Should servers be turned off at night?

GorillaApe asked:

There is a server that is used from 4:30 am in the morning until ~ 22:00.

Should it be turned off? I think that it is a server and that it won’t have a problem to stay on, but serious professors are telling me that it is dangerous and that HD can fail within 2 years. The server owner believes that his old server running from 1995 without backup and a single hard disk (if the hard disk fails he is screwed) had no problem because he used to turn it off at nights.

What do you believe for this?

Now it has a RAID 1 array, external hard disk backup, and serveral full hard disk backups on DVD and over the internet.

My answer:

One thing not mentioned is that most servers have maintenance tasks they perform on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. These are almost always scheduled for the middle of the night, when activity is expected to be at its lowest.

On a Red Hat system, for instance, these activities start at 4:02 am server time. Depending on the server, these could run for a few seconds to an hour or more. If you turn on the server at 4:30, these maintenance tasks will start immediately (by anacron) and the earliest users to log in between then and 5-ish am would be impacted to some extent.

View the full question and any other answers on Server Fault.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.