Imagine being able to switch on your computer from bed on a cold morning, or shutting it down from another room after you’ve forgotten to do so. With advancements in technology, remotely turning your PC on and off is not only possible but also simpler than you might think. This capability can save energy, increase security, and enhance convenience. In the following comprehensive guide, we’ll explore various methods through which you can remotely control the power state of your PC, regardless of your technical know-how.
Wake-on-LAN (WoL) is a network standard that allows a computer to be turned on or woken up by a network message. This feature is especially useful for starting up your pc remotely.
- Enable Wake-on-LAN in BIOS/UEFI:
- Restart your computer and enter BIOS/UEFI settings (usually by pressing F2, Del, or F12 during startup).
- Navigate to the Power Management section and enable ‘Wake on LAN’ or a similar option.
- Configure the Operating System:
- In Windows: Go to ‘Device Manager’ > ‘Network adapters’ > Right-click your network adapter > ‘Properties’ > ‘Power Management’ tab > Enable ‘Allow this device to wake the computer’ and ‘Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer’.
- In MacOS: Go to ‘System Preferences’ > ‘Energy Saver’ > Check ‘Wake for network access’.
- Use a WoL Tool or App:
- From another device on the same network, download a WoL app or tool (many are available for both smartphones and PCs).
- Use the MAC address of the network interface of the computer you want to wake. Enter this into the WoL app and send a ‘magic packet’ to turn on the PC.
Wake-on-LAN is highly beneficial as it enables users to turn on their PCs from anywhere within the local network. It’s energy-efficient and convenient. However, it may require initial technical setup, and it only works if the PC is connected to power and the feature is supported and correctly set up on the motherboard.
Remote Desktop enables you to control your PC from another device over a network connection.
- Enable Remote Desktop:
- On the PC you want to control, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘System’ > ‘Remote Desktop’ and turn on ‘Enable Remote Desktop’.
- Note Down the PC’s Name:
- Under ‘How to Connect to this PC’, find and note down the PC’s name.
- Connect from Another Device:
- On another Windows PC, open the Remote Desktop Connection app, type the PC’s name, and click ‘Connect’. You may need to enter your credentials.
- For other devices, you can download the Microsoft Remote Desktop app and connect using the PC’s name.
Remote Desktop is a powerful tool for full remote access to your PC. It’s great for managing your computer from anywhere. However, the PC must be turned on and connected to the network to use this feature, and it might not be suitable for turning off/on the PC.
IoT smart plugs allow you to control the power supply to your PC remotely via an app.
- Setup the Smart Plug:
- Plug your Smart Plug into a power outlet and connect your PC’s power cable to the Smart Plug.
- Install the Smart Plug’s App:
- Download the app associated with your Smart Plug brand on your smartphone.
- Configure the Smart Plug:
- Follow the in-app instructions to connect the Smart Plug to your Wi-Fi network.
- Control Your PC’s Power:
- Use the app to switch the Smart Plug on or off, controlling your PC’s power supply remotely.
Smart plugs are an extremely easy way to control your PC’s power remotely and do not require any changes to your PC. They’re suitable for many devices, not just computers. However, they can’t turn the PC back on if the PC was not properly shut down before power was cut, potentially leading to data loss or corruption.
You can schedule your computer to shut down automatically at a specific time.
- Open Task Scheduler:
- Type ‘Task Scheduler’ into the Windows search bar and open the app.
- Create a Basic Task:
- Click ‘Create Basic Task’, name it ‘Scheduled Shut Down’, and click ‘Next’.
- Set the Trigger:
- Choose when you want the task to start – daily, weekly, or monthly – and set the specific time and day, then click ‘Next’.
- Set the Action:
- Choose ‘Start a Program’, click ‘Next’, and type ‘shutdown.exe’ in the ‘Program/script’ field and ‘/s /f’ in ‘Add arguments’ (without quotes).
- Complete the Task:
- Click ‘Next’ and then ‘Finish’ to schedule the automatic shutdown.
Scheduled shutdowns are useful for ensuring that your computer turns off at a set time, which can save power and potentially extend the life of your hardware. However, this method doesn’t provide a way to turn the computer back on remotely, and it’s not flexible if your schedule changes.
A command can be used to remotely shutdown another computer on the same network.
- Enable Remote Shutdown:
- On the target PC, go to ‘Control Panel’ > ‘System and Security’ > ‘Administrative Tools’ > ‘Local Security Policy’ > ‘Local Policies’ > ‘User Rights Assignment’ > ‘Force shutdown from a remote system’, and add the user that will initiate the shutdown.
- Use the Command Line:
- On your PC, open ‘Command Prompt’ with administrator privileges.
- Type in
shutdown /m \[Target PC name or IP] /s /f /t 0(without brackets) and press Enter.
Using the command line for remote shutdown is powerful and instantaneous but requires administrative access and knowledge of command line operations. It could be inconvenient for users uncomfortable with using command prompts and does not provide the means to remotely turn the PC back on.
Some BIOS/UEFI firmware allows for setting timers to automatically power on or off the PC.
- Enter BIOS/UEFI Settings:
- Restart your PC and press the designated key to enter the BIOS/UEFI settings.
- Find the Timer Settings:
- Navigate through the BIOS/UEFI menus to find the ‘Power on By RTC’ (Real Time Clock) or a similarly named function.
- Set the Timers:
- Configure the time and days you want your computer to automatically turn on or off.
BIOS/UEFI timers are great for those who stick to a consistent schedule. They operate independently of the operating system and can turn on the PC even if it’s completely shut down. However, this method doesn’t offer immediate remote access, and changing the settings requires accessing the BIOS/UEFI.
Certain mobile apps provide the ability to remotely access and control your PC, including power options.
- Install the Remote Access App:
- Choose a reputable remote access app that includes power management features and install it on your smartphone and PC.
- Configure the App:
- Follow the instructions within the app to connect your smartphone to your PC.
- Use the App to Control Power:
- Access your PC through the app and use the power management options to turn it on or off remotely.
Mobile apps with in-built functionality can turn your smartphone into a remote control for your PC, offering convenience and requiring minimal technical knowledge. However, these apps might come with a cost, may not support all PC configurations, and the PC generally needs to be on and connected to the internet.
Cloud services offer remote management including power control for PCs.
- Register for a Cloud Service:
- Sign up for a cloud-based management service that supports remote power functionality.
- Install the Required Software:
- Install any necessary software on the PC that you wish to manage.
- Remotely Control Power:
- Log into the cloud service on another device and use the provided tools to remotely turn your PC on or off.
Cloud-based services provide a high degree of control and convenience as they work over the internet and not just the local network. However, they might require a subscription fee, they require the PC to be connected to the internet, and they depend on the reliability of the cloud service.
Dedicated hardware, like remote power switches, can physically toggle power to your PC.
- Purchase Hardware:
- Acquire a remote power switch compatible with your PC’s power requirements.
- Install the Hardware:
- Follow the product instructions to safely install the remote switch between your PC and its power source.
- Use the Remote Control:
- Utilize the provided remote to control power to your PC directly.
Hardware solutions are reliable and aren’t dependent on the PC being in a running state. However, they involve an additional cost, the installation may require a basic understanding of electrical safety, and they might not be the most elegant or convenient solution.
If your BIOS/UEFI supports it, you can configure your PC to power on with a keyboard press.
- Access BIOS/UEFI Settings:
- Restart your PC and access your BIOS/UEFI settings.
- Adjust Power Settings:
- Navigate to power management and find the ‘Power On By Keyboard’ or similar setting and enable it.
- Choose the Key:
- Select the key or combination that will turn on your PC (often the space bar or any key).
Keyboard power-on is straightforward and quick, but it’s limited to when you’re near the PC. It doesn’t allow for remote power control and will only work if the option is supported by the motherboard.
In conclusion, remotely turning your PC on and off has never been more accessible. You have a variety of options, from network-based solutions like Wake-on-LAN to convenient IoT devices such as smart plugs, and from software solutions like remote desktop services to hardware options like remote power switches. In choosing the best method, consider your situation, the level of convenience you desire, and the flexibility you need. What works best for one person might not be suitable for another, so understanding the pros and cons of each option is key. By equipping you with multiple methods to manage your PC remotely, we hope this guide brings a new level of comfort and efficiency to your everyday life.
Can I turn on a PC remotely without any special equipment?
Yes, you can use network-based methods like Wake-on-LAN, given that your motherboard supports it and it’s enabled in your BIOS/UEFI settings.
Are there any risks to remotely turning off my computer?
If you don’t shut down your PC properly (e.g., cutting power via a smart plug), you risk losing unsaved data or corrupting files. Always ensure proper shutdown procedures are followed.
Do I need to keep my computer on for some remote power management solutions?
For some solutions, like Remote Desktop, the computer must be on and connected to the network. However, other solutions like Wake-on-LAN or smart plugs can turn the power on even from a complete shutdown state as long as they’re properly configured.