Arguably the best way to save energy is to turn off the PC when you’re not using it. Even turning off the monitor can be a good first step. Programs such as WatchOverEnergy, a freeware program from AKS-Labs that runs in the background, can be used to shut off monitors. This can be a good start because PCs and monitors account for 40 percent of IT-related emissions and account for 13 percent of all power consumed in an office environment. There are numerous other software applications that will also help reduce power consumption.
Among the leading program in the energy management space is Verdim’s SURVEYOR, which includes options for a system to turn on/wake on-demand to tackle scheduled tasks, including software and security updates. This can come in handy for businesses that might need to send e-mail overnight, update Web pages or run other tasks at times when employees are at home asleep.
Shutting down the computer and monitor can ensure that less energy is used, but this will further increase the lifespan of the devices. This saves money and keeps additional hardware out of landfills.
What might seem less obvious is to keep the PC up to date with the latest downloads and patches. Making sure that the latest software updates are installed will allow the computer to run at peak performance, and again last longer—again keeping the machine out of a landfill.
And while video drivers, security patches and other updates of applications are common; the core of a PC system isn’t typically addressed. This is the firmware code that is known as the BIOS or Basic Input/Output System. It has the primary function to identify and initiate component hardware, including the hard drive, optical drives and to prepare the machine so software will properly load and execute. This process is known as booting, or booting up. Before 1990 the BIOS of a computer generally couldn’t be altered and even today there are segments of the BIOS that cannot be altered. This is to ensure that the BIOS can’t be corrupted, and thus the PC can properly boot.
Today few business—or even consumer—users bother to upgrade the BIOS. Yet BIOS upgrades can help with optimization of the operating system, including the frequency throttling through the chipsets, which can mean improved performance.
A BIOS upgrade also means an upgrade of the programs stored on the motherboard ROM memory. Most PCs today use FLASH-ROM and users should consult with the PC manufacturer’s Web site on how to properly update the BIOS. There are a variety of methods for upgrading the BIOS, and which method you might need varies greatly based on a number of factors. Hardware Secrets has an excellent tutorial on getting started with a BIOS upgrade.
As with regular maintenance of the PC, BIOS upgrades can help PCs last longer, and this can certainly mean a savings for small business, as even budget-priced machines can still be close to $1,000 today.