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Computers Consume Precious – and Pricey – Energy: Stop Leaving Them On at Night

For many years, business IT departments have made the habit of leaving company computers running during nights and weekends when no one was about. This has been for numerous reasons including having to remotely deploy patches and updates when users weren’t on the system, and also so that utilities such as virus scans and defragmenters could run without a negative impact on employees.

Given modern technology and several other factors, however, companies should start rethinking this strategy. A new study has found that computers running at night are costing U.S. businesses $1.72 billion yearly in energy costs. But even beyond that, this seemingly necessary luxury has had a severe impact on the environment: 14.4 billion tons of climate-changing CO2 are also released into the atmosphere every year because of corporate computers left running at night.

What could be done to allow enterprises to shut down their computers when not in use? The obvious answer is the development and utilization of means by which these tasks could be performed during production hours.

One of the prime reasons many computers remain running at night and on weekends is so their hard drives can be defragmented. In that file fragmentation–the splitting of files into multiple pieces so that disk space is better utilized–is a main barrier to peak computer performance, defragmentation must be performed on every hard drive in use. In that the cessation of defragmentation is not an option; the answer is a fully automatic defragmenter, one which does not interfere with user activity because it only utilizes idle resources. Such technology has been found to outperform scheduled defragmentation due to the fact it defragments whenever and wherever possible–and it has also done away with the requirement to leave computers up and running so they can be defragmented.

Another money-saving aspect to such a solution is the lack of a need for scheduling. With the high number of hard drives in use in an average enterprise, scheduling defragmentation becomes a time-consuming IT task. With IT time at an all-time premium, IT personnel time could obviously be better spent on higher-priority matters.

The rest of the solution lies with programmers of backup, anti-virus, remote deployment and other utilities which must be run on off-hours. With the full automation of all these functions, the necessity to leave computers running at night and on weekends is virtually eliminated–with the attendant substantial savings in energy and environmental harm. So, too, is eliminated the necessity for IT personnel to analyze and schedule them.

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