Beginner Builder series 75% done! will probably never be finished. :(

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

WakeOnLan: Like a genie, without the bottle.

Few people actually know that you can turn on a computer with just a small move of the finger....from rooms away. "Wake-on-LAN" is a feature that is in many computers that allows the motherboard to give a tiiiiiiiiny amount of power to the network card; that way, even when the computer is turned off, it can still receive the "magic packet", which is basically a very small amount of data that tells the computer "HEY! WAKE UP!"

WakeOnLan is a very very easy utility that allows even the most novice PC user to use the Wake-on-LAN feature. There are two steps to waking a computer with WakeOnLan:
(1) Enter MAC address
(2) Press button

And boom! Your computer will rise like a zombie! This will work for a computer that is in Standby, Hibernation, or completely turned off!*

Getting the MAC (if you don't know how):

For those of you who don't know how to get a MAC address, do the following on whatever computer you want to wake (not on the computer that you're going to run WakeOnLan on):
(1) Under the start menu, click "Run"
(2) Type "cmd" without the quotes, then press "OK"
(3) Type "ipconfig /all" without the quotes
(4) Look for the line labeled "Physical address", and write down that number.

It should look like this: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX, made up of random numbers and letters. That's your MAC address! That wasn't so hard, was it?

Enabling for Standby:

Lastly, you have to enable the Wake-on-LAN feature on the computer that you want to wake. If you want to use WakeOnLan for Standby, Follow these steps:
(1) Under the start menu, click "Run"
(2) Type "devmgmnt.msc" without the quotes, and press "OK"
(3) Open "Network adapters"; double click the one that has the words "Ethernet controller" somewhere in the title.
(4) Check the "Allow this device to bring the computer out of standby" (and optionally, check the option below, as well.)

If the "Allow this device..." option is greyed out, I don't know what to tell you. I only mention this because mine is currently greyed on this computer, and I don't know why. :P

Enabling for Hibernation or turned off:

*DISCLAIMER: This will not work on all computers. Your specific computer model has to support Wake-on-LAN from the completely turned-off state. There are five power states (the first three of which I will not bore you); "S4" means Hibernation, and "S5" means completely turned off. Most computers nowadays support "Wake from S4", but fewer support "Wake from S5".

Furthermore, in order to enable Wake-on-LAN for Hibernation and turned off, you have to go into the BIOS, which is a dangerous place to be if you don't know what it is. So if you're reading this and don't know how to enter the BIOS or even what the BIOS is, I recommend getting someone who does know to help you.

DISCLAIMER II: Also, I am not liable if your screw up your computer. Fair warning.

DISCLAIMER III: I have not tried it in S5, because my computer does not support it. So I can't even say that it does work. I just assume, at this point. If you have tested S5 and know that it works, leave me a comment.

If you REALLY want to enable it for Hibernation and/or turned off, enter the BIOS by pressing one of the F# keys (it is different for each computer; it's usually labeled "Setup") before the Windows loading screen. When in the BIOS, look for a tab about "Power" or "Power management" or something of the like. In that tab should be an option for "Wake on LAN for S4" (for Hibernation) and/or "Wake on LAN for S5". If S5 is not present, that means your computer doesn't support it. If you can't find either, than I don't know what to tell you.

So that ended out being a mini-tutorial (or a full tutorial, perhaps) on WoL. But concerning WakeOnLan specifically (the program), it's incredibly easy -probably the easiest WoL program out there (even though it may not be as feature filled as other WoL programs). It even works on your wireless card [of the computer running WakeOnLan, not the computer being woken], and no more configuration is needed.

WakeOnLan is very tiny, only 32kb. It is not portable, however, in the sense that it requires Microsoft's .NET framework (which many computers have, but some don't). Otherwise, it is standalone, and only creates one teeny tiny little file that contains the last MAC address that you used. Oh, did I mention that it remembers your last MAC address? Well, it does.

It truly is an amazing feeling: to be sitting in another room, press a button, and know that a computer is whiring to life in the next room. It's very handy, if your computer goes into standby after being idle for a while; if you're in the next room and want to access some files from the network, just wake it up! It might be a tool that you can never live without, once you try.

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