Wednesday, February 17, 2010

What's Greener Than S3? Shutdown.

I have a friend that started a Facebook group called, "Green is just a color."  This isn't a political blog so I won't venture into Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth here, but I will tell you that in the coldest Winter Cincinnati has suffered in a very long time, my combined gas & electric bill last month was only $95.  My motivation was green as in dollars.  I'm not so concerned about the Alaskan caribou and if you're a tree-huggin' Darwinist then you can appreciate that the caribou had as much a chance at evolving opposable thumbs as we did and they might well be drilling for oil in our grazing lands.  :)  That's a joke.  Settle down Cameron Diaz.

Many years ago I got divorced.  Now, what I'm about to tell you is not my ex's fault, but I have taken control of the things around me.  With regards to PCs, electricity consumption and this blog: I have unplugged my toaster, coffee maker, unused radios and I even turn off the surge protectors for unused equipment when I walk past them.

How does that relate to my PC?  It is a fact that PCs consume far less power today than they used to when in their low-power modes.  But what about the no-power modes?  Once upon a time it was deemed a far greater risk to turn a PC off every day than it was worth in the electricity to keep it on.  I guess with the amount of electricity they use in a mostly powered off mode that argument is still kind of valid.  I, however, enjoy the complete silence a room experiences only when everything is turned off.  We all know you can't rely on your kids to turn things off when they're done and as I've previously noted with my To Do list we're all very busy.  Who wants to remember to turn off the PC at night?  The PC wants to remember!  (If you tell it to.)

I have a scheduled shutdown of my PC that runs every day!  It's not just a brute force, turn everything off by God!  I've only been blogging for 17 days, but I think you can gather from my previous posts that I look for the graceful solutions when possible.

Schedule a shutdown in the same way you schedule your reboot before, but schedule this one to run nightly at 9:00 PM.  Your command will look a little different:

c:\windows\system32\shutdown.exe /s /t 60 /f

The /s tells the system to shutdown (not reboot.)  The /t 60 gives the user 60 seconds to override the command, but that's just a fail safe.  You'll see why.  The /f forces the shutdown.

The fail safe is just that, a fail safe.  When you create the nightly schedule for your task you need to set some advanced options.  We're going to start the job at 9:00 PM, but we're only going to let it execute after 60 minutes of inactivity!  That means the earliest the system would shutdown would be 10:00 PM.  In the advanced properties you also tell it to retry for 8 hours.  That's more than enough time to cover the weekend nights when the kids are up late playing World of Warcraft and by scheduling it daily I don't have to make exceptions for President's Day ;)  Unless the kids pull an all-nighter and make it to 5:00 AM I will wake up to a completely powered down, quiet house.

Special Consideration:  If you do this there are other jobs on your PC that may need adjusting.  Windows Update is scheduled to run at 3:00 AM.  You need to move that to 9:00 PM.  No worries though as "inactivity" means human activity (interactivity).  Windows Update can run and finish before 10 and your PC can still shutdown.


  1. How about an auto shut down and auto start up in the morning? Thats even more useful for retail systems that need to be back up and running each day.

  2. Better late than never? I've never looked at using the task scheduler to wake a system up. Technically it could be done if the machine is stopped in the correct state. Many of the newer BIOS' have a setting to wake the computer at a given time each day. Shutting it down is easy ;)