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Is turning your monitor on and off bad for it?

By Technochicken ยท 26 replies
Sep 28, 2009
  1. I often leave my computer running and downloading or installing things for long periods of time. During this time I turn my monitor off to save power, but I frequently turn it back on to use it or check on progress. I know that turning florescent light bulbs on and off often significantly decreases their life span, and I was wondering if it was the same case with the cold cathode tubes in LCD monitors. Thanks for any input!
  2. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 838

    As I understand it, the more you turn anything on and off the faster it wears out. You are doing the right thing by preserving your LCD, but you should be using the screen saver (power) settings to turn the monitor off, or better yet, just use a blank screen saver.
  3. Technochicken

    Technochicken TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 716

    Wouldn't that be basically the same, because the back light would still be shutting off and on repeatedly? Maybe I should just set it to dim the back light.
  4. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 838

    No... it wouldn't be the same at all, using a screen saver with a blank screen will always use minimal power.
  5. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,236


    There are no cathode tubes in LCD monitors. LCD is Liquid Crystal Display. You probably meant CRT monitor (CRT = Cathode Ray Tube.)

    It really depends on how often your turning your CRT monitor on/off. If you start a big download and toggle the monitor on/off every 15 mins over several hours and repeat this many times per week, then it can lead to significant wear. But if you're only doing this downloading once a week or less, I wouldn't worry about it. You can just use a blank screensaver. It saves a bit of energy.

    -- Andy
  6. Technochicken

    Technochicken TechSpot Paladin Topic Starter Posts: 716

  7. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,236

  8. nismo91

    nismo91 TS Evangelist Posts: 988   +66

    i always turned off my LCD at the end of the day, and turn it on the next day. i mean, some people just let it 'standby' or either just turn off the main switch. i understand that the more u press, the faster it wears, but i don't like the "shock" part when u don't turn it off and u switch the main power on.

    as for the leaving for standby, i don't like doing it because i got some items that gone dead after leave em to standby. a samsung blu-ray player, it takes me 3 months to wait for replacement during warranty period. i wont ever 'standby' my items no more.

    my suggestion, go to the power / screen saver option, set the "turn off display" after certain minutes. it's almost like turning off your LCD without a press of a button. i did this to my laptop and PC so that it saves power, and because i often sleep while downloading. it's not bright in the room.
  9. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 314

    Turning off your monitor with the switch will cause more wear and tear then letting your PC's power management "electronically" turn it off. The power led will stay blinking as opposed to being completely off.
  10. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,236

    gguerra, I also happen to be an engineer and your point that turning the monitor off using Windows power management is safer than using the switch is HOGWASH!! It amounts to the same thing! Either way you turn off the power, it's the discharge that causes the wear, not the method for turning the power switch.

    -- Andy
  11. strategic

    strategic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 838

    Ok, so how about we just agree on using the blank screen saver instead of power management.
  12. gguerra

    gguerra TS Guru Posts: 314

    It does not amount to the same thing. BUT hey I will agree to disagree. Letting the PC power it off will enable a "power saving mode or standby mode" and the light will stay on (blinking) where as pressing the switch physically (or electronically) will engage power and allow voltage to transfer to monitor, not to mention the wear and tear on the switch itself, duh.. It's not just the discharge but the charge.. so HOGWASH yourself
  13. almcneil

    almcneil TS Guru Posts: 1,236

    Now I understand what you are getting at. In Windows XP power settings, there is one option that turns off the monitor completely. There is another called standby that does put the monitor in a low power mode. The latter is what you are referring to and, yes, you are correct for that. It was just the way you worded it, I thought you were referring to the first option.

    Now I need to go wash my hog.

    -- Andy
  14. tweakboy

    tweakboy TS Guru Posts: 467

    Yes of course,,, better left on,, if u gonna shut it off every 1 hour o 2 hours,,, turn it on again,,,,, either turn it off leave it off, or leave it on ,,, when behind it,, gl
  15. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,696   +3,848

    Well, if you use your computer 8 hours a day, then turn off the monitor, it will take 3 days to equal 1 full day of running 24 hours a day.

    So, I guess if you think turning it off overnight causes it to lose 2 full days of service life, then by all means, leave it on.

    But, electricity is getting much more expensive, and monitors are getting much cheaper.

    Most of this nonsense is generated by people that have someone else to pay their electric bill. Another favorite of mine is the story that you should also leave the computer on 24/7, because of problems caused by, "thermal cycling".

    But then, we should buy "green drives" to save energy, when a HDD only draws about 16 watts in the first place.

    IMHO, most of this is double talk, and histrionics, propagated by people that live their whole lives though the computer, so it makes sense that a part failing is a huge, life altering event.
  16. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    Ever worked in tech support? 90% of problems are started with the phrase "When I went to switch on my computer...". Solution: Never turn it off.

    For the record in the past 8 years, I have left my main PC on 24/7 (upgraded twice in this time). It has had 1 PSU die on it and a couple of case fans. ALL other components are 100% fully functional. That includes ALL hard drives.

    It isn't only thermal cycling that is the problem but mechanical wear and tear for moving components. Having them run at a steady state results in less "situations" where it can run into problems. Startup is a BIG source of these "situations".

    EDIT: oh yes... when you are running a computer 24x7 and you have say 2 hard drives in it, going from 16W to say 5W per drive results in (16-5) * 2 * 24 * 365 / 1000 = 192kWh in a single year (in savings!). At 20c/kWh, which it is approximately here, you are saving $38. So about $19 a year per hard drive. You move other system components "green" and you will save a stack of money.
  17. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,696   +3,848

    Impressive stats, but how much will it cost to keep the rest of your junk running? I'll bet it's enough to make the drive savings pale by comparison.

    besides, if the s*** won't start back up, it was broken to begin with.

    Other than the cooling fans , HDD platter and reading head, exactly how many moving parts are you proposing are in the computer?
    The average desktop computer probably draws about a hundred watts at idle. So, that's maybe 2.4 KWH per day. So, in spite of the pittance you'd be saving with green HDDs, it still impresses me as being penny wise and pound foolish

    If you want to quote something, quote this; run your TV 24 hours a day, and see how long it lasts.

    And BTW, I'd guess that a great many those fail to restarts are related to PSU problems.

    Wow, computers fail to restart, if I was in tech support, I'd cry all the way to the bank. Would you?
  18. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    If you go green with many components, not just hard drives, the savings will add up.

    How about using 45W CPUs (save 50% - Core 2 CPUs are usually > 90W)?
    90+% efficient power supplies (save 10+% - most PSUs are < 80% efficient)?
    Low power idle video cards (save 60+% - AMD's latest idle @ 27W. Approximately a third of the previous gen)?

    Sounds to me like you don't want to think about it.

    True... but my point is the worst wearing occurs on startup.

    Well not only moving parts are affected. Capacitors are notorious for failing. That, after all, is what dies on PSUs.

    I can go to the store and buy a new TV and not lose any time restoring backups, reformatting drives, replacing power supplies, installing new expansion cards and so on. To me that is worth the cost of leaving my stuff on 24x7. But I'm not going to throw away money unnecessarily when there are "green" component equivalents that make running stuff 24x7 a LOT cheaper.

    Sure... turn off the TV. I would also recommend turning off a LCD monitor - they last a looong time even with turning them on/off. CRTs - they aren't really relevant to 90% of people anymore. When it dies, get an LCD :)
  19. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    So using the numbers I had earlier, that equates to approximately $175 a year which I am saying you are paying for "peace of mind". Now if you were to say, halve that by using the efficiency increases I stated earlier, that becomes < $90 a year.

    Replacement of a HDD is close to the $175 if you buy a 1TB. Plus there is time to reinstall and recover content.

    I'd gladly pay the $175. But I take the option of $90.
  20. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,696   +3,848

    Might I offer the observation that in all of your duly diligent "savings" computations, you've conveniently left out the cost of also running the monitor 24/7, which by some quirky coincidence, is the actual topic of this thread.

    The only certain fact I can come up with with respect to powering down equipment involves duty cycle with respect to HID (High Intensity Discharge) lighting.

    If you don't turn these light off, they will double their rated service lifespan. So, that means, if you run them at 12 hours per day, you only break even with bulb life, but double your cost of operation. Cold cathode lighting may or may not follow this trend.

    As to your further nonsense with HDD life span, the WD160GB "Caviar" in the computer I'm using right now, is approaching 5 years old. It has been shut down thousands of times and It's still working perfectly. So, that HDD is worth about 40 bucks nowadays, and I'm sure that 5 years is plenty of return on investment.

    It seems that when I'm talking to "service technicians" at this site, it's said that the results I'm getting can't be average, so I'm always dismissed as being "very lucky", since they know more about it than I do. Please keep in "mind" that knowledge is mostly theoretical, but performance is stone cold fact.

    All that notwithstanding, I couldn't pick a lottery number if my life depended on it, and so it goes.

    As to replacement cost of a 1 TB "green" HDD, here in the "other colonies", they are commonly available at the "$90.00" price range. Which incidentally, nicely coincides with the electricity costs that you tout as "savings" by not turning the drives off. (Here I'm speaking conceptually of course).

    So, I wannbe so green, that's why I never power down my computer, still comes across as oxymoronic, hypocritical, and possibly outright stupid.

    As a hedge against replacement of data issues due to failed drives, I maintain synced data across multiple computers, so that if a HDD actually does fail on me, all that need be done is a simple copy and paste operation to another drive.

    As to *****s that don't make any provision for preservation of data, here again, it's your job as a tech to listen to their problems, sell them another drive, (parts & labor of course), then recommence your sobbing all the way to the bank.
  21. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,952   +575

    I stated in my previous post that an LCD monitor does not need to be left on.

    Prices I gave were in Australian dollars. Our electricity costs appear to be higher than yours too. My price update for the 1TB GP drives is $110-120AUD.

    Copy and paste does not restore an operating system installation. Sorry but that is another FAIL.
  22. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,696   +3,848

    Darth, You're Becoming a Genuinely Tedious Individual.....

    Oooo, different story now, yet still more than they're worth here or anywhere. Why would you fabricate that ridiculous price in the first place? Needed something to say? That's actually rather clever in a boorish, ham handed sort of way, inventing statistics to suit the BS you're trying to spread. You should be in advertising.
    Nobody said it was supposed. I don't put any data files on the OS drive anyway. , reinstalling an operating system is far from a big deal, and certainly nothing I would ever need your help in doing. I also don't really need a course in data moving for dummies.
    So, copy and paste is still the most effective way on moving huge quantities of data. If fact after doing so, if you import catalog files into programs such as Photoshop, all you need do is change the drive letter, and all of a sudden, it's the same as before, with all files accounted for. A lot easier than imaging a couple of hundred GBs of data, and springing for a program to boot

    Since you can install Windows or many Linux OSes with a dozen clicks, that doesn't really seem like a big deal either. Well, perhaps it is to the perennially dull of wit individuals you're apparently used to dealing with.

    Now, I'm going to do something more "constructive" and play with my light saber, and I suggest you continue playing with yours.
  23. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,440   +460

    I recently read in my text book that screen savers are useless. The way I always saw it is that a computer is somewhat comparable to a car, leaving it on all the time puts heaps of mileage on it and cost a lot of gas(electricity). Computers that are on all the time from my experience tend to run slower, are more prone to get spy-ware and I would assume suffer more hardware wear and tear. But i am just a little tech fish, I am only 2 months into college :).
  24. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,696   +3,848

    The only real issue here is whether cycling a florescent light shortens its life span, and by how much. The answer is that yes it does, but not so much that you should run your monitor 24/7.

    Yes, you will get more hours out of the backlight by running it constantly, but end of life will still occur sooner. Here I'm projecting 8 hours of use 5 days a week (2080 hours a year) against 24/7 365 days a year which equals 8760 hours per year. And no, leaving it on 24/7 won't lengthen the bulb life to anywhere near 4 times the burning duration, or for that matter, the probable heat damage to the TFT panel from the constant high temperature.

    And somebody will still have to pay the electric bill, which would be more than 4 times what it was if you turned the monitor off.

    A screen saver actually uses more power than allowing the computer to idle to a blank screen. And S-3, STR sleep, is still your wallet's best friend.
  25. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,913   +698

    If I leave my desk and know I won't be back for more than an hour I turn off my monitor completely, also I have the power save settings set to turn it off after 30 minutes anyways. I'm more concerned about electricity bills then monitor longevity, chances are you will replace your monitor before it burns out anyways, or when it does finally clunk out after 8 years (just throwing a number out there) you wont mind replacing it because you can say to yourself. "Self, Man that monitor had a good run"
    Also I'm not sure if this has an impact on screen lifespan but the first thing I do with my monitors is go into their settings and turn down the screen brightness because they come with such crazy brightnesses that are just really hard on the eyes, the screen I'm using right now is at 50% and it still seems too bright.

    PS Agreed with the screen saver taking too much power then it needs to, I don't use them nor am I under the impression they still serve a purpose with LCDs. My thoughts were they were designed for CRTs as to not have image burn in. Turning a CRT on and off is more harmful for the display then for an LCD as well and your electricity bill.
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