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back to article Leaving PCs on costing UK business millions

A third of business computers in the UK are left switched on overnight, costing British businesses more than £300m a year in extra electricity bills. In the US the situation is even worse - half of corporate computers are left on overnight. This is costing US firms some $2.8bn a year. Leaving machines on overnight and at …

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Anonymous Coward

I make it £18.40 a year.

30 Watts * 365 days * 14 hours * 12 pence per KW.

However, you then have to take off the amount of extra heating of your office, which is about a third. This reduces is to £12.25.

At minimum wage £5.73 this equates to a whopping 128 minutes 16 seconds a year, or 34.98 seconds a working day. So if you have to wait for 35 seconds a day for a boot, you've lost money.

Marvellous.

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@AC @@Paul

> "It just seems like a soding lazy IT department. "

> Er - you try manually deploying a patch to 10,000 PCs, between 8pm and 6am.

Or try doing it during office hours when people are trying to work.

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Jobs Halo

@ TeeCee

My Gawd!!

I knew MS was bad at power management but this is ridiculous! I've always feared at trying to put my machine at work to standby or sleep or hibernate or power down. I think under Vista (home) there are 6 different ways.

Macs: Restart, Sleep, Cancel, Shut down.

There is a stand-by then sleep -like when you walk away and forget- that's low power and sleep is even lower. When I've had enough, without quitting, I push a button on the back (or wipe my hand across the Cube) and walk away, 2 seconds, Sleep. Tap the keys, 4 seconds, awake full power. Continue.

Laptops: just close the lid; sleep. Open lid, full power.

Boot Camp: Vista -it is wise that nothing is running. I push a button on the back, wait to make sure -because sometimes, it needs a cuddle- and when the screen goes black, you walk away: hibernate; that's about 20 seconds. Tap the keys, about 6 seconds, awake full power. Then you have to go back into your program(s) and that takes some time.

MS (and the companies that work under that umbrella) haven't a concept of being power conservative for the typical individual or work-place user: You either leave it on and wait for the queer episodes the next morning knowing that it may have loaded something without you knowing... or take your chances.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/555569/en-us

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Alert

Serial processing?

@most of you

Where's Sarah Bee when you need her?

What a bunch of stereotypical blokes.

So, if your computer were switched off, and you had to switch it on, you have nothing else to do but watch it? What happened to e.g., take coat off, get coffee, open lab book, catch up on a couple of phone calls, dig out your working papers (I've hear about the paperless office, show me one) catch up on office grapevine with colleagues... all the other things that I've forgotten

A N Other-Bloke

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Anonymous Coward

hahha

My work pc boots up nice and quick, so its not ms, but i also don't have a load of corperate scripts that load at startup, again, those things are not MS, but your company. Occasionaly i have to reboot for updates, to the people who complain about that, its for OS safety reasons, fiddling with stuff thats currently in use might just cause curroption! Oh and to the person who moaned about his pc not shutting down, how about staying 1 min longer and seeing WHY it didn't shut down instead of bitching off at MS, as it was likely a 3rd party program that caused it

I am starting to think that most of the "it professionals" on here are actually fat guys in there bedrooms who have never actually used a MS machine, but heard from there mates that its a bad thing so they have to hate it!

Knew it would only be a matter of time before ms was blamed tho, this place is become more and more like a collection of daily mail readers, just have to swap "microsoft" with "immigrants" and its about right.

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Happy

Automating Standby / Hibernate

Here are two free tools that may help:

http://www.grc.com/wizmo/wizmo.htm

(Command is wizmo standby or wizmo hibernate)

http://www.snapfiles.com/get/idlemonitor.html

(Watches mouse idle time, but to use with wizmo you need to make a batch file as this freeware is a little dumb.)

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Weirdos

Who the hell sits and watches their PC boot up in the morning? You boring bastards. Hit "On", go to the kettle and make the cup of tea that you were going to make. Talk to your colleagues, find out what's going on.

It is possible to work with out a computer being on, you know. You all are just looking for excuses. There's more "loss of productivity" attributable to dancing cats falling down stairs.

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Unhappy

@TeeCee

Excellent - that's a partial solution and could help if some places, but I also want to pro grammatically switch off once task are done (ideal at work for over the w/end)

Now, how to test and see if other things are running and only power down when safe?

How to tell Media Center to power down if safe?

I do thank you for your suggestion, but it is not possible to do decent power management cleanly in Windows.

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IT Angle

You are IT people, right?

Really, this is an IT site, some of the luser comments are very disturbing...

To the lost productivity crowd: Try setting a scheduled task to turn on the computer before you get into the office.

WOL won't work on wireless: see above

My machines is never right when it starts up: Your IT, right? Investigate, find the root cause, fix it!

Hibernate does not work: Your IT, right? Investigate, find the root cause, fix it! Most likely it is some crap in-house application that you are using that was not written well. Or you failed to get off a VPN tunnel.

Where is AManFromMars, he could put good perspective on this

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Paris Hilton

There's a lot of bilge being spewed here

I work for a company with about 200 employees scattered over a dozen locations in 6 different states. I'm the IT manager (read sole IT person) for our company. There are probably 50 desktops and a dozen laptops for users, with a half-dozen servers. (email, phone system, data archiving, file server, terminal server, etc). We're running Active Directory and a mix of Windows 2000, 2003, and 2003 64-bit on our servers.

We run a mix of computers, about 40% Vista the rest XP, and one lone 98SE machine that runs a piece of hardware. We use a combination of home-brew software, third-party software, and MS Office. No, we don't use Exchange. :)

Our machines (both Vista *and* XP) take anywhere from 1-2 minutes to go from cold to logged in and ready to use--and we're using mostly $500 and under desktops!

We keep our systems running overnight during the week and shut down unused systems on the weekends (except dispatch which runs 18/7). Overnight all systems get updates downloaded and critical patches applied automatically (OS and AV). Servers download (but don't apply) patches, perform backup, and other housekeeping.

The Vista machines perform defragging and all the other housekeeping needed by the OS. Been slowly replacing XP Pro with Vista Business as machines need replacing. (Powerspec is your friend. Cheap, reliable, and good performance with about a 5-6 year lifespan).

My company's PCs are trouble-free, autopatching has never caused me any problems. Our users tend toward the computer-illiterate end of the scale, if there's a problem I'm the one they come to. That means I hear *every* problem. :) I'm also the person who goes and buys the computer when one is needed.

So all you whiners cry me a river. Your IT departments obviously don't know what they're doing if your systems take 15+ minutes to come up/shut down. There's *no* excuse for that.

For the posters commenting that rolling out patches overnight is lazy--no, it isn't. It's an efficient use of a computer's off-peak time--and my time. It's what Windows (especially Vista) is designed to do.

Couple that with solid hardware, the bare minimum of user education (hey, log off before you go home, 'kay?) a sane group policy (like run as standard user, don't let users install software without approval, clear IE's cache on exit, etc, etc) and a weather eye from yours truly and you get trouble-free computing.

I'm not saying I'm in some Fortune 500, our company is fairly small as corporations go. But since I'm the only IT person needed to keep us functional I'd say my methods work, and work well.

Constant crashes? 15+ minutes from cold start to working? Egads.

Paris, because it's obvious she must be running 99% of Reg readers IT departments...

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BIOS autostart

I leave my PC on all through Monday to Friday and switch it off at the weekend. Main reason is so that all the apps and documents are left in the same state and position when I arrive so I can remember what I was up to the day before. After a weekend, I can't remember anyway so might as well shut it down.

Many PCs have a BIOS option to switch it on automatically at a set time. On mine I have it set to start up about an hour before I usually get in on weekdays only, which means on Monday morning the PC is waiting for me to log myself in when I get there. As a bonus it lets me avoid the company-wide enforced weekly virus scan, which grinds the machine to a halt for an hour, because that happens before I arrive. If I'm away on holiday, I unplug the machine so it doesn't wake up at all.

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Boffin

The right answers

As many have pointed out, the economic cost of losing ten minutes work time each day closing, shutting down, rebooting and re-opening, is vastly higher than the wasted electricity. And much of the electricity isn't actually wasted, because 8 months each year it's heating an environment that needs heating anyway. And then there's the environmental cost of replacing a PC that failed earlier because of the daily power surge inflicted on it.

The right answers lie with the hardware manufacturers, some of whom are already making steps towards reducing power consumption. What we need, is a really good stand-by mode. Not hibernate or suspend, but a CPU that can slow down to say 5% of its normal speed, and reduce its power consumption by 95% when it does so. Also more efficient PSUs,that don't just burn power when the CPU isn't using it. Also solid-state rather than rotating disks that don't eat much power when not being accessed. Many of these things are beginning to happen, but a regulatory kick to make them mandatory on all new PCs would help. (Especially with the PSUs, where an extra tenner is a very hard sell).

But the worst offenders are not office PCs. They are much greater numbers of hi-fis, TVs, VCRs, DVDs, mobile phone chargers, microwaves, wireless phones, ... yes, and PC monitors, all sitting in standby eating a watt or three 24x365 when with a little bit of decent engineering and a small increase in cost, they could all be using mere microwatts. And traffic lights, most of which still use kilowatts of halogen bulbs per road, even though LEDs are perfect and would save at least 80% of the power. The ones that you can't replace by mini-roundabouts, that is.

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Flame

You have to get to the end before you can make a conclusion...

Lovely how everyone seems to forget that power usage is not constant. The power consumption required to cold boot a computer is substantially more than the regular consumption rate. It initially requires a large amount of power to flood the required circuits. After that, the computer boots while running with no power saving options, until the computer is fully running. Only then, does the computer begin to settle into its regular power consumption rate.

The USAF made it a requirement many years ago that personell should NOT turn off their computers overnight, as the actual power consumption was higher. Monitors were still to be turned off overnight. I believe that's been updated to allow computers to be turned off during the weekends now.

Also, modern computers continue to draw power even when "turned off." Though this usage is admitedly very small.

For those people above who haven't figured out how to automate shutting down/hibernating a Windows computer, MS offers the lovely built in command line program called.......shutdown It has lots of options. Its worked for years. Try it out.

A better study would compare the total power consumption of a set of computers when left on overnight, to the consumption if they're put to sleep, to the consumption if they're put in hibernate, to the consumption when they're completely turned off. Of course, a company could always try this in house to see what happens.

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Anonymous Coward

Some win, some lose

Attention-grabbing headline, but utter tosh.

Think of the fall in revenue lost by the 'leccy companies if everyone switched their PC off.

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Stop

Perfect solution

One of the secretaries switches on all four (yes four) computers as soon as she arrives, then goes and makes the tea. Machines are up and running when needed. No time wasted at all.

At the end of the day the machines are logged out by a different person who then goes and does all the washing up etc. checks doors/windows and kills the main power. Again no time wasted.

People talking about startup/shutdown surges obviously have no clue about how modern power supplies are designed.

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The neverending argument

I'm for leaving my PCs running, but won't go foaming at the mouth if you want to turn yours off. The one argument that the "turn it off" folks never seem to address is the increased hardware failure rates when they are turned off. I've had the same experience an earlier poster has. I've never had a PC die when powered up. I've had plenty die when trying to power them up.

Look at it this way. If increased CO2 emissions concern you more than hardware failure, the boot up wait time allows you to hug more bunnies. It's a win-win!

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S3

Simple, really.

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Flame

Sleeping the monitors is the biggest saver

We leave our machines on overnight because they end up being used for number crunching.

We still save 75% on power by making sure the monitors are switched off.

As for the moaning about slow startups: WOL and a machine poll ~1 hour before startup will have machines ready for use each morning (as will using the bios wakeup timer on every PC manufactured since 1996)

Flame - we have a nice 500kW backup UPS for the building. Overloading it is "not advised"

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Point is...

Leaving your computer on all night is as stupid as leaving your TV on all night, its just a waste of power - if your not using it turn the bloody thing off!!!

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Boot by clock with bois settings

Why not take some looking around in the bois and set the computers to boot up 20 minutes before workers arrive. I did that here on a few power user machines who complained about having to boot their pcs in the morning after I shut them down the night before.

A few pcs I also added a shutdown /s /c "use start, run, shutdown /a to abort shutdown" to task scheduler around 6 pm on a few pcs that are always left on.

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Serious about consumption?

If you really want to save energy, run laptops instead of desktops!

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Pirate

Or, you could do this...

At the bank I work at, machines are automatically shut down late in the evening, and started up automatically at about 07:00. No waiting for the thing to boot or shut down - it all happens by itself.

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shutdown -r >:)

Average single computer today running 24/7 costs about 43 quid a year.

Average single business 2 computers 1 server.

Average single computer cost runnin 9/5 - according to electricty company - 43 quid a year.

Hmmz.

Average lifespan of HDD always on 3.5yrs

Average lifespan of HDD on/off 2.5 yrs

Average time between faults computer always on 189 days

Average time between faults computer on off - 97 days

I can see how that would work for business.

Firgures from electric company and national statisitcs various goolge pages.

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Alert

Stop kids getting eaten!

If you all start saving CO2 how else are we going to drown polar bears? Have you any idea how many defenceless children get eaten every year? will no-one think of the kids?!...

Plus with rising sea levels we can sink Norfolk.. come on people, burn those fossil fuels!

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this is why i like the reg

it's the readers who comment !

my computers die more during power changes [off and on]

it generates heat [where i am and need it [true for me 8 of 12 months] the other 4 i us a dif computer

remote data access [hard to do if it is off ]

remote updates and timed updates in off hours

of course , if our comps last longer , no hardware is bought and software is not needed to be up graded due to new OS on new hardware. We are to blame for the dying economy , we did not buy buy buy .

well la te da and bye buy for now .....

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Boffin

Leaving files where you found them? @various

Hmm, that seems to be a MS-Windoze problem.

My trusty OS/2 Workplace Shell Desktop does an automatic restart of all files/folders left open at last shutdown.

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Flame

Surely the time for a re-appraisal of Thin Client has come !

So here I am sitting in front of my PC which, I am reliably informed is sucking 300watts out of the wall socket. Am I using it all the time -no ! Is it switched all the time - yes ! And my cute little meter on the desktop says I am at 10% utilisation on average. This has to be madness. Do I really need the latest, greatest 3Ghz processor for a bit of email, a bit of word processing, a few spreadsheets and some browsing ? I don't think so . Perhaps it's a size thing, you know, mine's bigger / faster / fatter than yours. Come on someone, tell us about thin clients. I read one review that suggested 4watts max from one particular unit. That's a bit more like it. And cos my data is now back safe in the data centre those IT guys in the Data Centre have control of my data backup; and so much the better, cos they know how to do it, well a lot more than I do ! And don't start me on viruses..............................................

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I'm not doing my part.

I must not be leaving enough PCs running to do my part to increase global warming. It's the end of March, the average temperature this time of year is 60 degrees F, and we are under a blizzard warning.

Quick! To the stripminingmobile!

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Happy

BIOS wakeup

The problem with the BIOS wakeup is that it has no concept of weekends. I wrote a Windows program for our company that automatically shutsdown or switches on your computer once or twice a day and the user can set different times for each setting (i.e. 14 on/off settings, 2 on/off for each day of the week). You can also set it to switch on on a certain date for when you are away on holiday and want it on when you come in.

This lets the computer add updates etc. before you come in but remain off at weekends.

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