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Why IT Won't Power Down PCs 576

Posted by timothy
from the sheer-cussedness dept.
snydeq writes "Internal politics and poor leadership on sustainable IT strategies are among the top reasons preventing organizations from practicing proper PC power management — to the tune of $2.8 billion wasted per year powering unused PCs. According to a recent survey, 42 percent of IT shops do not manage PC energy consumption simply because no one in the organization has been made responsible for doing so — this despite greater awareness of IT power-saving myths, and PC power myths in particular. Worse, 22 percent of IT admins surveyed said that savings from PC power management 'flow to another department's budget.' In other words, resources spent by IT vs. the permanent energy crisis appear to result in little payback for IT."
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Why IT Won't Power Down PCs

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  • by winkydink (650484) * <sv.dude@gmail.com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:44PM (#27600935) Homepage Journal

    Doubly so for IT Ops. If the business tells IT it wants PC's powered off when not in use, then it will happen. So far, for the most part, that businesses haven't asked. It's disingenuous to lay this problem at the feet of the IT department.

    • by julesh (229690) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#27601035)

      Good point.

      Also worth considering is that if IT departments aren't introducing it because they're scared of losing budget flexibility, then this is a failure of the top level budgetting process. If I, as megacorp's IT director, introduce measures that save £2 million per annum off megacorp's energy bill, I should expect a little more flexibility in a couple of months time when I go to the board asking for extra cash for hardware upgrades. It sounds like this isn't happening.

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:47PM (#27602037)

        I see your problem. You think managers are logical and considerate. You are wrong, sadly.

        I worked for the state of Georgia a few years back, during my time there our group cut our districts IT costs essentially in half, not my doing or anything but it happened either way.

        At the end of the year we had a large amount of cash left over in our budget because of the ways we came up with to save during the year.

        You know what happened? We spent almost every dime we had left over doing stupid training for things we were perfectly qualified to manage already because our next years budget would be based on what we spent the previous year.

        So ... rather than doing our jobs well and being rewarded by getting a little more consideration when we actually NEEDED the money in the future, we had to waste it to ensure that we'd get the funds next time around, even though we knew we wouldn't need them unless something unforeseen happened or that we'd need the money in a couple years when the next round of upgrades/replacement needed to occur. You simply can't budget properly in that state because once you've given some money back, getting an increase later is next to impossible, you have to ramp up over several years in order to get some extra for upgrades/replacements of major systems.

        It was worse than just that however, not only did we have a surplus that we wasted, we had other groups in our district that had surpluses as well, which rather than losing the funding the following year they would figure out ways to funnel the money to us (legitimately) so we could spend it on new equipment to justify their budget.

        The other groups had extra money because they would get grants and federal funding to do projects, but the funding wouldn't be around the following year, so to continue those public health projects in the future, they really needed to keep their allotment for the next year high enough to pay for everthing.

        I write this comment and still think it was absolutely retarded, but those poor bastards that were actually doing the work couldn't do 'the right thing' because it would only screw them within a couple of years because managers and politicians up stream are so broken and stupid that they reward wastefulness and punish efficiency.

        There really is no reason that your typical government worker wants to be efficient, they just get punished for it later. Try to remember that next time you go to the health department, DMV or whatever government office and you see them doing something that seems like a complete and utter waste of resources. They probably are fully aware of it, but have to do it anyway so they don't get fucked later and end up with too little money and some stupid politician asking them why they ran out.

        • by amoeba1911 (978485) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:13PM (#27602533) Homepage
          That's not just the government. I work for a hundred billion dollar company and we routinely do shit like that just to waste money so that we don't get screwed over the next year. What a total fucking waste... waste of resources, waste of time, waste of everything. Business as usual.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Eil (82413)

          You simply can't budget properly in that state because once you've given some money back, getting an increase later is next to impossible

          You might as well replace "in that state" with "in the entire U.S. governmental system". When I was in the Air Force, our squadron commander would come around to all the avionics shops in October (just before the end of the fiscal year) and tell us that we had to spend X thousand dollars on new test equipment, furniture, floor wax, or whatever. Anything, whether we actuall

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by willy_me (212994)

          Not just in government - but unions can often result in the same type of ridiculous waste.

          My mother was a teacher - high school math. She had two grade 11 classes and another teacher taught the third class. Both of my mother's classes were full while the other class was at half capacity. The reason for this was not scheduling - the students were simply avoiding the other teacher. The moral of the story is that if you do a good job and keep kids interested, you get to do more work. The other teacher di

    • by eln (21727) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#27601043) Homepage

      Additionally, if IT goes around imposing such a policy without the business asking for it, they'll open up a huge hornets' nest. The IT department can suggest it as a way for the business to save money, and maybe some IT departments have been lax in not doing so, but without the business actually telling them to do it IT is not going to. In fact, the business would be pretty pissed off if they did.

      • by Kamokazi (1080091) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:29PM (#27601713)

        I implemented a nightly shut down policy for our users because I got sick and tired of them lying to me about the last time they rebooted their PC.

        "Everything is running like crap"

        "Have you rebooted?"

        "Yeah, like 5 times."

        *walk over to PC, bring up command prompt*

        -net statistics server

        "Statistics since 8:00AM at ."

        *facepalm*

        I pitched it to management as power savings, but really I could care less. I just wanted to have a way to force those bastards to reboot every night. And yes, it did make a pretty significant difference in the amount of support calls I got. I suppose you can thank Windows XP for saving power, haha.

        PS-Is it wrong for a sysadmin to hate his user base? Even if they're really, really stupid, because your company is cheap and only hires incompetent morons (excluding the sysadmin, naturally...)?

        • Absolutely not. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Suzuran (163234) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:55PM (#27602179)

          I believe it is right and proper for a sysadmin to hate the users. This has been the order of things since the time of the dinosaurs, and the way it should be. We can't all be the BOFH, but we can all try.

          (Besides, if I didn't hate the users, what excuse would I have for keeping a bat under my desk to threaten the users with?)

          • Re:Absolutely not. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@gma i l . com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @08:30PM (#27605769) Journal

            You sysadmins don't know how lucky you got it! Try working PC repair for awhile. I bet you can take your worst moron and multiply them by 20 and that would be about average for what I get during an average week. I get to have conversations like this-"I needed to move the computer so I just grabbed it and yanked and now there are wires and screws and stuff hanging out the back. Is that bad?" or "I just got this new computer and I want you to take this USB backup thingie and make my new computer have all my stuff on it" 'me'-Uuuhhh where is the disc with the software that you used to back your stuff up with sir? " I threw that out. It has a button you push to back stuff up, surely there is a "put stuff back" button on there." ARRRGH!

            trust me sysadmins, you guys got it good. picture the dumbest bumblehead you got and increase the stupid by about a dozen and I'll have dealt with somebody worse that week. A bazillion pieces of proprietary junk and NEVER have they EVER got the disc, they expect everything to just magically work like something out of hackers no matter how crazy an idea they cook up(I once had a cop bring his wife's PC in so I could "Hack her Yahoo" to see if she was cheating) and they are ALWAYS amazed that stuff costs so much. You have to deal with legacy cruft like you would NOT believe(I had to even build a DOS 3 PC LAST YEAR so I could rig up an ISA card to an 85k lathe from a company that hasn't been business since 89) and more weird and fucked up formats than you can even count. So trust me admins you haven't even gotten CLOSE to the bottom of the barrel when it comes to stupid. At least your hardware and software is pretty uniform. Count your blessings.

        • by thsths (31372) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:01PM (#27602329)

          > I implemented a nightly shut down policy for our users

          Which is great, unless

          - you want to be able to access your PC from home

          - the virus scanner is set on read, so logging in takes 5 minutes in the morning

          - you want to run a simulation over night

          - updates should be run overnight

          So yes, there is a case for shutting down PCs, but it is not always easy. Users will do it if it works.

        • by hodet (620484) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:51PM (#27603193)
          I've been working in IT for many years and my experience has been that if a Sysadmin hates his users it says a lot more about him then it does the users. YMMV
      • by CFTM (513264) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:57PM (#27602235)

        Reminds me of a joke!

        A man is flying in a hot air balloon and realizes he is lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts: "Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?"

        The man below says: "Yes you're in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field."

        "You must work in Information Technology," says the balloonist.

        "I do," replies the man. "How did you know?"

        "Well," says the balloonist, "everything you have told me is technically correct, but it's of no use to anyone."

        The man below says, "You must work in business as a manager." "I do," replies the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

        "Well," says the man, "you don't know where you are or where you are going, but you expect me to be able to help. You're in the same position you were before we met but now it's my fault."

    • by Maclir (33773) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#27601111) Journal

      So, IT Departments aren't meant to be proactive and show initiative, and make the company more profitable?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by paazin (719486)
        Psh, that assumes you give a crap about the company you work for ;)
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Atrox666 (957601)

        No this is discouraged in most places.
        First off showing initiative is a threat to all the executives who have absolutely none.
        Secondly, people who show initiative do things they aren't forced to.
        This eats up budget and gets you in trouble.
        You are just given enough budget to give a little bit of poor quality steady state support.
        "BUT THE IDEA WILL SAVE MONEY!" you might insist.
        The truth is that in IT when you save a bunch of electricity for the company it will probably be premises that gets all the credit. W

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Nos. (179609)

      The company I work for encourages all employees to shutdown their PCs at the end of the day. Once in a while they'll do a walk through at night and leave little reminders on any PCs they find still turned on.

      There are some issues. For example, we use wake on LAN so that SMS can push patches during the night, but we don't have a way to go back and turn them off (some solutions are being looked at). As well, some IT personnel need to remote access to their desktop machines. A way to send a WOL packet to t

    • by furby076 (1461805) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#27601307) Homepage
      I disagree with your point that it is not IT's fault. It is their fault. As the owners/managers of their department they should think of ways to help save the company money. They would know better then a CEO what the best computer practices are. Will powering down PCs each night hamper computer updates? What about people who want to remote in? These are decisions IT managers should make - and they should take the bull by the horns and make a smart decision before their boss makes a dumb one.

      Think proactively not reactively and you will find yourself better situated in life. Go to your boss and say "hey I found out a way to save us 5% on our electricity bill, we can power off peoples desk computers" as opposed to your boss saying "hey how come i read an article about saving money on electricity simply by powering off our computers while you did not? OK now power off EVERYTHING at night"....which as you know is pretty DUMB.
    • by Chris Burke (6130) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:31PM (#27601771) Homepage

      I suppose. Really though I was just shocked that 11% of IT managers stated they "hate the Earth" as their reason for not powering down...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      "Businesses" don't know shiat about technology. How can the suits ask for something beyond the scope of their knowledge and experience? They do crazy crap with contracts and lawyers and stuff that would irritate the heck out of me but is a necessary part of running a company. I really don't care to get into the messy details of how they accomplish every task and I'm pretty sure they're not waiting for me to pipe up and tell them how to do their jobs. Likewise, I'm not waiting for one of them to tell me

  • by Critical Facilities (850111) * on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:46PM (#27600981) Homepage
    I worked as head of Critical Factilities Engineering for a major financial services provider with a 1 MM sq ft campus. There were just over 4000 employees on the campus, each one with at least 1 computer at his/her office/cube. After having a very expensive energy audit performed, a potential savings was (big surprise) shutting down PCs.

    Despite calculating that the organization could save $75K annually (this was a conservative estimate), their marketing department put a stop to the idea. Why marketing? Because the company had just gone through a "rebranding" and the marketing department had designed a new screensaver for all workstations with the new logo/slogan. None of these computers were in client facing positions, so effectively, they were insistent on wasting energy to advertise....to themselves!

    No, I'm not kidding.
    • by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:55PM (#27601151) Journal

      Hah, I have a similar story. We have a big fancy website, and the regional CEO, in an effort to drive traffic told IT to set a policy that forced everyone's home page to be our website.

      So every time anyone opens a browser window, they go to that site. Hundreds and hundreds of workers, thousands and thousands of times a day, every single connection going out on one single IP address, resulting in exactly one unique page view, per day.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by furby076 (1461805)
      Something has to be missing from your reason. While people are dumb, why would someone have a need to advertise to their own employees at night when there isn't any employees? During the day the PCs would be running and the screen saver could advertise - but at 3 AM when pretty much nobody is around (or maybe a skeleton crew)? This just doesn't jive - and in all honesty as head of a department you should have presented common sense facts to the person in marketing or their boss.
    • by contrapunctus (907549) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:08PM (#27601417)
      I wonder how much energy would be saved if Microsoft puts out a patch that forces monitors to shut down. I apologize for being ignorant on the subject. I always see winxp computers in computer labs with the XP logo screensavers going on indefinitely (I'm assuming the maintainers/admins are to blame). But if they were set by default to suspend the monitors and the admins don't do anything, a lot of energy could be saved.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BlackSnake112 (912158)

        XP has been able to do that forever. It is under power settings. There is even a button on the screen saver selection to get there. New installations have a 20 minute (maybe 30 minute) turn monitor off (put it in power save mode) for desktops. But if the domain rules are in place that override that setting, all bets are off.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by poot_rootbeer (188613)

      None of these computers were in client facing positions, so effectively, they were insistent on wasting energy to advertise....to empty chairs at 4AM!

      Fixed that for you.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Mysticalfruit (533341)
      I'm presuming each one of those nitwits probably makes ~75k...

      Well, I think it's time you plan a game of musical chairs...

      Better yet, get them all into a conference room, then walk in and calming explain "I've talked with the CEO and one of you is going to get let go so we can keep wasting energy on your screensaver, what's cool is that you all get to decide which one of you goes." Then look at the clock and say "I'll be back in an hour, and if there's no decision, the CEO will pick two of you to fire."
    • by nabsltd (1313397) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:02PM (#27603417)

      Despite calculating that the organization could save $75K annually (this was a conservative estimate), their marketing department put a stop to the idea.

      With 4000 employees, even a $200K savings per year would work out to only $50/employee. With an average salary of $25K (hopefully low), if the PC shutoff plan did something that wasted 4 hours of employee time per year (like taking as little as 1 minute to start up in the morning), then it's not worth it to the company.

      Until you can save the equivalent of at least 2000 hours per year of salary per employee, it's probably not guaranteed to be a money saver for the company. My WAG [urbandictionary.com] is that at about 500 hours/year you'd be able to persuade accountants that it might be worth it.

  • Classic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MasseKid (1294554) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:46PM (#27600985)
    It's nothing more than the classic "Not my problem". It's a real shame that there are so few people in the world today willing to do something about a problem that "isn't thier problem".
  • by legoboy (39651) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:47PM (#27600987)

    I'm sure it has nothing to do with bad hardware or bad drivers that randomly refuse to wake up from hibernation and the hassles and expense of supporting related issues.

  • 22 percent of IT admins surveyed said that savings from PC power management 'flow to another department's budget.'

    No shit? What about hardware costs? Employee salaries? Cost of software licenses? Those too??? What are you, some sort of support department that doesn't sell your company's product??

    • Re:You don't say..? (Score:5, Informative)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:57PM (#27601207) Journal

      Depends on perspective, I guess. Since we are an IT board, I think it is good to point this out as an IT problem. If this were a management board, then the question would be how do you properly set up your budgets to hold folks accountable for the areas they should be held accountable for. I know in most organizations, an IT department could institute a power savings plan get no credit for the savings but be responsible for any expenses (new software) to help implement it. And if anything went wrong, some poor IT manager would be left hanging. Can you truly blame the manager for not wanting to stick his neck out for no reward?

    • by 0racle (667029) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:04PM (#27601345)
      Where are you that savings to facilities means a savings to IT? Individual departments have their own budgets and little managers guard their little fiefdoms as much as they can. A savings of power would show up under what ever department is in control of the power.

      In short, in many companies IT would be doing a whole lot of work so the Facilities manager can get a raise. Hell, IT might even get reprimanded for creating busy work for itself instead of focusing on core deliverables or some other bullshit.
  • Remote Access ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:48PM (#27601015)

    As soon as I can apply a group policy to our Windows PCs to go to sleep yet still be available via RDP for end users without requiring them to jump through hoops or writing some script they have to run to trigger wake on lan, then I'll have our PCs use power saving.

    Until then, they run all the time so when a user happens to be out of office and needs to access their desktop they can still VPN in and use RDP to get to their PC.

    Feel free to point me at a graceful solution, but the best I've seen so far is a web page to send the wake on lan packet. Thats nice and all, but I'd rather just pay the power bill instead, its far easier than explaining it to everyone who isn't a geek.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:54PM (#27601143)

      Why not have users RDP into a server? With roaming profiles, the user should get the same desktop & apps available to them from a server-based RDP session as they get on their desktop. And their files are on the network, right?

      • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:18PM (#27601571)

        Do you have any idea how many apps can't be used on a terminal server due to licensing restrictions?

    • by qoncept (599709)
      Not sure if it's an option, but we have laptops.
  • by RobertB-DC (622190) * on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#27601031) Homepage Journal

    99% of the time, if I'm not sitting in front of it reading Slashdot, my work PC is merrily chugging along folding proteins [stanford.edu] and using up company electricity.

    But that other 1% of the time, I'm using it from home, because I've gotten called up to fix some urgent client problem.

    To save that $75 worth of electricity, my company would have to require that I drive in to the office every time a client has a hiccup that I can diagnose and fix in five minutes. I don't get paid by the hour, but I'm fortunate enough to work someplace that values my time -- including my non-work time. They would consider that $75 to be money well spent to keep me able, and most importantly *willing*, to take time out on a Saturday to fix a simple problem.

    • by qoncept (599709) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:58PM (#27601217) Homepage

      To save that $75 worth of electricity ...

      Or, to save half, disallow installing software that sits there and uses 100% of your available CPU time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)

      But that other 1% of the time, I'm using it from home, because I've gotten called up to fix some urgent client problem.

      I hate to say this, but wouldn't it make much more sense to connect directly to the servers in question using SSH or a thin client solution like Terminal Server? Unless there aren't public, which I suppose they technically are if you can connect from home either way.

      I say this because the servers have to up no matter what, and if you simply using your work desktop to connect to them, then w

  • Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy&gmail,com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:49PM (#27601045) Journal

    It's a pain in the ass, no one really cares, and the first time some manager had data loss from a machine shutting itself down, the policy would end.

    If we all sat down and set up our networks so that everything correctly booted and shutdown when the network told it to, we could attach power management stuff to the whole network...Assuming that everything correctly saved state when it shut down, so that people didn't lose all their work when their machine automatically shut itself off.

    They're treating this like it's just lazy admins, but its a knotty problem, and not a particularly critical one. In datacenters the computers are the primary energy draw, in office buildings it's light and climate control, and, judging by the heating bills in the winter, the computers aren't really heating the building up that much.

  • I just don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

    by York the Mysterious (556824) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:50PM (#27601065) Homepage
    I'm always amazed when large shops have no power savings features enabled. A lot of it has to do with the inability to manage power saving features from within Group Policy. Thankfully Vista added this ability. There is also a tool created for the EPA that adds this functionality to GP. It's a bit of a hack, but it does work. I'm always amazed why companies don't at least turn on the power saving features on their default profiles when they set them up. You set the monitor to turn off after 10 minutes, and you switch from the Always On profile to the Portable / Laptop Profile. Changing the profile enables SpeedStep which saves about 4W at idle and every time the monitor turns off you're saving 30-40 watts depending on the model. It takes about 20 minutes to do this before you deploy and image. It'll pay for itself in a large company in a day and has no impact on automatic updates or virus scans.
  • by ShadyG (197269) <bgraymusic&gmail,com> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:52PM (#27601091) Homepage

    I don't work that side of the IT group (I'm in development), but in a few places I've worked the workstations needed to be kept alive to perform maintenance at times when it would not affect employee work. Things like asset tracking, system/firewall upgrades, application software install and upgrades, disk optimization, etc.

    It's like the problem with unplugging TVs when not in use. You can't use a remote control to turn it on if the remote sensor is not getting power first. And help desk really doesn't want to have to walk around the building flipping switches by hand.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by chaffed (672859)

      The issue with powering on machines is solved with wake on LAN.

      However, it seems everyone has implemented this differently. I administer a Dell shop. Not all the workstations seem to respond to the same magic packet. The division is across NIC chipset manufacturers. The Broadcoms work one way and the Intels work another.

      In my experience, leaving the machines one is still the best solution.

  • Since when is IT given an electric bill. It's not like an individual department a line item electric bill they have to budget for. It all comes out of the same operational overhead, same as water and heating. Besides, the vast majority of computer users aren't in IT anyway, so why would IT be billed for non IT workers.

    We actually have signs that have just appeared showing a $600k/year savings if everyone shut off their computers. These numbers are obtained during long weekends when an extra effort is taken

  • Another excuse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by meerling (1487879) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:55PM (#27601169)
    There are a number of admins out there that won't power down any server even if it's the only way to fix a problem that's trashing their files and network.
    Sometimes it's because they don't 'have the authority' to down the machines.
    Other times it's because they get unrealistic bonuses for unbroken uptime, and they are greed cretins who'd rather see their work go down the tubes for money.

    I know that it's rarely an issue with downing non-servers, and most admins are responsible as well as being the rarely disputed managers of their boxes, but there are way too many fools and scum.

    If you're curious, yes, I've dealt with a large number of those two types I just listed. They have no pride in their work, and give all admins a bad name. But that's all fodder for a different rant.
  • by Twillerror (536681) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:55PM (#27601171) Homepage Journal

    The OS and hardware should incorporate power saving into machines that are logged out.

    Our users are instructed to logout, but to leave their machines on for patches and the like.

    If the OS could detect when the user was logged out and no services in the background where doing things we could
    really turn down the machine.

    A logged off machine's cpu could virtually go to sleep, the harddrives slow to 5200rpm or lower, the monitor go to sleep, and so on.

    yes it's not as good as shutting the computer completely off, but maybe with some better types of wake on lan we can get as close as possible. Or scheduled turn on and off. Like tell windows to shut off from 7:00 P.M. till 1:00....turn on to get updates and then shut back down.

    Ulitmately this just needs to be the default for future version of OSs like windows and the like. I think we really have to make it a brain dead for IT as possible. I've got enough other crap to worry about...although I do worry about the world engergy problems.

  • I blame Microsoft (Score:3, Interesting)

    by snsh (968808) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:59PM (#27601239)
    Nothing built into XP, Vista, or Group Policy supports time-of-day power management. Many cases the user never wants their PC to sleep/hibernate from 9-5, but after 7 it's fair game. Microsoft doesn't address such a situation. It's either all-or-nothing. The alternative is to spend a lot of time/money acquiring some 3rd party tool like Verdiem, but buying an enterprise tool, versus enabling a feature you already have, means most people won't do it.
  • Old Attitudes.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by coniferous (1058330) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:01PM (#27601273) Homepage

    It's funny, I work at a school where all the pcs shut off at 8:00 every night.

    The major push to make it that way was provided for by the students. They were very concerned by the energy use of our computers. Good for them.

    • Young Attitudes (Score:3, Insightful)

      by SuperKendall (25149)

      It's funny, I work at a school where all the pcs shut off at 8:00 every night.

      The major push to make it that way was provided for by the students.

      That works great because Students have zero concern for time. They can sit there chatting while computers come back online.

      Wait until they are at work and don't have all the time on earth to wait for a stupid PC to boot every day...

      It's not saving the earth to make people grumpier. Emotional state is part of the environment too and affects your outlook on everyt

      • Re:Young Attitudes (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Slightly Askew (638918) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:28PM (#27603795) Journal

        My morning routine:

        1. Push power button
        2. Drop coat/bag/etc. on desk
        3. Fix cup of tea
        4. Work on PC that is now powered up

        Lots of excuses not to use power saving. Boot time is not one of them.

        • Waste of time (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SuperKendall (25149)

          My morning routine:

          Work (and perhaps nibble while doing so).

          You want to talk about savings to a company, lets talk about every person in the company waiting for a PC to boot. Not everyone gets coffee/tea. You also discounted all the time when you got back to work, that you are restarting apps and positioning windows.... again multiply that by each and every person, are you really saving money or have you just lost a shitload of manhours down the hole never to be seen again?

          If a company could power off PC

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ma8thew (861741)
        If the IT department can make them shut down at 8pm, they can probably make them WOL at 8am. WTF is wrong with people like you, who make it your mission to place every obstacle in the way of trying to do things to save money and power? And is your job really that important that you can't wait 2 minutes for your computer to boot.
  • by chaffed (672859) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#27601329) Homepage

    I work in a high rise office building. Our power is included in our lease for the space. There is no incentive for me to power down workstations at night. That being said, you could argue that I would be helping everyone for the greater good. It still comes down to me expending resources without any direct benefit either way. The lease is not cheaper if I use less power. If my office paid per kwh, then it makes sense. Till then, my workstations stay on at night.

    Oh and my workstations do not sit idle. Full anti-virus scans and updates are performed in off hours in order to minimize impact during the work day.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:06PM (#27601373)

    I've been told on many occasions that turning it on and off, and heating & cooling, flexes the motherboard and will lead to premature failure. Also, hard drives spinning up and down all the time moves the magnetic domains "outward" and so your data all accumulates near the outer edge of the disk and the head has a tougher and tougher time reading it all in. Also turning on and off the monitor makes the colors become less bright, so after a few years all you see are "fall" colours like yellows, reds, and oranges... eventually... it only shows white (the screen equivalent of "winter")
    If you try to type something on your keyboard when your computer is off, the bits accumulate in the cord (that's why the old keyboard cables were always coiled... the bits were bigger back then so the coiling resulted in more space for the bits to accumulate) and eventually if you keep typing over the years with your computer off (or if your cat walks on the keyboard even) the cord will fail, probably at the back of your PC and all the bits will flow out on the ground and so your password can be read by hackers with laser beams such as those found in your CD or DVD drive.

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:10PM (#27601439) Homepage

    I teach physics at a community college, and I recently made a big push to get proper power management set up in the science division's computer labs. It ended up being orders of magnitude more work than I thought it would.

    I had seemed like a total no-brainer to me. We had 42 desktop Windows machines in our student computer labs. They were running 24/7. They had CRT monitors, and they were configured so that when they weren't being used, they ran a waving flag animation on the screen, meaning that both the CPU and the monitor were drawing full power. Here we were teaching our students about global warming, but we had this ridiculously wasteful configuration.

    The first issue was that, as the slashdot summary suggests is common, nobody really cared, because it was some other part of the organization that was paying the electric bills.

    The second issue was that when I approached IT, they wanted to handle it using software called Deep Freeze [faronics.com], which not only handles power management but also automatically restores the computer's hard disk to a known state every so often. This is in principle a good idea, because it means that students can't screw up the machines, and it's another layer of defense against malware. However, it opened up a whole can of worms, because if they were going to make this new hard disk image, they wanted to make sure it was done right. They wanted to update the OS, and install all the apps from scratch. Well, we had a ton of apps dating back to ca. 1995 that were still being used for instruction, but nobody could find the licenses for them. So that became a huge issue. It was one that we would have had to deal with sooner or later anyway, but it was a clear example where the easiest thing to do is always to leave things the way they are.

    So we finally got that done, after much interpersonal conflict and hurt feelings. Now we have the new issue, which seems to be that Deep Freeze doesn't play nicely with Windows updates. In one lab, for example, we have about 60 machines, roughly half belonging to the science division. Their hard disks get reimaged over the weekend by Deep Freeze. But wait, then on Monday morning people walk into the lab and power up all the machines. Now all 60 machines phone home and realize that they need an update from MS; they had the update before, but it got erased by the reimaging. So they all start downloading the same 100 Mb update at once, with predictable effects. A chemistry teacher brings in a whole class to do work on the computers, and the computers are completely unusable. Oops, time to come up with a new lesson plan. Hope he's good at thinking on his feet.

    Of course there's no reason in principle that all of these different issues had to be coupled together. E.g., Faronics, which sells Deep Freeze, has another product that only does power management, not reimaging. But the thing is, in real life you're dealing with complex systems and complex human organizations, and lots of well-intentioned changes can have unintended effects.

  • by swordgeek (112599) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:33PM (#27601805) Journal

    Looking at what runs on the desktops of nearly every company with an IT department (and yes, your company may be different--GOOD for you!), we're faced with Windows. And at the end of the day, Windows does power management very poorly. If it worked _exactly_ as advertised, then it would be an ugly and painful kludge of overlapping terms and areas of control. Is suspending a computer more like "standby" or "hibernate?" What if I choose standby in 5 minutes, but turn off hard drives in 15 minutes? Who wins? Also, is my computer idle if I have an application running on it for hours (or days) on end? Does Firefox get treated the same as a gcc job?

    However, that's in an ideal fantasy world. In reality, it's much worse. Some computers work, some don't. Some work one day, but fail after a MS patch. Some let you choose hibernate but won't do it, some will go to sleep and never wake up again. Now before anyone jumps in with 'oddball hardware' and such, let me point out these two points:

    1) I see this behaviour with XP SP3 on an off-the-shelf Dell laptop certified for (and shipped with) XP. I see it on HP desktops under the same conditions. It's not just fringe cases, it's the definition of mainstream business computers!
    2) It doesn't MATTER what hardware I have! If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. Microsoft hasn't been able to get this working well since 1995 (or earlier--did Win3.1 have power management stuff in it?). Even if Vista or Windows 7 get it right, it won't matter at this point because nobody is willing to bother with power management anymore. The pain has been too great for too long for us to let it into our psyche, and it's not likely to suddenly happen now.

  • Simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:36PM (#27601841)
    We've been explicitly told by our IT department NOT to turn off our PCs, so that they can run backups on them while we're not there. I suspect this is true at many companies. The best you can do is set up power management to automatically shut off the video and hard drive after a suitable idle period. I guess they don't trust "Wake On LAN" to wake the machine up for backups. It also makes it easier for IT to do an automated audit or inventory of what is on the LAN if none of them are ever turned off. With the dickless Sun workstations we used to have, the argument was made that wear and tear on the machines from power cycling them costs more than the energy savings from shutting them off when not in use.
  • by wsanders (114993) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:44PM (#27601995) Homepage

    ... then we'd power them off. But, undoubtably this would lead to helpdesk calls.

    I have responded to "dead PC" calls when, in fact, the PC was not plugged in, monitor not turned on, etc. At one job, that was like 20% of the work load.

  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:15PM (#27602557)

    Our group was recently informed "the simple act of shutting down PCs at night can save a company with 10,000 PCs over $260,000 a year". We kicked around the idea.

    That's an alleged savings of $26/year/computer, or about $0.09/day.

    Assuming it takes 10 minutes daily to turn a computer on, wait for boot, and fiddle with getting everything back up to where it was*, we're looking at something vaguely around $6.00 spent just to recover from "the simple act of shutting down [an employee's] PC at night".

    So turning off the computer at night costs roughly 64 times as much as leaving the durn thing on.

    (* - I've got 20 windows open right now, and half of them took considerable time to get to where they are now as I'm debugging something.)

  • by gatkinso (15975) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:21PM (#27602655)

    The less idle machines sitting around for the botnets and worms, the better.

  • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:35PM (#27602879) Homepage

    If you have an AMD PC with the AMD Processor drivers, or a modern Intel, then configure your PC's power management mode to be "Minimal power management." This is under control panel, display, screen saver, power.

    When you do this, it turns on Processor Throttle (AC) ADAPTIVE. This means that your AMD or modern Intel will power down the fans and CPU. Your 2.6Ghz CPU may power down to 933Mhz while you are not doing anything.

    Don't worry, it will still go up to 2.6Ghz if you do something.

    How about offering this up as step 1 of power savings? powercfg allows you to set these things up during machine login scripts for machine values, and if you grant the proper rights to your users a user login script can modify these settings for user settings. Machine settings take effect when no one is signed on (If not set, it runs full open) and user settings take effect when a user is signed on, and is per user.

    powercfg /query

  • by gknoy (899301) <gknoy@anasazi[ ]tems.com ['sys' in gap]> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @07:14PM (#27605035)

    I find my productivity improves when I sit down at my workstation and have everything already open and ready to use: My code editor, my code runtime, any models, spreadsheets, and reference resources that I have open. Normally, I would just Hibernate at the end of the day, and restart in the morning.

    However, a key portion of my work environment requires a license from a license server; if I am offline, I lose the license, and nearly everything I have been working on dies irretrievably. If it took me only 5 minutes to get situated in the morning, that's 25 hours of my time wasted setting up my work environment over the course of a year. 25 hours of most professionals' salaries (at places that are large enough that computed power is a notable expense) is more than the savings in power.

    Then there's the extra issue that I can't remotely access my machine on the weekend or some morning if necessary... but the main one for me is keeping my work environment set up.

Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later. -- F. Brooks, "The Mythical Man-Month"

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