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Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?

scouse 02 Aug 11 - 02:41 PM
Tootler 02 Aug 11 - 05:27 PM
DrugCrazed 02 Aug 11 - 06:11 PM
JohnInKansas 03 Aug 11 - 01:10 AM
GUEST 03 Aug 11 - 01:22 AM
Martha Burns 03 Aug 11 - 01:26 AM
scouse 03 Aug 11 - 03:57 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 03 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM
JohnInKansas 03 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM
kendall 03 Aug 11 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Jon 03 Aug 11 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,,gargoyle 04 Aug 11 - 12:32 AM
Martha Burns 04 Aug 11 - 01:03 AM
GUEST,BobL (software engineer) 04 Aug 11 - 03:16 AM
JohnInKansas 04 Aug 11 - 03:57 AM
Martha Burns 04 Aug 11 - 10:48 AM
GUEST, TomBliss 04 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM
Tiger 04 Aug 11 - 01:07 PM
JohnInKansas 04 Aug 11 - 01:25 PM
DrugCrazed 04 Aug 11 - 09:49 PM
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Subject: Tech: Does putting your Comp.
From: scouse
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 02:41 PM

Ok. guys and Gals, is putting your Computer on standby bad for your hard Drive?????

As Aye,

Phil


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: Tootler
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 05:27 PM

There should be an option to spin down the hard drive.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 06:11 PM

Do you mean standby or hibernate? Standby keeps your state in the memory (I think), but hibernate saves the current state to your hard drive and shuts the PC down.

I prefer hibernation to standby, since nothing is actually whirring or running.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 01:10 AM

In recent versions of Windows, you have some individual control over how long the computer will be idle before shutting down the monitor, shutting down the hard drives, shutting down the computer, entering standby, or entering hibernation. If you're really worried about your hard drive, you can tell it to power down if there haven't been reads or writes for a few minutes. This time doesn't necessarily have to match up with the standby, hibernate, or power off times.

Since nearly ALL components failures in a computer are accompanied by a pop, flash, or smoke, or by all three when you flip the switch to boot up, to be really safe you should NEVER TURN YOUR COMPUTER ON. That way it will always be ready to go. (Or at least ready to emit that pop, flash, and/or puff of smoke.)

A problem with shutting down the hard drive in paranoid fashion under the delusion that it will "save it" is that recent Windows versions do a lot of "background processing," such as indexing, defragging, cleaning up disks, and "completing the directory structure" that won't happen if you're shut down. A "deferred background process" is slightly more likely to attempt to "catch up" at the next opportunity, with a marginally small impact on boot time and efficiency of the machine while you're trying to use it. It's unlikely that you'll observe the "hit" but it sometimes is there if you reall look for it.

Updates also are distributed on various "schedules" and your machine won't get them the first day if it's down. For most, you'll get them the next time you reboot; but with the machine on the first time, you're likely to get a "background download" so that all you have to do that interrupts you is the install. If you get them later, there's more likely to be a "reduction in responsiveness" while the update connects to see what you missed, AND downloads, AND installs.

Shutting down the drive motor for your hard drives should be a "stress free" process, but turning it on, during the spoolup, probably produces as much additional "stress" on the drive as "idly spinning" for quit a few hours. It's possibly pretty much a break-even proposition if you use the computer nearly every day for more than a couple of hours.

In the business world, the valid real reason for putting a computer in sleep or hibernate modes is to keep someone else from getting into it if you need to leave the area for a while. You set and require a password to "wake it up." ("Wakeup" is not a recommended password.) Worrying about whether it's running or not, in order to "save the components" has such marginal effect that it's not really worth a lot of concern.

If you're worried about using up electricity, "Shutdown" and save it all when appropriate. Even standby or hibernate still draws enough to keep the bus up, since otherwise it couldn't recognize a wakeup call.

(IMO)

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 01:22 AM

Thanks, John! I've always wondered about this myself. Your post was really very helpful.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: Martha Burns
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 01:26 AM

Whoops. Lost cookie. That last post was from me.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: scouse
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 03:57 AM

Thanks John an everyone as ever so comprehensive.... Ta muchly from a wet (We had Summer yesterday...one fine day!!)Netherlands.

As Aye,

Phil.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM

Ah, but here's a question I bet even the redoubtable John can't answer:

> ...you have some individual control over how long the computer will be idle

Q: But what about when you repeatedly tell it and tell it and tell it to carry out your specified requirements and... it... just... WON'T. The damn thing always defaults to what IT wants to do, though sometimes it waits a few times and behaves itself for awhile, cat-&-mouse fashion. Then it has the gall to pepper-spray me with little pop-up dialogue balloons telling me stuff I don't need to know and didn't ask it, which won't sit down after a few moments but have to be clicked away.

Great unanswerable questions of our civilisation. But this thread also contains the best advice of all time:

> To be really safe you should NEVER TURN YOUR COMPUTER ON


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 04:46 AM

About the only help from the HD makers is that most of them do published a figure called MTBF (Mean Time Before Failure). This is an average time that a drive is supposed to be expected to last, but the "spread" is fairly broad.

Obviously, if 99% of a group has 100 dollars but 1% has a billion dollars the average is a little over 10,000,000 dollars

Obviously, if 99% of a group lasts 100 hours but 1% lasts a billion (109) hours, the average is 10,000,099 hours, but the number doesn't really mean much.

Early failures are usually the result of poor manufacturing control or defective parts, and for many kinds of hardware these can be pretty much eliminated by a "burn in" test before shipment, with the hope that the "bad ones" will fail before they get out the gate. For some things a very tight control of manufacturing processes can assure a very consistent product that will have very few "early failures." There is a compromise between the cost of throwing some away and the alternate cost of very good process controls. It's difficult to guess which way a given maker goes; but the early failure rate for HDs that are shipped is very low, and HDs are a sufficiently "mature" product to benefit a lot from mfg process control. Probably a high percentage of actual early failures at retail are the result of fork-lift damage, dropped or thrown packages, or other "sloppy stocking and storage."

A Hard Drive maker can trade off the cost (in customer satisfaction?) of a few early failures by offering a generous warranty. The length of warranty for HDs could be an indication of expected early failure rates, but in actuality it probably represents more of a decision about "how satisfied do our customers need to be."

Nearly all HDs offer one year "free replacement" although a few offer three years. IF enough early failures are replaced in the first year to "keep everybody fairly happen," it's likely that nearly all early failures are replaced within that time, so it can be expected to not cost the makers very much to add another couple of years to the warranty since most such will be eliminated during the first year of "customer burn-in."

Having had a couple of year-and-a-half failures, I'll give some consideration to the longer warranty, but not enough to outweigh all other considerations.

Once the early failures, mostly usually due to mfg defects (sometimes called "original defects"), are eliminated, most HDs will run for a rather long time before significant "wear out" failures even begin to appear. In the wear out part of the failure rate curve, the percentage (of the original number placed in us) that fail usually will increase gradually, until the ones "prone to wear" are eliminated, and then will fall off (partly since there are few of the original lot left to fail). The wear out part of the "failure curve" gendrally follows a Gaussian (random failure) distribution. (The Gaussian bit is incredibly important if you know what it means and need to use it, but of little significance if you don't - so don't worry over it.)

For a failure rate of the kind probably most like that for HDs, if all the early failures are replace so that they're eliminated from use, one can usually expect that "half the drives" might fail by the time you reach the MTBF time, but half will exceed that. (The "median" is very close to the "mean.") For protection against "false advertising claims, perhaps, most manufacturers are pretty conservative in their MTBF claims, so usually a little fewer than half will fail by MTBF.

For Hard Drives, MTBF values from about 30,000 hours (not particularly good, but not really too bad) up to around 120,000 hours for "high reliability" lines are quoted for current drives I've noticed.

For reference, a "standard year" for those working 40 hr per week gives you 2088 hours per year (Standard Contract number). Run 24 hr per day, that would be 6,264 hr/year (5 days per week). Running 24 hr per day but seven days per week would give a "year" of about 8,000 hours, so an MTBF of 20,000 hrs would mean that half (or a little more) your hard drives would run at least 2.3 years. This isn't actually too bad for the desktop computers at your office. (Remember half the drives will run longer than the half that fail, and probably much longer.) By the time you've replaced about half the drives in those computers, the drives they're using will be to small to hold the "next generation" software that the software people will make sure you have to use by "breaking the old stuff."

For your "sever farm" you'd probably want at least the critical stuff on higher reliability (longer MTBF) drives - - - or not. (Server drives are most often "hot swappable," and a lot easier to replace. If they're "striped" or otherwise "reduntantly duplicated," the required data for the replacement is automatically replicated from the others in the server, without any significant "operator interference.")

Yeah, I know, more than you wanted to know - but you didn't really have to read it all.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: kendall
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 06:37 AM

I leave mine on stand by all day and I turn it off at night.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 07:16 AM

If you're worried about using up electricity, "Shutdown" and save it all when appropriate. Even standby or hibernate still draws enough to keep the bus up, since otherwise it couldn't recognize a wakeup call.

I'm on Linux mostly but I would have guessed "Shutdown" works the same. Depending on BIOS settings, Shutdown will recognize a wakeup call. I shutdown and then use a wol (wake on lan) regularly with one PC. It goes into soft off rather than hard off.

On PC's management is usually achieved via ACPI. Wikipedia describes the "official" global states as follows:

    G0 (S0): Working
    G1, Sleeping subdivides into the four states S1 through S4:
       S1: All processor caches are flushed, and the CPU(s) stop executing instructions. Power to the CPU(s) and RAM is maintained; devices that do not indicate they must remain on may be powered down.
       S2: CPU powered off
       S3: Commonly referred to as Standby, Sleep, or Suspend to RAM. RAM remains powered
       S4: Hibernation or Suspend to Disk. All content of main memory is saved to non-volatile memory such as a hard drive, and is powered down.
    G2 (S5), Soft Off: G2 is almost the same as G3 Mechanical Off, but some components remain powered so the computer can "wake" from input from the keyboard, clock, modem, LAN, or USB device.
    G3, Mechanical Off: The computer's power consumption approaches close to zero, to the point that the power cord can be removed and the system is safe for dis-assembly (typically, only the real-time clock is running off its own small battery).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: GUEST,,gargoyle
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 12:32 AM

Watch the light. On and off - you are probably a torrent-download clone. BAD for HD.



Clean - no action? Let it spin. The rebooting is harder on he disk, and the spin costs a phennig per diam.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: Martha Burns
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 01:03 AM

I'd like to ask a related question. What are the consequences of turning off your computer by pulling the plug and then starting it up again -- i.e. not going through the official "shut-down" procedure. When my computer freezes and control/alt/del doesn't help, this is how I usually get around it. Is that a big No-No?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: GUEST,BobL (software engineer)
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 03:16 AM

Generally, if a computer can't recover from a power failure happening at any time, that's a pretty serious design flaw.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 03:57 AM

Martha -

As indicated by BobL, your Windows computer generally won't have a problem rebooting after a Forced Shutdown or power loss.

In most cases you can use the power switch to "force OFF" by holding it down for a few seconds (up to 10 or 15 seconds for some common computers). This will give you a "logical shutdown" that won't save open documents, but there's sometimes enough pause between the order to shut down and the actual removal of power to let the machine do at least some "trash clearing," mainly by terminating any process that happens to be in the middle of writing to the hard drive.

(If the computer has started writing something, it may "throw a few bits" at the Hard Drive, and if the drive begins to slow down while there's still "incoming" of course they might land in the wrong places. This can happen with ANY OS, regardless of design flaws.)

If you just pull the plug, or if power fails abruptly, everything stops, and there's a slightly higher chance of corrupting some file or another.

Most of the files most likely to be damaged get rewritten regularly, and will "fix themselves" (at least in Windows) and corruption from this kind of shutdown is actually very rare.

After using either method, holding down the switch button (preferred) or pulling the plug (rarely, if ever really required), the computer will normally inform you that the shutdown was abnormal the next time you turn on, and will ask if you want a normal boot or a safe boot. The options shown for "Safe Boot" can vary with the particular manufacturer or with OS version. Ordinarily just "Start Windows Normally" works just fine.

I have had to "hold the button" a quite a few times when things lock up, but only had to "unplug" power once, on an archaic laptop that wouldn't even respond to the button. Unplugging the AC power doesn't stop things since there's a battery in most laptops, so that one time I had to "pull the battery" too. Even that laptop never failed to respond to the "button" any time after that one incident.

Reference: A "forced shutdown" is sometimes referred to as a "BRS," in memory of the BIG RED SWITCH that was on all early mainframe computers. The lockup that forces you to "BRS" may in similarly archaic terms be called an ABEND (Abnormal End of Process). Only a few really old codgers probably remember those now, but knowing them might allow you to avoid stirring up some senile ol' fart someday.

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: Martha Burns
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 10:48 AM

Thank you very much for all the info. Will "hold the button" with full confidence, now.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: GUEST, TomBliss
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 12:42 PM

I never use stand-by or sleep for a different reason.

We'll all soon have to get into the habit of not only shutting off our computers, but turning all associated electrical items off at the mains - not only at night, but whenever we're away from our desks for any length of time (my cut-off is anything over about an hour).

One good way to do this is to have everything connected back to one extension board that's fitted with rocker switches - and have this to hand on the desk. I can, for example, have just all the computer stuff on (hard drives monitors, printers etc) - or just all the music stuff (keyboards, desk, amps, etc), or just the other stuff (lights, phone chargers, TVs etc), using a three-way trailing cable with rockers. (I do the same with the TV/hi-fi set-up etc).

OK, it takes a little while to fire up - and getting that balance right does depend on your machinery, but it's not as troublesome as you might think.

This not only saves me a lot of money, but I also know I'm emitting a teensy bit less CO2 than I would have been, and keeping a teensy bit more fossil fuel in the ground to build all those solar arrays with.


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Subject: BRS and ABEND
From: Tiger
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 01:07 PM

I remember all of them, John.

Also, catching the 'Emergency Pull' lever in my pants pocket while turning around and not paying attention.

That was a real bugger. Had to wait for the IBM guy to come and unlock everything :)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 01:25 PM

Tiger - I sort of figured that Fooles Troupe might be about the only ancient one here that would remember when you had to actually run your computer instead of just watching the popups and jiggly pinball effects. Haven't seen him in any of the Tech threads recently. Good to hear that there are a few grownups around.

You might even remember back when we had to empty the bit bucket at the end of every shift, but may not be quite old enough to know the difference between a kluge and a kludge(?).

John


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Subject: RE: Tech: Computer on standby bad for hard drive?
From: DrugCrazed
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 09:49 PM

Hibernation is a shutdown without closing everything. I don't believe it's bad for your HDD, and if it is then you should learn how to write an OS better ;)

I've hibernated my machine and unplugged while I've had to tinker inside (I was replacing a fan, so it's good), and it boots up and I continue my drab life on the internet.


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