Using a Network Connection to Wake Up a Sleeping Computer

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Most Windows Vista computers are configured to go into Sleep mode after a certain amount of idle time. Sleep mode is the new low-power state that Vista uses to replace the confusing Standby and Hibernate modes from earlier versions of Windows. (Standby mode preserved your work and enabled you to restart quickly, but didn't entirely shut off the machine's power; Hibernate mode preserved your work and completely shut off the machine, but also took a relatively long time to restart-faster than shutting down your computer entirely, but slower than Standby.)

Vista's Sleep state combines the best of the old Standby and Hibernate modes:

  • As in Standby, you enter Sleep mode within just a few seconds.
  • As in both Standby and Hibernate, Sleep mode preserves all your open documents, windows, and programs.
  • As in Hibernate, Sleep mode shuts down your computer, except it maintains power to the memory chips so that it can preserve the contents of RAM for when you restart.
  • As in Standby, you resume from Sleep mode within just a few seconds.

To use Sleep mode, you have two choices:

  • To launch Sleep mode by hand, open the Start menu and click the Sleep button, shown in Figure 6.5. (You can also click the arrow beside the Lock button and then click Sleep.) Vista saves the current state and shuts off the computer in a few seconds.

Figure 6.5 Click the Sleep button to quickly shut down your computer and save your work.

  • To configure Vista to go into Sleep mode automatically, select Start, Control Panel, System and Maintenance, Power Options. In the Power Options window, click the Change Plan Settings link under the currently selected power plan. Use the Put the Computer to Sleep list to select the number of minutes or hours of idle time after which Vista automatically puts the computer to sleep (see Figure 6.6). Click Save Changes.

Figure 6.6 You can configure Vista to put the computer to sleep after a certain number of minutes or hours of idle time.

Having a computer go to sleep when you're not using it is a good idea because it conserves power. However, it can be a pain if you need to access the computer remotely over your network because you have no way to wake up the sleeping computer (which normally requires a physical action such as jiggling the mouse or pressing the computer's power button).

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