Windows 7 Power Management

Here’s another little tidbit I was reminded of when putting together a new workstation. On a fresh install of Windows 7, the operating system will stand by after a certain period of “inactivity” (if I recall correctly, 30 minutes). Apparently, activity does not include CPU usage. I’ve encountered this before when encoding videos. I spend all this time before bed setting up the encode the way I want it to thinking that when I wake up I’ll have a nice video to load onto my portable device, but when I check it in the morning the computer is in standby and the encode has barely progressed.

In the case of setting up a new workstation, I started Prime95 on all four cores hoping to get some burn-in action, only to be disappointed in the morning seeing that the workstation was shut off. I thought something had failed. After I hit the power button, though, I realized it was just standby.

Disk activity, on the other hand, counts as activity. How do I know this? I started formatting a 2 terabyte drive at the same time that I started Prime95, and the timestamp on Prime95 showed that the PC went into standby about 30 minutes after the time the format would have completed.

So, a reminder to myself and to anyone else setting up a new workstation, or preparing to do any lengthy task not involving disk activity: change the power settings!

Another beef I have with Windows 7 Power Management is that you can’t always activate a power icon in the system tray. Before I go to sleep, I like to set my profile to what I call “super power save”, turning everything to low and the CPU to 5%, to keep things quiet and cool. In Windows XP, it was possible to add a power icon and then use that power icon to change power profiles. It was a couple of mouse clicks. Notice how on my Windows 7 desktop the power icon is disabled:

The Power icon is not available, period.

I haven’t figured it out, but I’m guessing it’s because my desktop doesn’t have a battery. The solution (or perhaps workaround would be a better term) is to hit the Windows key and actually type power options to quickly get to that screen to change settings. A step backwards in my opinion.

Compare with XP, much easier to select a power plan.