What does "idle" mean, and why is it so important to know?

In the sense of power management, idle means that a computer is switched on but is not running any productive or useful codes. 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 include:
Idle Shutdown Timer for PCs, Servers, Laptops

  • After work and on weekends – 20%-30% of users forget to switch off their computers at work.
  • Lunchtime.
  • The rest of the night after long backups, virus scans, patch management, and similar.
  • The rest of the night after long downloads, movie compressions, and burning DVDs.
  • The time between periodic activities, such as “every two 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 –for example, at 6:30 pm every day – and then switching all computers off at this time.

This idea seems great at first glance – but, in practice, it really doesn't work well. Just imagine that a long, unplanned meeting is 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 maximizing energy savings.

Why shouldn't you count on the power management of the OS?

The problem is that PCs will go into sleep mode even if productive tasks are being executed. Another problem is that PCs can only be put into a sleep mode instead of being shut down completely at night. These are the main reasons that more than 80% of users and administrators deactivate the OS' power management functions completely.

Bottom line: The built-in power management of the operating system does not really help. Shutting down computers at a fixed time is not a good solution either because it may disrupt work, it causes many issues, frustration for users, and has a negative impact on users’ 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, a virus scan, a TV recording, a PowerPoint presentation, and so on, are to be considered productive tasks.

In addition, we could tell the system that all times between Monday and Friday, 8 am to 4 pm are to be considered productive.

The system would then keep the computers switched on whenever and for as long as they are performing productive tasks or are on during productive times, as defined by the administrators centrally (or by the users, if allowed to do so locally).

Idle Shutdown Timer for intelligent shutdown of unused PCs

The ideal solution is to configure fixed times whenever needed, and intelligent idle shutdown for all other times. Before shutting down, Auto Shutdown Manager can save open documents automatically.


Idle Detection - how does it work?

In order to make the idle detection reliable, almost all the system components can be analyzed and taken into consideration for the decision regarding whether a PC is idle or is running productive tasks.

In addition to the analysis of well-known components such as mouse and keyboards, 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 virus scans, ...
  • analysis of any running process or services and, the current activity levels
  • state of any network device - whether it is inside the LAN or somewhere else in the world
  • state of the backup process
  • current memory usage
  • on-going TV recording
  • time based - define times during which PCs are seen as productive and will not 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 switched on.


The powerful combination of a flexible scheduler and the intelligent idle detection are just two of the unique attributes that make Auto Shutdown Manager the top professional Green-IT PC Power Management solution on the market.


For more details, see the Features List, or get your free 45 day evaluation copy here.