×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Do Any Companies Power Down at Night?

Soulskill posted more than 6 years ago | from the when-else-can-employees-run-their-torrents dept.

Power 646

An anonymous reader writes "My Health Sciences Campus has about 8,000 desktop computers, and on any given night about half of them are left on. I know this because I track all the MAC addresses in case there is a virus outbreak. Aside from the current fad of 'being green', has anyone had any success in encouraging users to power-down at night? You could potentially eliminate running bots, protect yourself from the next virus outbreak, keep your data safe, etc. Do security concerns and power consumption issues matter enough to do this?"

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

646 comments

Aside from being green... (2, Insightful)

flatulus (260854) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118004)

I won't go into the green topic. But here's a suggestion: Why don't you just shut down ethernet switches and routers at night? That would be just as effective at halting propagation of virii/bots, and would be much easier to effect.

And improved employee morale could result as well, since what would be the point of working late? :-)

Re:Aside from being green... (5, Insightful)

Bwian_of_Nazareth (827437) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118052)

The answer is simple. Tiny minority of the computers that are on could still be used by someone doing something important. You do not want to cut them off from the network.

Re:Aside from being green... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118546)

Amen to that. I doubt anyone really wants to pull an all-nighter, they're there because there's a deadline coming or a problem that must be resolved right now. And whether true or false, the first time anyone uses the excuse "Well, I was ready to pull an all-nighter but from 10pm the network was down" the IT department will have their ass chewed out. PCs inactive -> PCs hibernate is ok, but even then you need a simple way to disable it. On several occasions I've visited copmanies that had boxes which were "don't touch - accessed remotely by VPN" where the user couldn't just unhibernate it in the morning. Plus funny stuff like updates, virus scans and backup (if applicable) that probably runs at some ungodly hour which means you need to wake them first or lose most of the downtime, run those and put them back into sleep. Sure, maybe you could get every PC do to this reliably but I think the administration and scripting of that will cost you quite a bit.

Create job to force automatic reboot or shutdown (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118142)

You could always roll out a job on the computer to automatically reboot or shutdown the computer at a certain time.

Re:Create job to force automatic reboot or shutdow (4, Insightful)

dustmite (667870) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118442)

Someone might be using it ... there are always a few late users. Trying to determine if a computer is in use in order to shut it down isn't always that simple.

I suggest a simpler, low-tech solution - just stick up visible signs in the labs, and on some of the major office floors, asking people to shut down the computers in the evenings ... it won't be a 100% solution, but most people would probably comply, so for the comparatively little effort put in I bet you can hardly get a better return.

Just the energy savings on that many computers would be not insignificant.

Re:Create job to force automatic reboot or shutdow (3, Funny)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118480)

Microsoft seems to have figured it out. They shut down my computer for me quite often to do updates.

Re:Aside from being green... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118206)

Quite a few of us like to work in the night (from 2 pm onwards)- mostly because our best working hours are during that time. Also it is a lot more helpful if you have a geographically distributed team.

Easy fix (2, Insightful)

Eun-HjZjiNeD (1001079) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118008)

Employ strict log-on hours and use a tool for remote shutdown/startup from the monitoring station.

Re:Easy fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118070)

You have to weigh that against lost productivity from employees needing to remote into their workstation at night and print that document to submit for tomorrow's 8:00am deadline. They'll now be able to blame IT, when the boneheaded logon-hours policy makes them fail.

Re:Easy fix (3, Interesting)

UncleTogie (1004853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118292)

You have to weigh that against lost productivity from employees needing to remote into their workstation at night and print that document to submit for tomorrow's 8:00am deadline. They'll now be able to blame IT, when the boneheaded logon-hours policy makes them fail.

You might be able to set up an "exception" ticket with the IT department, or set up a Magic Packet [wikipedia.org] arrangement tied to their machine.

Re:Easy fix (1)

mdelcorso (70934) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118326)

What kind of company doesn't have people working at all hours of the night, even if you aren't global? I've put in many all nighters or weekends. We have people that come in at 5 am normally, others that work until midnight...

We power down at weekends (3, Informative)

Realistic_Dragon (655151) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118012)

During the week machines are left up to push automatic updates (5 minutes of downtime, times 10k employees, is about $80,000 of billable time). At weekends they get shut off either manually or under remote control.

Re:We power down at weekends (4, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118304)

What's the cost of 10k * 261 days * 12 hours of power?

Surely you could use wake on lan to wake the machines then do your rollout 10 minutes later? Or do a patch install when the machine is turned on and connects to the domain controller?

In windows I'm sure you can set the time between warning appearing and shutdown ocuring. Give 600 seconds warning and you could probably shutdown 90% of the machines overnight.

Re:We power down at weekends (3, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118510)

What's the cost of 10k * 261 days * 12 hours of power?

Well over half a million dollars if I did the math right.

Surely you could use wake on lan to wake the machines then do your rollout 10 minutes later? Or do a patch install when the machine is turned on and connects to the domain controller?

Unfortunately, this doesn't always work well. On some networks, the machines will auto-start up the moment they receive a packet, even if it isn't intended for them.

Re:We power down at weekends (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118514)

In windows I'm sure you can set the time between warning appearing and shutdown ocuring. Give 600 seconds warning and you could probably shutdown 90% of the machines overnight.

You're assuming that 100% of machines in use are doing something interactive (and therefore have someone sat at them). This is frequently not the case.

Common wisdom (2, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118026)

It's probably smarter to track IP addresses unless you control all the switches :)

Common wisdom (which may or may not be actual wisdom) suggests that powering up/down of computer power supplies is one of the largest sources of "wear" on computers nowadays, and so it's best to avoid that (replacing system components and increased costs in the industries to make this possible should be factored into eco-costs as well). Having systems go to sleep to various degrees presumably gets one much of the way towards being more eco-friendly without so much of this wear. That said, presumably a rigourous analysis on the topic would provide more reliable guidance.

Re:Common wisdom (4, Insightful)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118264)

Common wisdom (which may or may not be actual wisdom) suggests that powering up/down of computer power supplies is one of the largest sources of "wear" on computers nowadays, and so it's best to avoid that
Nope. That would only be true if all of the three are true:

1: Power-cycling actually reduces the MTBF opposed to just leaving it on.

2: The reduced MTBF is lower than your company intends to keep the asset.

3: Cost-savings from the "increased" MTBF by leaving it on is greater than the electricity (+ increased A/C cost) cost to run those 300W power supplies all the time.

Of the ~6 computers I've had to failure, they all lasted far longer than even a five-year technology plan, AND did not fail due to simple wear and tear on the circuits. My anecdote isn't data, but it does make me question your conventional wisdom. (Especially since those PCs I know that are left on all the time don't have a significantly increased lifespan.)

Re:Common wisdom (1)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118370)

I'm willing to question my conventional wisdom too :) It's just something I've heard combined with a little bit of reasoning - not necessarily valid. I have heard that #1 is likely to be true and that #3 may be as well. I would be pleased to see careful testing/analysis that would let us know for sure though. As for #2, I'm not sure that's necessarily the right way to think about the problem - if the model is gaussian, you may be hit by equipment dying very early - earlier than any company would like, and the costs of getting a replacement power supply (and/or possibly motherboard and other components) on society may aggregate to something fairly large.

I wouldn't say your anecdote is not data, just that there's not enough of it to draw conclusions that are particularly broad. We all have anecdotal data to draw from - generally I've found that in my personal and work life, power cycles tend to claim computers - most systems in my machine room at work have died when one of the UPSs didn't quite manage to last a power outage, and most systems at home similarly died when being moved or otherwise powered down. These may be explained partly or wholly by other factors though, which is why it'd be helpful to have a broad study or a careful analysis.

Re:Common wisdom (3, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118294)

Most failures of any electrical or electronic system occur during startup. That's when subsystems haven't fully stabilized and experience high inrush currents, with concomitant spike heating and other stresses. It's the same reason incandescent lights usually pop when switched on, but rarely fail when left lit.

I never switch any of my systems off, and failures are extremely rare. I have all monitors and flat panels automatically power down, but I leave hard drives running continuously. About the only time I have to replace something is when I upgrade every few years. Yes, it adds a few dollars to my electric bill, but I save in other areas there, and it is worth the peace of mind.

Even fans (which are the weak link in most PCs) can run for ages if you spend the money to buy quality parts. It helps to have a good HEPA filter in your computer room, and keep the machines off the floor. Fans last a long time without dust in the bearings, and a dust-free computer runs cooler as well.

Re:Common wisdom (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118556)

If something breaks upon power-up, it HAS ALREADY failed, you are just changing when the failure is exposed. I'd rather know ASAP when something has failed so that I can plan for replacement. Unless you like running around like an idiot when someone accidentally blows a fuse and every fifth PC in your organization fails to spin drives and fans.

Re:Common wisdom (3, Funny)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118424)

Common wisdom (which may or may not be actual wisdom) suggests that powering up/down of computer power supplies is one of the largest sources of "wear" on computers nowadays, and so it's best to avoid that (replacing system components and increased costs in the industries to make this possible should be factored into eco-costs as well). Having systems go to sleep to various degrees presumably gets one much of the way towards being more eco-friendly without so much of this wear. That said, presumably a rigourous analysis on the topic would provide more reliable guidance.
Some paragraph. Can you, like, up a notch on ass-covering? It can use some more "presumably" and "may or may not". Throw in some "perhaps" and "possibly" too.

Re:Common wisdom (5, Funny)

Improv (2467) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118482)

False certainty characterises a bit too much of dialogue on the internet, I think, and makes it hard to be careful and humble in discussion. If I felt more sure of what I were saying, I'd have phrased it differently :) Presumably :P

Re:Common wisdom (2, Insightful)

DrydenK (692159) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118502)

Actually, obsolescence kills the computer much earlier. Tipically, computers will be used for 2 to 5 years (sometimes for 6 or 7 years, but hardly more than that) before beeing discarted. It's power systems usually last a LOT longer than that, as long as you have minimal working conditions (decent energy supply or UPS, climate, etc).

So, keeping the computer on just to a avoid a possible wearing out of the physical parts really does not make much sense.

Backups/Updates (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118028)

Don't people typically perform backups/updates at night?

Preventing Infection? (2, Interesting)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118032)

A lot of places require machines to be on overnight because that is when automated update, monitoring and scanning tasks can run without impacting users. Of course, the machine could be configured to automatically shut down when this is finished. Actually shutting down is typically highly inconvenient since the machine loses state due to 30 years of bad OS design when this happens but a suspend-to-disk mode is a viable alternative.

Re:Preventing Infection? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118530)

I use hibernate every night to shut my computer down. I guess I'm one of the lucky ones. I've known a lot of computers where hibernate simply doesn't work. This lets me conserve power and come back to a computer that is just how I left it.

Do Any Companies Power Down at Night? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118036)

No. That's when we run anti-virus and other scans on the desktops.

And push out patches and other updates.

Re: Do Any Companies Power Down at Night? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118420)

You might want to investigate the topic of "wake on LAN".

Good idea! (4, Interesting)

cromar (1103585) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118038)

I would go with a reward plan. You could do something like give the top three most energy efficient people a gift certificate to the campus eatery (or whatever really). Calculate how much money is saved (out of everyone participating) and use part of that money to create a pool for the prizes. (It seems like for a large enough group of people, the energy and maintenance costs would reduce considerably, but I wouldn't really know ;) I know I would definitely turn off my work PC every night if I got a free lunch!

Re:Good idea! (5, Funny)

fotoflo (1018618) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118238)

The top three "energy efficiency" people are the people taht never show up for work and leave their computers off all the time.

Re:Good idea! (4, Funny)

Angostura (703910) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118374)

Hmmm, lets see if a small amendment to the metric could circumvent that problem.... no, you're right it's an impossibly difficult flaw to fix.

Re:Good idea! (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118554)

Those're the top three energy-conserving people. Efficiency is work done per unit cost.

I do... (1)

EchoD (1031614) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118040)

I work for a small company of about 20 persons. Some of us have two machines that we use regularly throughout the day, but not all -- so we probably have around 30 computers. Unless there's a need to leave a machine on all evening or weekend (rendering, maintenance, etc...), I try to shut them down as I leave for the day. Any machine that won't be left on to render is set to enter a low-power mode (standby, sleep, etc...) after an hour or two. It's not for security, nor any desire to "go green" -- the machines just don't need to be running all night.

Hibernate (4, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118042)

It's time that all large campuses configured their systems hibernate automatically, if left unused for 30 minutes.

Really, there is no reason NOT to use the power management settings built into the OS.

Re:Hibernate (5, Interesting)

superflit (1193931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118126)

I did a project in My Campus with more than 8000 desktop computers.
It saved something like 33% power consumption (measured, before and after).
after midnight all desktops that are not in the excluded list hibernate automatically.
I used python + MFC . Was very easy and simple.
It is time for the Sysadmins start to program and make better use from the technology (not just, next-next-finish)..

And I didn't receive any raise besides saving a lot of money to University.
Shameless promotion: Looking for a new job in developed country.

Re:Hibernate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118464)

I'm very interested, could you tell us more about how exactly you did it (API ? etc.)

Re:Hibernate (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118528)

I'm sure he'd be happy to after you give him a job in a developed country.

This [mvps.org] was the top result in Google when I searched for "windows remote power down API".

Re:Hibernate (5, Informative)

The Second Horseman (121958) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118214)

On a Windows XP system, you also want to set the CPU performance in the default power profile to "ADAPTIVE". I'd actually think you'd do well to set the hard drives to spin down and the monitor to turn off after 15 or 20 minutes, set the system to suspend after 30 or 45 minutes, and hibernate after an hour and a half to two hours. You might have to exempt some systems from hibernating - some software and drivers don't always react well to hibernate, and it would be a pain in the (*#)(@ to have to restart after lunch or every meeting. Suspend is a good middle ground. With something more disruptive, a company could well look at that and say "it's not worth the few minutes per day of productivity loss, when factored against the employee's salary + benefits cost." Especially if it leads to calls to your internal helpdesk to try to recover documents in progress or some other work. By the way, productivity vs. conservation is one of the reasons organizations need to be given incentives to conserve power if we want them to do it before energy prices actually exceed cost per hour of labor.

Re:Hibernate (1)

nikolag (467418) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118362)

Right, my company uses some 150 computers and they all cut monitor off after 15 minutes, and shut down or hibernate (depending on convinience of user) after 30-60 minutes.

About 20 stay always on go in sleep mode after 30 minutes. Six servers stay on always. The problems are 3 Xenon based servers and one device that is loced by vendor and can only be shut off or left on. Unfortunately, they control one device that uses up to 500kW in stand-by.

And there is no way pushing that vendor....

Re:Hibernate (1)

Oriumpor (446718) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118364)

There's no reason like substandard bearings to keep your system on the edge of power...

Or the fact that MS has never gotten hibernate/standby right...

Or the fact that many vendors components "say" they support standby mode, but don't...

Power the monitor off, sure.

But hibernate is just the same as powering off, only your HD gets a workout beforehand... So it actually ends up being worse for you than the already bad powering off and on.

Do you support wake-on-lan? (5, Interesting)

rmcd (53236) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118044)

I'm at a university and many of my colleagues leave their machines on overnight because they sometimes need access to their machine, either to retrieve a file or to run a program. If the IT folks provided everyone with a wake-on-lan script then everyone could turn off their machine. For years this has seemed to me like a no-brainer.

Is there some security or other downside I'm not aware of? Is WOL not reliable?

Re:Do you support wake-on-lan? (4, Interesting)

arth1 (260657) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118548)

WOL takes longer than the timeout period for many services (including, but not limited to WINS, and some windows networking components will take up to three quarters of an hour to recover if a service is initially reported as unavailable while the machine appears to be up).

Another concern is whether your servers are up to handling all the PCs coming on at once in the morning. People leaving Outlook running at all times is actually a Good Thing for IT, cause the alternative of thousands of people hitting the Exchange servers at the same minute would kneel even the biggest distributed servers. Then there's similar concerns for the domain controllers, DHCP servers, proxy servers, or you have it. Leaving a substantial part of the machine park already logged in can save a lot of hardware and configuring.
If shutting everything down, at least a staggered start-up could be prudent.

Re:Do you support wake-on-lan? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118550)

Is WOL not reliable?

I haven't tried it lately, but certainly a few years ago the answer to that was "no, it's not very reliable at all".

Why power down? (2, Informative)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118050)

We don't completety power down any of our desktop machines. Users log off in the evening, and machines go to standby/hibernate after enough time has elapsed. Thus, users do not have to wait in the morning till the machine boots.

Machines are woken from sleep to deploy updates, etc. Many of our desktops are able to accumulate 30 days of uptime before the next patchday.

Energy consumption is a non-issue. We don't pay much for electricity.

The rest of the infrastructure - printers, faxes, access points, etc. runs 24/7. Again, the complexity to shut them down would never be equal to the energy savings.

Re:Why power down? (4, Insightful)

mollymoo (202721) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118186)

Energy consumption is a non-issue. We don't pay much for electricity.

Reducing energy consumption isn't just about saving money, it's about not fucking up the planet too.

Re:Why power down? (-1, Flamebait)

lukas84 (912874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118270)

Reducing energy consumption isn't just about saving money, it's about not fucking up the planet too.


Sorry, i'm not a treehugger.

News for ya... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118054)

My Health Sciences Campus has about 8,000 desktop computers, and on any given night about half of them are left on.

"Health Sciences Campus" sounds like at least a few hundred of those are grad students and postdocs chained to their desks by their PIs...

I'm not sure whether your definition of "powering-down" includes sleep; it seems like reasonable default (or unchangeable) power settings should be adequate to address your concerns. Admittedly, that's easier done in a company than in the free-for-all of academic computing.

scripted per department (2, Interesting)

justanotherlinuxguy (1169913) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118080)

I did this a while back, the trick is some machines are 24/7 others are 9-5 ers. I coordinated with dept heads to identify what entire departments could be shut down then scripted a prompt to fire at 7:00pm to look for any user feedback, working late crowd, then 30 minutes later do a shutdown if no response was received. This took care of most machines. I never got to the mixed departments, greener pastures called.

Ping? (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118090)

Can you ping those machines? They may be sleeping but powering the NIC for WoL. That leaves them drawing very little power and immune to any IP-based attacks.

-Peter

Increased probability of HDD failure (2, Insightful)

methamorph (950510) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118096)

Shutting down at the end of the day and powering up the next morning increases the probability of HDD failure. It's better for the HDD to run all the time than to cold boot every morning.

Re:Increased probability of HDD failure (1)

ditoa (952847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118136)

We have had the exact opposite of this after implementing a shut down at night policy.

Re:Increased probability of HDD failure (1)

inajamaica (906275) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118252)

I shut and open the lid on my iBook (circa 2005) about 10 times a day. That's basically 10 cold-boots of the HDD, and it's still spinning just fine 3 years later. I'm not sure when energy savings converges with the price of a new HDD, but it seems to me that erroring on the side of conservation might not be a bad move.

If it really is bad to cold boot HDDs, then @ least we could promote turning monitors off @ the end of each day and for the weekend. I've tried to convince our small company to do that, but I walk around @ the end of the day when most people have left and nearly every single person leaves their monitor on. The unwillingness blows my mind.

Re:Increased probability of HDD failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118432)

This might seem like an odd question... but why use the @'s? I mean, you didn't abbreviate anything else. You saved 3 letters.

Re:Increased probability of HDD failure (1)

0racle (667029) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118286)

Proof? I always hear that shutting down at night is 'stressful' for the hardware but no one ever provides proof. It is always just presented as one of those "Duh, everyone knows that."

We have power down at night policy (5, Insightful)

ditoa (952847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118098)

I work for a large blue chip company and we have a strict policy of powering down at night (including monitor). We regularly audit the records to ensure the machine is powered down and users who are not are requested to always remember. A few users take a few reminders in order to do so and I have heard every excuse under for why they left it on and while some are valid the majority (95%) are not. Our reasons for pushing this policy is purely to save money and reduce unnecessary running time of the equipment. However we are in a position where only laptops users have VPN access so if they need to login to the network from home they already have their laptop with them. If we had open VPN access to desktop users I am sure we would see a lot of users leaving their computer on so that they can RDP into it over VPN.

It took about 6 months before we were at a realistic level. We have 633 desktops on our site so there is normally always a valid reason for one or two to be left on (valid reasons being batch copy, verify or processing of files). For those interested we have had a reduction in the amount of equipment failure (HDD mainly) as well as pretty good cost savings for power. Not to mention running greener (which regardless of if you believe in global warming or not is good).

Re:We have power down at night policy (2, Interesting)

cnettel (836611) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118202)

Just a thought: the (supposed) increased failure rate for HDDs wouldn't come within 6 months. During the first period, it's instead perfectly reasonable that the reduced number of power-on hours decreases the calendar-based failure rate. The interesting issue is whether your HDD failure rates increases significantly within a 1-3 year timeframe.

Re:We have power down at night policy (4, Informative)

ditoa (952847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118256)

Sorry I should have clarified. It took 6 months to implement but we have had the policy for a little over 4 years now.

Why should this be the users' problem? (1)

tonyyarusso (969630) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118100)

Regardless of what you want to have happen, the machines should be configured to do it by the system administrator, rather than naively hoping that users will do it on their own. If you use part of the night to do backups and updates, configure them to turn off after that - it doesn't take the _entire_ night. If you want to go with the arguments about wear on the machines, you can at the very least suspend to RAM and save quite a bit of power, without even adding startup time in the morning (although you could WOL all of them right before office hours anyway).

My company does (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118106)

The company I work for uses a program on each machine to shut it down at 7pm unless the user is there to push a button to stop it, it is then turned back on at 6am (using Wake On Lan I assume). PCs are of course left off on weekends and holidays as well. It is possible for a user to request an exemption if the PC is used for computing tasks that need to run over night/weekends.

Power vs. operational (4, Insightful)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118134)

I tend to leave the computer on overnight, but with things like monitor power-down and CPU idling enabled. When it's not doing anything it drops about 90% of it's power consumption after 15 minutes, and even when working with the monitor off (eg. running the nightly backup) it's still running at less than 50% of full power. If I power it off, by comparison, it can't run it's virus scan, backup, update check and the like overnight and has to do those things while I'm trying to use it during the day. Plus there's wear and tear to consider, I've noticed that the office computers that get turned off and on every day tend to fail and need replacing several times before mine (that stays on all the time) has a failure.

So my preference is to leave computers running but with power-saving features set to minimize power without shutting things down. This means hard drives continue to spin but the CPU goes into low-power idle mode. The monitor goes to suspend mode (beam and deflection power is off but the circuits and coils are kept warm), not powered-down completely. That seems to be the best balance between reducing power consumption, allowing it to run maintenance operations overnight and minimizing wear and tear and thermal stress on the components. If management absolutely insists on ignoring those last two in favor of the first, wake-on-LAN is essential to allow nightly maintenance to happen.

Re:Power vs. operational (1)

Simon (S2) (600188) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118312)

but with things like monitor power-down and CPU idling enabled. When it's not doing anything it drops about 90% of it's power consumption

What computer do you have? You could have a very bad Monitor that draws a very lot of power, or you have a relly good computer that is able to use only 10% of it's usual power consumption in idle. Let me say that the usual desktop pc may use about 20% less power when in idle, and when that is the case, it's already a relay good drop.

Re:Power vs. operational (1)

Todd Knarr (15451) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118552)

Work's using Dell and HP mini-desktops. The main thing is that most of the office systems still use big clunky CRTs that literally draw almost as much power as the computer itself does going full-out. We're slowly replacing those with LCDs, but my guess is it's going to be another 2-3 years before we see the last of the monitors go out the door.

I used to turn my machine off at night ... (4, Insightful)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118154)

... but now IT has loaded so much crap on it ("desktop agents" [ie apps that spy on me], antivirus, patches, etc) that it is fully 15-20 minutes after turning it on before it is usable. So now I never turn it off. I did the hibernation thing for awhile, but then it stopped working for some reason and I haven't been able to fix it. And if I ask IT to fix it, their solution is always the same for every problem - wipe the machine - a tad inconvenient for me, but pretty efficient for them I suppose. Sigh.

Productivity Impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118158)

For many users, there is a productivity loss upon reboot (beyond just the time waiting for it to boot). The reason is that the arrangement of open apps, documents, and so forth, contains "information" about what they are currently working on. This includes things like open web-pages, rough notes in a text document (that the user may never save), and the specific position of windows. Having to reboot means the user must save all this data (including saving a browser session, etc.), and re-organize things when the computer comes back online. Having a computer reboot without a user expecting it can ruin a certain amount of their work and organization... In much the same way that "organizing" a person's desk by clearing all their (messy?) stacks of papers into a filing cabinet can kill their productivity.

Now, having said all that, you may say "tough crap! The user should learn to save all their files and re-open them the next morning." The question, from a company standpoint, is whether the energy savings are worth the impact on user productivity.

As others have pointed out, sleep and hibernate functions are a better middle-ground. (It would also be cool if Windows could actually remember the arrangement of open apps in your session, like KDE does.)

Software solution (1)

ME-tan (995456) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118174)

We're currently rolling out software to shut down all our machines enterprise wide if they are left logged off, or if users do not respond to a prompt after 7PM. The main reason for doing this is saving power. There are AD groups for certain machines that need to be excepted from this as we have developers and such that do overnight compiles and so on. Seems to be one of those rare good ideas the company has done.

oh yeah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118176)

Since I pay 2,2Kr(0,4$?) pr Kilowatt, I turn of everything I don't use.
At work, we are told to turn the PCs off when we go home, but I mostly leave my Lenovo T60 on since the login procedure with all it scripts takes 5 minutes.
They have someone who walks around from time to time and place stickers on the machines, after work hours, if the machine was left on.
But I still leave it on though, because of the incredible long boot / login time.

Wake on LAN (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118198)

It shouldn't be necessary to leave machines up and running all the time just to be able to push updates or run virus scans (etc., etc.). That's what Wake-On-LAN [wikipedia.org] is for. It allows you to put a computer to sleep, then wake it remotely when it is specifically addressed to (say, by a remote administrator). Sure, it needs to be hardware supported on the motherboard, and the BIOS needs to be set up just so, but it isn't that hard to implement on a new machine that you need to configure for the company anyway.

I wanted to set up Wake-on-LAN on my work computer - so that I could put it to sleep, but still access a shared drive when I was away from the desk or remoting from home. I got zero help from IT - the first two people I spoke to hadn't even heard of it. I guess they didn't want one oddball network device out of 40,000 on campus.

Any sysadmins want to chime in on the pros and cons of implementing Wake-On-LAN company-wide?

Re:Wake on LAN (1)

kitgerrits (1034262) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118382)


Keep in mind, that WOL is not always as compatible as you might think.
From my experience, WOL works on about 30% of all workstations.
The rest seem to simply ignore incoming requests.

I used to be able to power up my PC at home from a FreeBSD machine at the office, by using a VPN router.
Now, I can't even get my workstation (new motherboard/NIC) to start up when it's in the same room, on the same switch.
Yes, I have checked the MAC address.
Yes, I have enabled WOL in the BIOS.
Yes, I have tried it with boot ROM enabled and disabled.
Yes, I have enabled WOL in the Windows driver
Yes, It is set to 'Magic Packet'

No, it will not start up.

This is America, guy... (-1, Troll)

Simonetta (207550) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118224)

This is America, guy...

  The risk of getting fired because you spend five to ten minutes getting your computer to boot in the morning is FAR more important than the waste of millions of kilowatt hours of electricity. People's HEALTH CARE, credit card payments, and mortgages depend on the whim of the corporate head office. When they need to lay-off the next round of 20000 employees to protect their own personal $20,000,000 performance bonus and golden parachute, they are going to look at things like whose PC boots on last in the office each morning in order to decide who to 'let go'.

    Anyone in America who thinks something like saving energy is actually important has to be an under-30 recent grad or new hire. Forgive them, they don't have a clue about how things actually work in the corporate working world.

I have been told they turn off overnight in Japan (3, Interesting)

hax4bux (209237) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118262)

Among other projects, I worked on the power supply controls for the Cray Super Dragon. No, you probably never heard of it, but it became the Sun ES-10K.

This box had variable voltage power supples which required me to adjust them from cold start. I had to calibrate A/D, take samples, tweak, etc all through JTAG and cumulatively it was quite slow. Like over an hour.

My manager was not impressed, I shrugged and said "who turns these off?" - and the marketing droid/product manager said "they do in Japan". Fine. The hardware people were nice enough to give me multiple JTAG lines and power up time shrank to acceptable limits.

I have never been certain if this was a "Spinal Tap" riff or it was really true.

Studies? (1)

stormguard2099 (1177733) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118266)

Does anyone know of any studies about HDD and other hardware failure rates when powering down as opposed to sleep/hibernation/etc? It seems like everyone has their own antecdotal evidence but I haven't seen anyone show any kind of proof beyond that about what is actually best for the hardware.

Do it yourself, or scare them into doing it... (1)

um_atrain (810963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118274)

I'm a part time administrator for a small school computer lab, as well as the full time job of maintaining my family computers. (My family manages to click on the stupidest things...) The nice part about having full admin access to the lab is I can have the machines shut down automatically at a set time, and standby often. Users have no control over the settings, and there is minimal argument over it. However, the second you give the user any freedom, then they will start monkeying with the settings. More often than not, users are extremely impatient, and don't want to wait for the computer to get out of standby and then have to log in. They like the machine to be sitting there, ready to use.

I think a nice method of showing users how much they are saving is by making a small script that takes the system uptime, the known power usage of the computer, and the going electrical rate, and showing how many $$'s have been used by leaving the computer on. Or, for bigger institutions rather than individuals, translate that into how many trees or whatever have been destroyed. (Even if there is no correlation, make one up. Users are stupid.)

Another option is either thin embedded machines during off hours (so they can do web browsing etc, but not wasting the big wattage) or just equip the computers w/those motherboards that have instant-on linux distros, with firefox. 9/10 times people use computer labs are for the internet anyways, if 90% of computers in labs were power efficient terminals, this would be such a trivial problem.

Waste not, want not.. (4, Interesting)

Ancil (622971) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118302)

I worked for a very large (top-3) pharmaceutical for years. They always asked employees to shut off their computers at night when they went home.

Then one day, they sent out a campus-wide email telling people to leave their computers on all night and over the weekend. They used the CPU cycles to run high-performance scientific computing jobs, saving the cost of buying a supercomputer.

Of course, not every company has a need for spare CPU cycles. This place did a lot of protein-shape searches etc..

What is so discusting about bing green. (2, Insightful)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118310)

In the comments and original message there are the following: -- Aside from the current fad of 'being green' -- -- I won't go into the green topic. -- -- nor any desire to "go green" -- In general this "community" is a group of technically minded people who are not opposed to putting science ahead of PR and marketing. Why on earth would such a group be so afraid of something because it is green. We all have to share the planet and I'm guessing most of us are not becoming billionaires by destroying it, so why is it such a problem for so many of you.

OK, so I can't spell (1)

richardkelleher (1184251) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118360)

I realized just as I clicked that the subject had a misspelled word in it. Unfortunately, clicking on stop doesn't stop the processing on the server, just the client and there is no way to edit once something is posted that I know of, so we all have to look at discusting instead of disgusting. Deal with it...

Windows GPO to sleep the monitors (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118316)

We're implementing a GPO to actually sleep the monitors instead of activating a screensaver. You need the PCs on for autoupdates, WOL is a nice idea but isn't reliable.

workstations by day, cluster by night (4, Interesting)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118320)

The CS department at the college I went to used to turn off all the PCs at night but now has them set up to start doing scientific calculations during the times when the labs are closed. They use power during this time, but it's not wasted.

Re:workstations by day, cluster by night (1)

sydbarrett74 (74307) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118402)

The CS department at the college I went to used to turn off all the PCs at night but now has them set up to start doing scientific calculations during the times when the labs are closed. They use power during this time, but it's not wasted.
At a university (which typically isn't profit-driven), one can get away with this. But the CEO of a for-profit enterprise is going to ask, 'SETTI@Home? What's in it for us?' Simpl do-goodism isn't sufficient. Until most of these distributed computing projects implement some form of micropayment mechanism to compensate at the very least for energy usage, most businesses have no profit motive to let their systems stay on all night searching for the Goonaks from the planet Volkos.

Re:workstations by day, cluster by night (4, Insightful)

anno1602 (320047) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118524)

Well, in a university, "scientific calculations" could mean actually running simulations/models/whatever, that is, things for which you would normally use some super computer. So it is not necessarily a question of "getting away with this", it might make perfect operational sense and boost the uni's available computational power and thus productivity. Depending on what industry you work in, you could do a similar thing in a company, for example a nightly distributed build-and-extensive-regression-test in a software shop, and save on purchasing and operating dedicated computers. There are lots of quite productive uses for distributed computing. You just need to think about what your company might do with it. Of course, if there is no productive thing the computers could be doing, they are better turned off.

how much power do the they consume? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118324)

An interesting question is how much power does the computer consume when its monitor is switched off, and the harddisk is idle or spun down? Is it large enough to make a serious dent in the organization's energy bill?

Remote access (2, Insightful)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118352)

I leave my computer on for a couple reasons. One is that if I'm in the middle of doing something and its time to call it a day, its easier to resume that if I leave everything as is. The second is that I may get paged to fix something and would need to remotely log into my computer from home, which requires it to be on.

I suppose if you could find a way to remotely hibernate a computer and remotely unhibernate it then you could potentially save on the electric bill.

Re:Remote access (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118406)

How about "Wake On Lan?" :) I don't know anyone who's actually set that usefully on their PC.

But yeah, 5 minutes of start-up time in the AM is practically a minimum now that I'm on a laptop. It costs the company $5-$10 for me to sit and watch my computer boot, versus $1-$2 for 100 watts for 14 hours of off time.

What about lost time in the morning ? (1)

xadhoom (135241) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118376)

This's very interesting, but there's another point.

Being in a hw and sw developer company, our desktop are always full with compiler, debuggers and all sort of stuff a heavy developer runs to do his work.
Shutting down means that we must spend at least 10/15 minutes in the morning to have all the desktop setup as was the day before.

how that can impact? I know that there's suspend and hibernate but due to hw issues (and OS issue, if using linux and we do), not always
is possible...

The Green fad, is just that... marketing nonsense. (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118394)

Its a shame that companies really dont believe in what they say... but what do you expect... its business.

There are some real true green efforts out there by a handful of the tech companies but in reality... Green is just being tossed around to make everyone feel good about themselves.

Nothing was more ridiculous than watching NBC turn off their studio lights during their halftime show of a football game, claiming "NBC is going green"

Trying to get there.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22118396)

I studied this recently for our company. We have about 5000 machines in our organization. It is a relatively easy thing to do, especially with a management system in place (Landesk, Altiris, Kaseya, even just AD in this case). 90+% of the machines do not need to be on 24/7, and it saves lots of money (I care for the environment, but seems like they only care about money). My suggestion was to tackle the PCs first, but also immediately focus on automating HVAC and lighting afterwards. There would truly be a market for a small robust wireless interface that could integrate with existing infrastructure to allow for remote server control. Think Zwave, X10, Insteon, but more secure and reliable in commercial buildings. Just stick them in line with your thermostats and lighting circuit breakers and you're set. But everything out there is too expensive to implement. It's a shame really, lighting and A/C that stays on all night... Each trumps the power usage of our collective PCs by a lot.

I power down all the time (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118404)

I always power down my systems at night. have worked in companies where no one else does this. I have even had coworkers chide me for doing this. I even power down my Macs, instead of putting them to sleep. I am not an environmentalist or "greenie", but I do have enough brain cells to realize that electricity costs money. If you computer is on it is using power.

I left several boxes on this weekend (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118408)

Being a couple on my desk, and a few in a remote rack, so that when I get to the office tomorrow morning the results of the carefully prepared Sunday midnight run will be available for me to debug. It takes several hours to prepare this experiment, and there wasn't time to run it on Friday night before I went home, and I didn't want to risk the logs cycling far enough to destroy the evidence. (Yes I can fiddle with the log settings, but the more things I fiddle with the further my experient is from what happens in the field and the less likely I am to catch some real behaviour.)

But usually I switch things off, I'm not one of these willy-waving "my OS stays up longer than yours" plonkers.

If you own a mac.... (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118418)

System Preferences -> Energy Saver -> Schedule, if you want to save more energy than sleep mode, yet still have your machine ready to go when you get to your desk in the morning.

Almost any mac with "soft" power has had the capability to do timer-based power-on (and power-off, which is cancelled if you have any unsaved work or an application otherwise won't quit on its own.)

Also, waking up from sleep mode is virtually instantaneous on most Macs. Just watch for mounted filesystems to netatalk servers. "Real" AFP servers handle clients sleeping and reconnecting, netatalk never has. Also, occasionally a machine won't fully wake up, particularly if you use the "require password to wake" feature; try sleeping the machine and waking it again (only works on portables, of course.)

Are you *NUTS?!?!?!?* (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118448)

That'd cut into my [InsertList]

[InsertList]
1: Distributed.net
2: Folding@Home
3: SETI@Home
4: Gaming
5: PR0N.
[/InsertList]

late hours workers & long CPU jobs (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118458)

Our network has project data distributed all over various workstations, and we have people on various projects at work very late or logging in from home to check on things. Ican't turn off my workstation because my supervisor's remote login session runs on it, and he does stuff at home after his kids go to sleep. I can't turn off my workstation because there's project data stored there that may be needed or updated "after hours", as well as for long computer jobs that can't be suspended and restarted partway through, and part of these longrunning jobs is to do them overnight so they're complete in the morning, or complete in 3 days instead of 9 days with the workers doing nothing while they wait those longer times. Not all situations even allow turning things off to be very practical.

We do (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118486)

We power down every night. The Dell desktops we use all come with wake-up functionality built into the BIOS. Wake-on LAN is another option. The BIOS is set to boot up all computers at 8:00, with automatic updates set for 8:10. Everyone else gets in around 8:20 (office opens at 8:30). The printers all hibernate automatically. During the day they go into low-power mode after about 30 minutes of activity, after 6 p.m., they do so after about 5 minutes. I turn off lights before leaving, too (I'm the first one in and last one out most days).

We can't. (1)

strredwolf (532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118522)

Backups and system updates happen at night, a requirement of (state governmental) department policy. Folks who do shut down at night to save power (the argument isn't valid, since it's bought wholesale and in bulk in advance)... well, I can't say what they do to them.

Small businesses can contribute too. (1)

Cancel-Or-Allow (1073192) | more than 6 years ago | (#22118532)

I service 10 to 15 small businesses each with 10-30 computers. When I have my meeting with them I suggest ways to save them money. One of them is powering off computers at night, and using the builtin power save features. Most users are annoyed with the 20 minute default so I compromise. I set it to 90. This is so when an employee returns from lunch their computer is still running and they are none the wiser and have no reason to panic. If they forget to turn it off at night, the screen and hdd spin down at 90 minutes and the computer goes to standby 30 minutes later. I have experimented with hibernation, but found that every once in a while a computer will go in to a coma, so for now I don't implement it.
For computers that have no specific user (shared) I schedule a task to run at 7pm shutdown.exe -f -s -t 900 -c "Nightly shutdown has begun. blah blah blah"
Then have the server send a magic packet to them in the morning right before people begin to show up.
I have not had a single complaint.

In desert climates such as AZ there are more benefits than just saving power. These mid and mini tower computers turn into hightech digital air filters and ingest a lot of dust. Having them go into standby or power off lessens the dust storm when doing quarterly maintenance with the air compressor.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...