Review: Conserve power on always-on PCs with SmartPower

Configure the Hibernation service to save power (and money) on Windows PCs.

SmartPower's configurable hibernation rules can turn even home servers into green machines. Ignatu's free utility lets you create rules that wake your computer from hibernation at specific times, such as scheduled downloads or updates. Otherwise, SmartPower keeps the machine in power-saving hibernation mode. It's ideally suited for computers that would normally run 24-7 but really only need to be up and running at certain hours, such as your work PC or home server. SmartPower is compact and works as a Windows service in the background. Better yet, SmartPower is freeware, so it saves you money at both ends: up front and on your power bill!

If you've disabled hibernation in your system, you don't need to enable it before setting up SmartPower since the program will do that for you, as we discovered when we loaded the program on a test machine in which the hibernation service had been disabled. But if you're wondering where to start, there's no need to go poking about in the Control Panel; Start with your Start Menu, and click SmartPower Configuration to open a tabbed properties dialog. SmartPower actually offers two Power Off settings: Suspend and Shutdown; with an optional Grace Time we could set to delay the action by several minutes. SmartPower's tabs describe its features and functions clearly enough; each basically keeps the computer active under its rules, starting with the most basic, Schedules. Clicking "Add" or "Edit" produced a small tool that let us schedule Days and Times, as many as needed. The Users tab keeps the machine awake if there are any active users, while the Devices tab keeps things on if any devices are attached. Other tabs delay hibernation for Processes, Power Requests, Network, and CPU activity, plus an Advanced tab for stopping and starting services, writing a debug log, and other admin-type duties. If you need to turn SmartPower off, simply uncheck "Enable SmartPower."

As we expected, SmartPower did its thing without fanfare. But so does Windows, right? Not quite: It takes SmartPower to harness and extend the power-saving option to those computer species that ordinarily don't hibernate.

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