One of the many annoyances resulting from my company laptop being rebuilt onto a corporate standard build has been that it keeps on shutting down overnight. That might sound very green, but it’s actually not very useful – for example when certain processes are running – and there’s the added complication that I need to supply a username and password to the hard disk encryption software, using the built-in keyboard hidden under a document stand, because my Bluetooth keyboard is not available pre-boot.
After checking the Windows Power Options, my next assumption was that my employer’s administrators had installed something on my machine that was what was switching it off at night. After a little digging, I found the answer and it wasn’t some piece of systems management software – it’s a bit of poor user interface design by Microsoft.
In their quest to simplify the Windows UI, Microsoft has presented a very simple Power Options interface to “Change when the computer sleeps”.
My computer is set to never sleep, when plugged in – but that’s not the whole story. It seems that, by clicking the link to change advanced power settings, there are many more settings I can change – including when the computer hibernates (hidden under a sleep heading).
It turned out that my computer was set to hibernate after 360 minutes (6 hours) – since changing this to 0 (never), my PC has happily spun down its disks and turned off its display but, crucially, kept running overnight.
I know the difference between hibernate and standby – but does the average Windows user? I’d argue not! I’ve criticised Apple before for over-simplifying tasks in OS X and it seems that Microsoft has fallen into the same trap with Windows too.