isn't high enough for them to operate at full speed, so it's not like it'll be running full speed all the time unless you're using older hardware. I don't think it'd have an ultra-significant impact on lifespan (i.e. the parts would last easily until it was upgrade time unless you spend like several years between upgrades).

What I'd be concerned about is your HDD; if you're going to run a HDD 24/7 with reasonably constant disk operation it'll make a difference to the device's lifespan. There are HDDs out there designed for 24/7 operation which you might want to get. Given that the data is ultimately the most important part I'd be most concerned with this aspect, moreso than the other components which would probably be fine. The entire "cracking solder due to rapidly rising temps" thing doesn't sound realistic to me; the temps should not rapidly rise and fall that often and quickly.

As for the Windows thing - I guess there might be some truth to that but anecdotally I can't say that's the case. The client versions of Windows aren't as robust as the server versions but they're not far off it so it shouldn't be a factor at all (not since XP at least, but Vista/7 would be much better at it than XP).

Alex Bakke
01-10-2011, 09:02 AM
As far as I know - Keeping a computer on 24/7 is actually pretty normal within tech communities, and nothing adverse happens usually. If I remember correctly, when you boot a computer up it causes micro-fractures to form on the CPU and GPU, which over time might contribute to them failing, etc. So I'd advise keeping it on 24/7 if you're ok with the power bill ;)

01-10-2011, 10:04 AM
I have my GPU protein folding (http://folding.stanford.edu/ Team 96276) so my PC is on most of the time. I send it to sleep mode when I'm at work, but otherwise it's on and I only really restart it when an update requires it. Your problems might arise from your PC just running too hot. Get Speccy: -


which will give you a good idea as to your system temperatures. Right now my cpu is running at about 47c whilst my HDs are at about 27 - 30c & my MB about 48c. That's idling (I've a few apps running but no games) under game load obviously things get a tad hotter.

Get GPU-Z for your graphics card: -


Which will give you your GPU temperature details. My GPU is folding right now at a steady 66c. If I just idle the temperature drops to about 37c. Playing a game generally (I pause folding when I'm playing) the GPU is around 66c though it has been a lot higher in the past.

The other thing to do is make sure you have a good ventilation system going on (lots of push pull by your fans...I have a 690 coolermaster case and the side fans all push, whilst the top fans pull) as well as regularly cleaning your rig out of Dust bunnies once a month or so. One way to cut down on those is to add some fan grills to the pull inlets: -


http://www.scan.co.uk/products/140mm-silverstone-fan-grille-and-filter-kit-magnetic (good for PSUs)

Also don't OC unless you absolutely feel you have to. If you're just leaving the machine on there's no point having it run hotter than necessary (plus your electricity bill will thank you).

01-10-2011, 11:32 AM
TL:DR version: Leaving your computer on for 24/7 is safe. NOTHING will happen to your computer.

Leaving your computer on for 24/7 has only ONE bad side effect: Your electric bill. BUT most hardware people use are smart enough to manage their power consumption properly, so you don't need to worry about it. Also is a fact, that my electric company has a reduced price on night times (around 19:00 to 06:00).

Shutting down and then powering it on your PC constantly only affects your PSU (Power Supply Unit). And with a modern PSU, it only has a very, very, very minimal effect. For example, I had a very old PSU I wanted to get rid of (from year 2000 or so). So what I did was a little test, what would happen if I kept pressing the power button constantly. Well, after like 20 or so times, the PSU died. BUT with a modern PSU, you can go up to 100 times. So really, unless something bad happens, leaving your computer on for 24/7 or shutting it down when you go to sleep HAS NO EFFECT at all on your hardware.

When it comes to your OS, IT DOES NOT MATTER. Its a myth that a Linux or Mac OS have higher uptime (which matters greatly for servers) then a Windows platform. That is just so completely BS fact. Unless you did something wrong or idiotic stuff with OS, all OS can have 24/7 uptime, when it comes to not having BSOD (Linux and Mac have BSOD as well, only they are not called BSOD and are completely different).

What matters for uptime is also three other things: Power, Internet and Software. If your server or home computer is in somewhere where you are 100% certain that you will always have electricity and internet, your uptimes are higher as well. The most factoring thing for any uptime is the software. Use a buggy or bad software and you fill find bad things happening with your computer.

Defragging your HDD every night is a bad idea. It will kill your HDD fast. Only do it minimally once a month AND only if you do a lot of moving, creating, deleting, copying and other similar file related actions. Other then that, doing stuff like downloading or generally the above mentioned file actions don't affect your HDD lifespan.

If your computer overheats if you do something behind it other then using some 3D applications (games, modeling, texturing) then your fans are dieing or your hardware is.

One thing you have to remember, is to at least shut down your computer ONCE to clean the inside from dust. Once a month is recommended.

If I remember correctly, when you boot a computer up it causes micro-fractures to form on the CPU and GPU, which over time might contribute to them failing, etc.No.

02-10-2011, 08:22 AM
Yeah I leave mine on 24/7 and always have done.

I have also overlocked both CPU and GPUs, but in such a way as to still allow them to clock down on idle as they would at stock.

Invested in a Coolermaster HAF-X case too which, whilst rather large, is wonderfully quiet, has excellent airflow and allows me to turn the LED off via a front panel switch so it doesn't disturb me whilst on!

02-10-2011, 02:41 PM
If you run a super-spec'd gaming rig, you might want to consider a super cheap and low power download rig - even a second-hand/budget laptop will save you money on your leccy bill cause even in low power states a full PC draws more than, say, an Atom system.

Either that or make sure your C1/C3/C6 power saving states are on in the BIOS, swap your OS HDD for an SSD and make sure your other drives are set to power down after 30 minutes. Another alternative is to buy a Green/ECO drive as your download one, which is more to do with quietness than saving power.

If you overclock, you can use the motherboard software to set profiles that switches it back to normal settings with power saving states as you leave it to go out or sleep. All this helps. :)

Personally I have a mini-ITX machine with an underclocked Athlon II X2 in it. It downloads to a cheap 30GB SSD and I just clean that out daily.

Oh, and if you're running Win 7 you never need to manually defrag your HDD. It'll do it on its own. And obviously SSDs don't need it either.

Listen to Draakon about OS - all modern OS' can survive indefinitely 24/7 unless you've used dodgy drivers, software or bad BIOS manual settings. Default setting should *always* work if the hardware plugged in is working properly.

02-10-2011, 03:22 PM
I'll second a lot of this. Regarding hard-drive fatigue and failure, I tend to go with Western Digitals. If you don't want to loose data, back them up, and replace them after 3 years. Otherwise, run a RAID (1), and backup your data, and you'll be fine.

If you're seeing a lot of hardware failures, the first place to check (as said above) is temperature. The second would be power surges, but your UPS will take care of them. (To the point of Blowing Up in the extreme case, so your computer doesn't. Yes, that's what they're designed to do.)

02-10-2011, 07:33 PM
A small tip I picked up from a Seagate engineer many years ago: for 24/7 HD use, mount them horizontally, not vertically if possible. Evidently the effect of gravity on the armature has some (albeit very small) statistically measurable effect on lifespan.

04-10-2011, 10:19 PM
And here I thought computers didn't perform very well after being put in standby and then brought out of it.

I think I'm remembering Windows 95, but honestly... I can't keep up with what changes in computerland. Are you here all discussing the use of standby (or even Hibernate? I don't know, what's wrong with on and off?) or are you assuming a quite literally always on computer, like a server.

I turn the power plug off at the wall every night on my computer. Is this bad? Is it good? Is it a non-entity? (I'm betting on this one).

05-10-2011, 09:12 AM
We run PC's 24/7 all year round. We mostly use Dells and the life expectancy for the better ones are around 4 to 5 years.

The hardware does fail after a while. The most common one is the bearings in the hard drives wearing out. Second probably the capacitors on the mother board.

It will definitely reduce the life of your computer, depends on how often you change it or upgrade the components.

05-10-2011, 09:34 AM
Is it a non-entity? (I'm betting on this one).

You win your bet sir!

05-10-2011, 05:45 PM
More importantrly, think about the cost.

At a low 150 watt drain when in low use, and another conservative 10 pence per killowatt hour (which is about right for off peak, it can be up to 20p in peak times depending on where you are).

You're looking at 11 a month to keep it on 24/7.