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Windows 7: Is leaving your computer on all the time (24/7) better for hard drive?

03 Oct 2012   #1

Windows 7 64bit
Is leaving your computer on all the time (24/7) better for hard drive?

Although this is not a current predicament, I would like to some input on this question.

Before my old hard drive went dead this past August, I got these messages that said problems where detected in the Hard Disk. As well as whenever I use to turn on and turn off my computer I would usually be greeted by a black screen with a wall of text usually ending with the option "Press F1 to Continue." I have a photo these message, but since this question is more for curiousity, I stall only post them if someone in here asks to see them.

I was told by someone in my family that it's better for a computer's hard drive and the computer itself to be running all the time (24/7) as turning it off actually does more harm or drains more energy out of the Hard Drive. However I find this statement to be incredibly debateable as while I was doing this, about a month later I was shown another blackscreen a month later that said a short message and to "press any key to continue," which did nothing but continue posting that same message.

Although a new hard drive was placed on about 2 months, just in case such a thing happens to me again... Is this statement true? Is it better for a computer to be left running all the time, or is it just better to turn it off whenever your done using it, like I have been done since getting my hard drive replaced?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #2

Windows 7 Professional 64bit SP1

I have absolutely no facts to back up this statement, except for first hand experience. In 3+ years, besides restarting for updates, I can count on 1 hand how many times I manually shut down my PC. It was left running day and night unless I shut it down because it was storming. Knock on wood, I've never had a HDD fail. Sometimes, hard drives fail for no apparent fact, 99% of drive failures are for an unknown reason. The other 1% is because it was dropped or mishandled in some way. I think this may be the same debate as to whether it conserves gas to let a car idle for a period of time vs shutting it down and starting it up when you are ready to go.

Either way, sometimes you just get a bad drive, or a drive that has a premature failure that has nothing to do with power on hours. Also, just because your system is on doesn't mean your HDD is actually being hit for data......I think you'd be fine to leave it running....but like I said, I have no hard proof.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #3
Layback Bear

Windows 7 Pro. 64/SP-1

With todays hard drives I don't think it matters.
Kbrady leaves his/her computer on and I turn my computer when not in use. It is just a personnel choice. To me turning a computer off when not in use is like turning the lights in a room off when you are not in that room. Gone 2 hours the computer and lights are off for 2 hours. Most hard drives live a long time doing it Kbrady's way or my way.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Oct 2012   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 Home Premium SP1, 64-bit

This has been debated on this forum before, as well as other forums.

You aren't likely to find a large scale authoritative study of the issue.

I shut down maybe 500 times a year---mostly to save power and to avoid the slight noise of PCs---rather than for reasons of "wear and tear".

There may be something to the idea that the surge of electricity when starting has some negative effect on component life, but I have seen no proof beyond allegations.

On the other hand, moving mechanical parts generally benefit from not moving and that may apply to the bearings in your hard drive.

I probably wouldn't restart 8 or 10 times a day, but have no evidence it's harmful.

Your drive issues may well be unrelated. Drives may have a tendency to fail early---if you can get past the first month, it may last 10 years.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #5

Windows 7 32 bit

I've owned many PCs from XT Clone, to 486, to Pentium III, a couple of Pentium IV, and now AMD multi-core systems. From 65 MB HD all the way up to 750 GB system disks, I've never had one fail.

I would agree the main culprit would be a drop. If you have a reason to run 24/7 such as running a server, then leave them running. Otherwise I see no reason, unless you are running an overnight video conversion or other job, to leave the system up all the time.

If you start to see disk errors or retries and want to keep the drive going to the last second, then in that case I think I'd leave it running once it's spun up.

If the drive is bad it probably got hosed during handling(dropped) rather than by starting/stopping.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #6

Win-7 H-Prem-x64 Linux-M-Mate-x64

i use sleep mode when i am home. if i know i am going to be gone for any length of time i turn it off.. just in case a bad storm rolls in or something i rather be safe the come home or wake up to a fried computer....
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #7

Windows 10 Pro. EFI boot partition, full EFI boot

No it isn't better really. I think it comes from disk drive problems are revealed when power cycling them, though the problem is there regardless.

I have 2 1TB WDC Black drives each with over 5000 power cycles and 7000 load/unload (head park) with no issues.

At work we have servers that once they boot up and programs are loaded, basically run out of RAM and don't access the disk. We have had some running with an uptime over a year only to find that the disk was shot, for who knows how long, when we rebooted them. Semi-relevant LOL.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #8

Windows 7 Professional SP1 - x64 [Non-UEFI Boot]

A bad habits that could fail a hard drive might be also from erasing constantly at the same sector, because not filling up or empty the data on the drive could let some markers.

Perhaps some basics hard drives are not made to stay 24/7 spinning as dedicated ones for NAS or Pvr/Dvr Streaming audio/video with intelliPark fonction.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Oct 2012   #9


Since they've been perfected in Win7, consider using the modern Sleep>Hibernate function.

It allows you to walk away from the PC without worrying about shutting it down if you are gone for an hour or a week. If you set it to sleep at 30-60 minutes it will reawake instantly if you come back.

If you then set it to hibernate an hour or two later, it writes what you left on the desktop to the HD and shuts down all power. However it is actually only in a resume state so that it starts twice as fast next time and puts everything back on the desktop where you left it. What's not to like?

In addition I'd use Hybrid sleep so Sleep itself also writes to the HD to back up your data in case of a power failure.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Oct 2012   #10


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by ignatzatsonic View Post
This has been debated on this forum before, as well as other forums.

You aren't likely to find a large scale authoritative study of the issue.
The general consensus always tends to be that it's 50/50 on whether it's good or bad too.

There are pros and cons to both methods. But the out come is that as an end user, you can be as equally confident of reliability no matter how you use your drive.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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