Using a Network Connection to Wake Up a Sleeping Computer

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Fortunately, most new NICs support a feature called wake-on-LAN, which enables the NIC to wake up the computer when the NIC receives a special Ethernet packet called a magic packet (usually the hexadecimal constant FF FF FF FF FF FF followed by several repetitions of the computer's MAC address).

For this to work, you must first configure the NIC to handle wake-on-LAN. Here are the steps to follow:

1. In the Network Connections window, right-click the connection that uses the NIC you want to configure, and then click Properties. The User Account Control dialog box appears.

2. Enter your UAC credentials to continue. The connection's Properties dialog box appears.

3. In the Networking tab, click Configure to open the NIC's Properties dialog box.

4. Display the Power Management tab.

5. Click to activate the Allow This Device to Wake the Computer check box (see Figure 6.7).


Figure 6.7 To turn on a NIC's wake-on-LAN support, activate the Allow This Device to Wake the Computer check box.

6. Click OK.

With the computer's NIC configured, you need to download a utility that can send a magic packet to the remote computer whenever you need to wake up the machine. I use MatCode Software's free Wake-on-LAN utility, available at www.matcode.com/wol.htm. (This utility requires the NIC's MAC address; see "Finding a Connection's MAC Address," earlier in this chapter.) You can also try Googling "wake-on-lan utility".

NOTE

If the Allow This Device to Wake the Computer check box is disabled, it probably means your NIC doesn't support wake-on-LAN. However, it may also mean that this support has been disabled. In the NIC's Properties dialog box, display the Advanced tab and look for a property named Wake Up Capabilities. Click this property, and then choose On in the Value list. Click OK to put the new setting into effect, and then retry the steps in this section.

TIP

When you use the wake-on-LAN feature, you probably don't want the remote computer to wake to the Vista Welcome screen. Instead, it's almost always better to have the computer wake directly to the desktop. To disable the password requirement on wakeup, select Start, Control Panel, System and Maintenance, Power Options. In the Power Options window, click the Require a Password on Wakeup link to open the System Settings window. Click Change Settings That Are Currently Unavailable, and then enter your UAC credentials. Activate the Don't Require a Password option, and then click Save Changes.

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