Posted Fri May 2, 2003, 8:12am Subject: Re: Leaving Power On 24/7?
This question was recently discussed at length in the thread "BZ99 - Can I really leave the machine on 24/7?". No definitive conclusion, although the majority seemed to be leaning towards "leave it on 24/7" to reduce failure rates. For home machines, most seem to use a heavy duty timer or pull blank shots as suggested in "Cheating Miss Silvia" to preheat the group.
I didn't comment on the above thread, but I must admit to a bit of déjà-vu. This same sort of debate occurs regularly in the computer industry, with some claiming that leaving on monitors, CPUs, etc. will reduce failure rates. I find these claims a bit dubious, and believe many originated in the days when mean time between failure rates were measured in a few 1000s of hours, not 10x that figure as is typically the case today. Apparently high-end electronic equipment that uses vacuum tubes remain an undisputed exception.
I decided long ago that I wouldn't feed "energy vampires" after I read that the US requires the output equivalent of 2-3 nuclear power plants to keep all these passive machines happy. Perhaps that is an environmentalist's exaggeration. In any case, it assuages a little of my guilt about America's conspicuous consumption of world energy resources.
I'll risk a moment on the soapbox and offer some related food for thought on conspicuous consumption from this article: Humvee's Obnoxious New Ad: And why it's so great. I found the term coined by the author, an "FUV", quite amusing, albeit sadly appropriate.
To bring this back to your question, I'd be interested in hearing non-anecdotal evidence that confirms or refutes the assertion that 24/7 uptime affects MTBF rates. For what it's worth, in the perenial debate among computer hardware engineers, the majority leans toward "turn it off at the end of the day" and they deride those who say otherwise as recounting data from the early 1970s. As I recall the details of one story, IBM once issued a warning to owners of a certain 3270 display model ("green screen" as shown below), telling them that daily on/off cycles would dramatically affect the MTBF rate. Customers diligently followed IBM's advice, and screen burn-in was born -- and spawned an entire micro-industry of "screen savers" years later. Ironically, IBM manufacturing quickly corrected the fault in the 3270 line. More than two decades later, many customers and engineers insist the displays must be left on.
Hence why this discussion provokes such a strong sense of déjà-vu in me. I've read similar discussions on cars ("Should I leave my car running for 15 minutes while I wait for my wife, or restart it?"). But I digress.
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