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How to Utilise S3 Standby and Still Have "Always On' Access to Your Computer or Networked Drives

Introduction:

In spite of increasing awareness in the general public about energy conservation, the ability to Utilise low power states on desktop PCs is incredibly under documented and widely unused. My goal with this article is to change all that, to help computer users everywhere Utilise these low power states without losing any original functionality of their network drives or remote applications. Heck, if you follow this guide, you may even be able to save a buck or two in the process. This guide will attempt to answer the following:

If you already know, or your computer is already configured to enter the S3 Standby mode, you may skip ahead to the following section: How to use S3 standby states when you need your computer to be ALWAYS ON.


Why bother?

For me, standby modes on my windows machine always seemed like a bother, why would I waste my time allowing my computer to go into standby mode after 30 minutes of non-usage? Why would I wait an extra five seconds for my computer to be responsive again? Yes, for me, power management was not high on my list of priorities. That was until I moved out and starting paying the power bill by myself. After I built myself another computer to accompany my first computer I saw an unmistakable jump in my power bill at the end of the month. How much money could one computer suck up at the end of the month through power consumption?

Well, today's computers with dual video cards, RAID 0 Configurations, and multiple core processors can eat up a lot of juice. High end power supply units are now rated at over 1000 watts. If we take the worst case scenario that a computer uses 400 Watts idling along, we can find some astounding figures.

That kind of money could pay for a cell phone! If you want to save some cash, keep on reading.

How Do I enable this S3 Sleep State?

If you are lucky, your computer might already be configured properly to enter S3 Standby mode. Why don't you check and see. Click your standby button (Start - Shutdown - Standby). Now, once the computer is in standby, check the fans on your computer. Are they still spinning? If so, you are not taking full advantage of S3 standby mode. S3 standby mode turns off all the components inside your system except the memory using as little as 1.8 watts. S1 standby mode just puts your components in low power modes and uses only slightly less power than a computer that is in the on state.

If your computer is already configured correctly and your fans have turned off, then you can continue on to the section called How to use S3 standby states when you need your computer to be ALWAYS ON.

If your computer's fans are still spinning you can try some of these options:

Now if you are lucky, your computer is now configured for an S3 Sleep state. Congratulations!

Now you can select a power profile in the "power options' control panel icon that allows your computer to enter standby mode after a user specified number of minutes!

I can't wake computer after it's gone to sleep?

If you are using USB mouse and/or keyboard you need to tell windows to allow them to wake the computer. This is turned off by default.

  1. Right click on MY COMPUTER and choose PROPERTIES
  2. Click on the HARDWARE tab and then the DEVICE MANAGER button
  3. Click on KEYBOARDS to open up the list of keyboards
  4. Right click on your USB keyboard and choose PROPERTIES
  5. Click on the POWER MANAGEMENT tab
  6. Tick the box to ALLOW THIS DEVICE TO BRING THE COMPUTER OUT OF STANDBY
  7. Click on OK
  8. Click on MICE AND OTHER POINTING DEVICES to open up the list of mice
  9. Right click on your USB mouse and choose PROPERTIES
  10. Click on the POWER MANAGEMENT tab
  11. Tick the box to ALLOW THIS DEVICE TO BRING THE COMPUTER OUT OF STANDBY
  12. Click on OK
  13. Close the DEVICE MANAGER and SYSTEM PROPERTIES screens

And now We can finally move on to:

How to use S3 standby states when you need your computer to be ALWAYS ON

This section of the article will cover how you can make S3 standby states viable when a computer is acting as a file server, a remote access point, VNC host or any other kind of network activity. In my case, I have two computers, one is a media centre computer in the living room, the other is a more powerful Core 2 Duo machine which has several large hard drives which serve as a repository for videos media and music, which need to be accessible on demand. I have figured out a few tips allowing the computer to wake from an S3 state and serve the files or provide the access required without any need for "magic packet" software or any other utilities other than windows itself. It simply wakes whenever it senses activity routed to it's specific IP address. Here are the steps you can take to configure your own machines:

I have found that the most reliable way to make this work is set static IP addresses on your local network. This means that rather than having the router automatically assign an IP address on your local network, your network card decides on a static or constant IP address. This makes routing traffic around on your ports much easier. Configure your router to reserve a static IP address for each computer on the network - that way if you plug your computer into someone else's network it will still work - otherwise follow these steps to set a static IP:

  1. Click on START then RUN
  2. Enter the command name CMD and click on OK
  3. In the black MS-DOS command prompt window enter IPCONFIG and press the ENTER key
  4. Note down the computer's current IP address (which will be something like 192.168.0.3), the subnet mask (normally 255.255.255.0) and the default gateway address
  5. Close the MS-DOS command prompt box
  6. Navigate to the Control Panel
  7. Double click on Network Connections
  8. Right click your Local Area Network: Choose Properties
  9. Select Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) TCP/IP settings
  10. Click Properties.
  11. Set your IP address, subnet mask and default gateway address manually to the addresses that you noted down previously. (IP addresses can generally be whatever you want it to be within certain limits, the subnet mask, default gateway, and DNS settings should correspond to your particular router. Check your router manual for more information) IP settings
  12. Once you have made your changes, click OK and allow your network adaptor to reconfigure itself and reconnect to the network.
  13. Test your network to see if you still have connectivity by pulling up a browser or checking network accessibility.

Now we can move on to configuring the computer to wake up when it senses traffic on it's static IP address.

  1. Boot into your BIOS, make sure all WOL and network wake up options are enabled. Refer to your manufacturer's motherboard manual.
  2. Boot back into Windows: Navigate to the control panel: Double click on Network Connections
  3. Right click your Local Area Network: Choose Properties
  4. In the first box it should show your network adaptor. Click "Configure'
  5. Navigate to the "advanced' tab: Select "Wake Up Capabilities' advanced settings
  6. Every network device varies a bit, you want to enable all capabilities, choose "both' or "magic packet and wake on pattern'
  7. Click the Power Management Tab: check the box that states: "Allow this device to bring the computer out of standby" Power Management

Once you have selected these options and rebooted, you should now have set your computer up with a very powerful configuration. You can now allow your computer to go into standby mode, yet whenever your network adaptor senses any activity on your specific Local IP (in my case: 192.168.0.3) it will quickly resume from S3 standby and perform the functions requested. As soon as the network is not being utilised, your computer will return to standby after the allotted time you have set in your power options settings.

Tips for Mapping network drives on an S3 standby enabled PC.

I use mapped drives to easily access files on my file serving computer. I have found that when mapping network drives from remote machines trying to get files on your S3 enabled server, it is most reliable if you setup your shares based on the IP address of the machine rather than the network name. As if another computer is in a suspended state your computer may not know it exists and so may not know the IP address related to that computer. If you map the drive using the IP address instead of the machine name then your machine will send a message to the network card on the other computer and this should cause it to wake up automatically and then allow you to map the drive.

Here we are mapping a network drive:

Map network drive

So rather than mapping the drive to "office" I will map it to the IP address of the "office" computer "192.168.0.3" eg instead of mapping to \\office\Data or \\Office\C I map to \\192.16.0.3\Data or \\192.16.0.3\C

Another alternative would be, once you have fixed the ip address of the "office" computer to 192.168.0.3, you can make an entry into the HOSTS file on your other computers to map the machine name to the IP address. Open Windows Explorer, nagivate to C:\Windows\System32\Drivers\etc and then right click on the HOSTS file and choose EDIT. Look for the line "127.0.0.1 localhost" and add a new line after it for the other computer


  127.0.0.1       localhost
  192.168.0.3     office

Now your computer "knows" that the IP address of the machine "Office" is 192.168.0.3 and as long as it STAYS that way you can safely map your drives to \\office\c etc. Note that if you change the IP address of the office computer then your computer will no longer be able to access it as the HOSTS file will be pointing you to an incorrect IP address (and possibly a different computer).

Conclusion:

In this article we have described how it is really possible to Utilise an S3 power state while retaining constant and immediate access to your network drives, shared folders, remote desktop and VNC. By doing this you do away with having to pay the power bills that come from running a computer full time. The methods discussed here will allow you Utilise S3 sleep states to their full potential, conserve energy, the environment and perhaps the size of your wallet, without any compromises.

Cameron Butterfield ("cbutters")