Get Green Campaign

Ben Greiner -

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If you're committed to doing all you can to save the world and reduce your electric bill, then join our Get Green campaign. The goal of this campaign is to sleep or shut down desktop workstations more often. (Notebooks are more energy efficient than desktops so we’re going to ignore them for now.)

 

SOME HISTORY

A few green-friendly readers may be wondering aloud, “Doesn’t everyone already do this?” Typically the answer is no. It’s been our own practice to recommend leaving workstations running 24/7 for three major reasons:

 

  1. Remote Support. Unattended remote access for off-hours maintenance and support requires that machines be left on and awake.
  2. Automated Scripts. Apple’s own, and our add-on, cleanup and maintenance scripts have always been run at night to avoid slowdown or downtime during work hours.
  3. Nightly backups. Not knowing exactly when a Mac will backup and because the commonly used backup utility, Retrospect, hasn’t been able to shut down machines since Mac OS 9, it's made sense to leave machines running all night to ensure data remains secure.

 

Some readers may now be wondering if these reasons have gone away. Sort of. Our current support tools are more sophisticated and we’re now able to accomplish more with less manual scheduling. This addresses reason number one. 

 

We’re also now able to run scripts upon startup — even if a machine has been off for days. In addition, Mac OS X runs scripts in the background with very little (if any) noticeable slowdown. This addresses reason number two. 

 

Reason number three has been the most challenging to overcome. In large corporations this is not a problem because IT only backs up servers. This forces users to store data on the server or risk losing it (and some do). However, our smaller clients typically don’t do this because they like the security of backing up workstations. We encourage this strategy because very few people are diligent enough to always store files on the server. The solution is to update the backup software. Traditional backup software (like Retrospect) rely on predefined scheduled intervals to backup data. Modern backup software (like CrashPlan PRO) backs up data continuously. Switching to a modern backup solution eliminates the third barrier to going green!

 

HOW TO GET STARTED

Tell us you’re ready to join the Forget Computers Get Green Campaign and we’ll help you make the appropriate adjustments, including the following:

 

  1. Log out each night. Not only is this more secure, it also allows us to automate the shutdown of your Mac. If a user remains logged in, especially with applications and unsaved documents open, the ability to gracefully shutdown the machine is significantly reduced.
  2. Turn off automatic login. It’s a good brain exercise to enter your password at login each morning and it’s more secure. Even so, the real reason this change is critical is because it ensures that any automated startup (especially during weekend maintenance) does not interfere with the next automated shutdown.
  3. Update your backup software. Continuous backup not only ensures that your backup is always up-to-date, it also allows workstations to shut down at any time and saves even more energy by eliminating nightly backups (this results in less nightly network traffic and fewer spinning hard drives).  

 

ONE CAVEAT 

Occasionally, especially with older hardware and software, shutting down or even putting a machine to sleep doesn’t work as expected. In these cases there is often nothing else wrong with the machine and it’s not worth the time and money required to troubleshoot the issue.

 

RECOMMENDATIONS

These recommendations should serve the energy conscious needs of most offices. They’re also flexible enough to allow for scheduled remote maintenance during off hours and all settings can be manually overridden (if you sometimes work past 10PM). If you're a Pro Support client, remember to contact us so we can adjust our maintenance policies to match the energy policies of your office and update your backup software. The settings below can be configured using Mac OS X's Energy Saver System Preference.

  • Set Computer Sleep to 3 hours
  • Set Display Sleep to 15 minutes
  • Check: Put the hard disk(s) to sleep when possible
  • Schedule Startup or wake at 6AM Every Day
  • Schedule Shutdown Every Day 10PM

The result will be 8 hours of downtime each night. That's equivalent to turning off your computer for 121 days per year (about 4 months or 1/3 of the year)!

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