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3. Make your computer smarter

February 3, 2012

When I started to plan this post, my idea was to get to the bottom of the whole turning your computer on and off debate. You know the one: computers use energy, which costs money and wastes resources, so we should turn them off when we’re not using them. But wait! Doesn’t the action of turning on/off use enough power that it’s more wasteful to switch it off if you’re only going to switch it on again minutes later?

Well, I started researching what the “green time” was – the time when it was better to turn off your computer than leave it on. Unfortunately, I found very little that was enlightening, as most sources disagree! What with different models and fast technological advancement, it’s difficult to give a hard and fast rule. Advice from the US Department of Energy suggests that switch your computer totally off if you won’t be using it for more than two hours.

However, when I have talked to people about turning their computers off, particularly overnight, there’s a lot of reluctance. In many workplaces, computers are on all the time, which means that most of the time they are on unnecessarily. Reasons that people cite for leaving their computer on include that they want it to be ready to go as soon as they are, and that their system is automatically backed-up/upgraded at some point in the evening, so they can’t turn their machine off.

So I was very excited when I came upon this post which, amongst other things, explains how to set a time for your computer to turn on or off.

Worried that there’s a back up that happens every night at 8pm? Set your computer to turn off at 9pm! Can’t wait for your computer to turn on when you get into the office at 9am? Set it to turn on at 8.45am!

After some more googling, I found a way that seemed like the most straightforward (thoguh there are other ways). Use a free programme called TurnOff Master. Download it, run it and then simply select what it is you want your computer to do. It can be a one-off event, or it can happen every day. You can also enable an alert that will tell you 5 minutes before the computer shuts down, so if you’re working late, you don’t run the risk of having your machine switching off on you!

The great thing about this is that it is so easy, once you’ve installed the software, and from then on, it saves money as well as saving resources. Imagine how much energy is wasted when millions of computers are left on overnight! It’s a small change that makes a difference.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Rory permalink
    February 3, 2012 1:01 pm

    Interestingly the majority of computers can be turned on/off via LAN (if this option is activated in the BIOS). One could theoretically utilise this to turn off all (or selective) computers connected to a network at a set point, say after a network backup and then ‘woken’ up before the employees arrive for the day. Even the most efficient worker can’t complain that way!

    I used to use this option on my computers at home to start-up and shut down my pc at home so I could set a torrent running and have an episode of whatever American series I was watching ready to go by the time I got home.

    Also many computers often have a self start-up/shut down option also on their BIOS. I used to use my computer like an alarm clock!

  2. February 3, 2012 1:36 pm

    Thanks for your comment, Rory! I did see that it can be done via BIOS (indeed, that’s the way it recommends in the post I link to first), but I know that this is slightly different on different computers, and I also think that some less technologically-minded people would probably like a straightforward programme to do it for them! It is possible, and very easy, though, so people should do that if they prefer!

    I didn’t know about the LAN potential, so thank you for that!

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