User Guide

1. Getting started

1.1 How does SmartPower work?

SmartPower has been programmed with a single “goal”: to turn off (hibernate/sleep/shutdown) the computer on which it is running. SmartPower also has configurable rules that describe conditions under which the computer must stay on.

Every 60 seconds, SmartPower evaluates the active rules and monitors the relevant activity on the computer (CPU usage, network usage, etc). If none of the conditions within the rules are being met then SmartPower increments a counter by one. Once the counter exceeds the grace time the computer is turned off. If any of the conditions within the rules are being met then the counter is reset.

One of the types of rule within SmartPower is called a Schedule. Schedules can be configured so that SmartPower will turn the computer back on in order to comply with the Schedule.

SmartPower can only wake-up a computer if it is hibernated or sleeping, and SmartPower initiated the original hibernate/sleep state.

1.2 Requirements

  • Windows XP SP3 or above. (Windows Server 2003 R2 or above for server operating systems; both versions of Windows Home Server are supported.)
  • .NET Framework 4.0 (Client Profile or full framework)

1.3 How to install SmartPower

  1. Download the zipped installer using the link at the top of this page.
  2. Open the zip file and run the installer.
  3. When the installer has finished, click Start, click Programs, click SmartPower, click SmartPower Configuration.
  4. Configure SmartPower as required and click Save. Your changes will take effect immediately.

The default configuration includes a 24/7 schedule. This effectively disables SmartPower until you have a chance to choose your own settings.

1.4 How to upgrade to the latest version of SmartPower

  1. Download the zipped installer using the link at the top of this page.
  2. Stop the SmartPower service using the Services MMC snap-in, or by typing net stop smartpower in a command prompt.
  3. Open the zip file and run the installer.

2. Configuring SmartPower

2.1 General configuration

To access the SmartPower Configuration Utility: click Start, click Programs, click SmartPower, click SmartPower Configuration.

2.1.1 Target power state

The power state that SmartPower will apply if there are no rules keeping the computer turned on. This dropdown will only list power states that are supported by the current Windows configuration (see section 3.4). The “Suspend” power state is the same as “Sleep”.

2.1.2 Grace time

The number of minutes that SmartPower will wait (once there are no rules keeping the computer turned on) before SmartPower applies the Target power state.

To help prevent “reboot loops” this setting cannot be less than 3 minutes. Increasing this value makes SmartPower slower to turn off your computer but allows SmartPower to ignore short periods of inactivity.

2.1.3 Enable SmartPower

Unchecking this option will disable SmartPower. This is an alternative to stopping or disabling the SmartPower service.

2.2 Schedules

Schedule monitoring allows the computer to stay on between specific times. Optionally, a Schedule may also specify that the computer must turn-on (if it's not already on) at the start time.

Schedules have a start time, an end time, and may be applied to one or more days. Schedule times cannot span midnight, but you can work around this by using two Schedules: one that finishes at 23:59 and another that starts at 00:00.

A Schedule may overlap with another Schedule, either by day or by time. To add, edit or delete a schedule use the buttons below the list of Schedules.

2.2.1 Stay on (and wake-up) according to a schedule

Check this option to enable Schedule monitoring.

2.2.2 Days

The days on which the Schedule applies. You must select at least one day.

2.2.3 Times

The times between which the Schedule applies. The start time must be before the end time.

2.2.4 Wake-up at start time

Check this option to tell SmartPower to wake up the computer at the start time of the Schedule.

SmartPower will not wake-up a computer that has been manually put into sleep/hibernate or that has gone into sleep/hibernate as a consequence of the active Windows power plan settings.

SmartPower will only wake-up a computer if SmartPower initiated the original sleep/hibernate state.

2.3 Users

User monitoring allows the computer to stay on when there are active users.

User activity is monitored by a helper application, "SmartPower Idle Monitor", which starts automatically when a user logs in.

SmartPower Idle Monitor does not display a user interface and simply reports the time of the last user input (using the keyboard or mouse) to the SmartPower service. (The last user input time is the same time that is used by Windows to control the appearance of the screensaver.)

2.3.1 Stay on when there are active users

Check this option to enable User monitoring.

2.3.1 Users are considered inactive after X minutes

The number of minutes that it takes for a user to be considered inactive after the last recorded user activity.

2.4 Devices

Device monitoring allows the computer to stay on when a piece of hardware (or virtual hardware) is responding to pings.

If this functionality is enabled, SmartPower will attempt to ping each device in turn. If any device responds to the ping then the computer will stay on.

2.4.1 Stay on when other devices are on

Check this option to enable Device monitoring.

2.4.2 IP addresses / hostnames

A list of IP addressess or hostnames that identify the devices. Separate items with commas. The IP addresses / hostnames do not need to be on the local network.

2.5 Networks

Network monitoring allows the computer to stay on when one or more network interfaces are being used.

The total data (bytes in and out) per second is sampled on each network interface and then compared with the threshold values. If the total data exceeds the threshold, on any network interface, then the computer will stay on.

2.5.1 Stay on when traffic on any network interface is above a threshold

Check this option to enable Network monitoring.

2.5.2 Network interfaces

Use the checkboxes next to the network interface names to enable or disable monitoring of an individual network interface.

Click a network interface name to select it and then use the Threshold for selected interface control to adjust the threshold for that particular network interface.

2.6 CPU

CPU monitoring allows the computer to stay on when the CPU usage is above a threshold.

CPU usage is measured as the total usage percentage across all cores.

2.6.1 Stay on when CPU usage is above a threshold

Check this option to enable CPU monitoring.

2.6.2 CPU % threshold

The percentage threshold.

2.7 Processes

Process monitoring allows the computer to stay on when one or more processes are running on the computer.

2.7.1 Stay on when certain processes are running

Check this option to enable Process monitoring.

2.7.2 Process names

A list of process names. Separate items with commas. Process names do not end with “.exe”.

2.8 Power requests

Power request monitoring allows the computer to stay on if another program has requested Display power, System power or Away mode. These three types of request are part of the Windows operating system. In Windows 7 onwards you can enter powercfg /requests in a command prompt to see which programs are making requests.

2.8.1 Display power

Check this option to enable Display power monitoring. Display power is usually requested by media players, and only when actively playing video. N.B. XBMC requests Display power even when idling.

2.8.2 System power

Check this option to enable System power monitoring. System power is requested by a variety of programs, including: media players, download clients, some virus scanners, backup software.

2.8.3 Away mode

Check this option to enable Away mode monitoring.

2.9 Advanced configuration

The advanced configuration settings are for advanced users and do not normally need to be altered.

2.9.1 Stop/start services

A list of services that SmartPower will attempt to stop before the computer sleeps/hibernates, and start when the computer resumes. Separate service names with commas. If a service does not exist, SmartPower will ignore it.

N.B. If you are running SmartPower on Windows Home Server then you should not remove DriveExtenderMigrator.

2.9.2 Run after resume

The full path to an executable file that will be run every time the computer resumes. This option will also accept batch files.

The executable file will be run within the context of the SmartPower service (session 0), so this option cannot be used to start programs within an interactive users' session. For example, you cannot use this option to open a web browser after each resume.

2.9.3 Automatically reload settings when configuration file changes

Check this option to make SmartPower reload its settings if the Configuration.xml file is altered by another program.

2.9.4 Write debug log

Check this option to make SmartPower create a debug log. Use the Open configuration/debug file folder link to open the directory that holds the debug.txt file. SmartPower does not truncate the debug.txt file; if this option is left enabled, the debug log will grow indefinitely.

2.10 License

Displays the license that is currently being used. To install a new license, click Install New License... and copy and paste the license key into the dialog box.

3. Troubleshooting

3.1 My PC doesn't wake-up

Reliable hibernate/suspend and wake-up is dependent on various Windows settings as well as the presence of a compatible motherboard. Most modern computers running Windows 7/Vista will support SmartPower by default. However, if you are having problems you can try the following:

  1. Check that the SmartPower service is running and that its startup type is set to "Automatic".
  2. Check that SmartPower is enabled. Open the configuration utility and look at the checkbox at the bottom left of the UI.
  3. Check that your schedule has "wake-up" enabled. Open the configuration utility and view the schedule properties on the schedules tab.
  4. Check that your target power state is not set to Shutdown. SmartPower cannot wake-up a PC that has been shutdown.
  5. Windows Vista onwards – Check that Allow wake timers is set to Enable. Click the Start button and type "power saving settings", click Change power-saving settings, click Change plan settings against the currently selected plan, click Change advanced power settings, expand Sleep, expand Allow wake timers, ensure that the setting is set to Enable.
  6. Check your BIOS settings for an HPET (High Precision Event Timer) option. If HPET is disabled, try enabling it. On some computers, wake timers do not work unless HPET is enabled.
  7. Check that your Windows power saving settings do not hibernate/suspend your PC when it's idle. SmartPower will not wake-up a PC that has been hibernated/suspended by Windows.

3.2 When I run the SmartPower configuration utility I see a message that says “SmartPower could not load the list of network interfaces” – what's going on?

SmartPower uses a feature of Windows called "Performance Counters" to measure network and CPU activity. Occasionally the Performance Counters become corrupted and need to be rebuilt. (The corruption is not caused by SmartPower). SmartPower cannot operate while the Performance Counters are corrupt.

To rebuild the Performance Counters please follow these steps:

  1. Open a command prompt window as an Administrator.
  2. Type c:\windows\system32\lodctr /R
  3. Press Enter.

You can find more information about this issue in this Microsoft Support article: How to manually rebuild Performance Counter Library values.

3.3 When I run the SmartPower configuration utility it always crashes and I see the following text in the exception details: “System.FormatException: Input string was not in a correct format.”

This is caused by the Performance Counter issue described above. In later versions of SmartPower (1.2.4 onwards) this error is handled properly.

3.4 I don't have Hibernate or Suspend in my list of target power states

SmartPower only shows the power states that are supported by your operating system. If Hibernate or Suspend are not visible then you will need to enable those power states. For help with hibernation try this Microsoft Support article: How to disable and re-enable hibernation.

3.5 SmartPower used to work but now it doesn't do anything. My PC never turns off.

SmartPower may be in fail-safe mode. Fail-safe mode is activated if you disable a power state that SmartPower is using (ie. you disable hibernation but the SmartPower target power state is set to Hibernate), or you change your network hardware. You will need to reconfigure SmartPower with the SmartPower configuration utility.

3.6 Network throughput monitoring isn't working. My PC turns off even though the network adaptor is in use.

Check that the correct network adaptor is selected in the SmartPower configuration utility. Most PCs have 3 or 4 adaptors listed, however only 1 of these will represent the PC's physical network card.