What does "idle" mean and why is it so important to know?
In the sense of power management, idle means that a computer is powered on but isn't running any productive or useful code. Idle PCs consume energy and produce heat but do nothing useful or productive. PCs left on after work are a good example.
Typical idle times are for example:
- After work & on weekends – (20%-30% of users forget to switch off their computers at work)
- Lunch time
- The rest of the night after long backups, virus scans, patch management etc.
- The rest of the night after long downloads, movie compressions, DVD burnings
- Time between periodic activities such as “every 2 hours do …”
- There are many other examples of how computers can waste energy without being productive
The goal: minimize idle times and maximize power savings
The challenge: prevent unwanted shutdowns
One idea to minimize the idle times could be to define a shutdown scheduler – say for 6:30 pm every day – and then switching off all computers at this time.
This idea sounds great at first glance – but in practice, it doesn't really work well. Just imagine there is a long, unplanned meeting going on ... or that a user has just connected to a webinar late in the evening. Some of our customers are hospitals without any set "opening" and "closing" hours... Computers are used on demand and at any time – so the power management solution has to be able to deal with such flexible working models while trying to maximize energy savings.
Why you should't count on the power management of the OS?
The problem is that PCs will go into sleep even if productive tasks are being executed. Another problem is that PCs can only be put into a sleep mode rather than being completely shut down over night. These are the main reasons why more than 80% of users and administrators deactivate the OS' power management functions at all.
Bottom line: the build-in power management of the operating system doesn't really help. Shutting down computers at a fix time is not a good solution either – because it may disturb it causes many issues, frustration for users and has a negative impact on their work efficiency.
This is where intelligent idle definition and detection come into play
With an intelligent idle definition we can tell the system what we consider to be productive. For example we could tell the system that an active backup process, burning a DVD, virus scan, TV recording, presenting a PowerPoint etc. are productive tasks for us.
In addition, we also could tell the system that all times between Monday – Friday 8am – 4pm are productive for us, too.
The system would then keep the computers powered on whenever and as long as they are performing productive tasks or are in productive times, as defined by the administrators centrally (or the users, if allowed to locally).
The ideal solution is to configure fixed up times whenever needed and intelligent idle shutdown for all other times. Before shut down, Auto Shutdown Manager can automatically save open documents.
Idle Detection - how does it work?
In order to make the idle detection reliable almost all system components can be analyzed and taken into consideration for the decision if a PC is idle or running productive tasks.
Besides the analysis of well-known components such as mouse and keyboard many others can be defined. For example:
- CPU , HDD load
- network traffic
- presence of terminal sessions
- pending documents in the printer queue
- active backup process, active visrus scan, ...
- analysis of any running process or service and the current activity levels
- state of any network device- may it be inside the LAN or somewhere else in the world
- state of the backup process
- current memory usage
- ongoing TV recording
- time based - define times in which PCs are seen as productive and won't be shut down
- just to mention a few - there are many others…
Whenever the idle detection system identifies any productive task or time, it resets the idle timer and keeps the computer powered on.
The powerful combination of a flexible scheduler and the intelligent idle detection are just a few unique attributes that set Auto Shutdown Manager on top of professional Green-IT PC Power Management solution on the market.