Windows 7, like earlier versions of Windows, has power-saving functions built into it and already activated by default.
For example, after a short period of time, the built-in screensaver will kick into operation. Not too long after that, the monitor will go blank to conserve electricity. Similarly, and again by default, Windows will power down the hard drive(s). Finally, Windows will put the computer to sleep. At that point, the computer’s motherboard is still awake. The computer will awaken if you press a keyboard key or move your mouse.
Fortunately, Microsoft also added features that allow us, as the users, to change when and if our computer powers down or sleeps.
In order to review your computer’s Power Options settings, and to make changes to those settings, you need the Power Options dialog box, which is part of the Control Panel.
To open the Power Options dialog box, click on the Start Orb, then Control Panel. The next part’s a little tricky — if you’re set to Category view (which is the default), you get category headers in green and a few links below them that are blue. The trick is that the headers are also links. Click on System and Security.
Now, one of the headings of the new dialog box is Power Options. Click on it.
The resulting dialog boxes has two options that we’ll review:
- " Change when the computer sleeps"
- "Choose what the power buttons do"
First, let’s look at options for " Change when the computer sleeps."
The two options are:
- Turn off the display
- Put the computer to sleep
The options for both functions give the user an opportunity to set the delay before the function takes place. Note that Never is one of the options, in case you’re interested in that. Never may be useful depending upon what you are running on the computer. For example, my home theater PC has its sleep setting as Never.
Windows also as features for the user to change the way the power button and the sleep button work.
Now, let’s look at the options for "When I press the power button."
There’s a drop-down option box to the right. The four options, which are in order of significance or severity of the action, are:
- Do nothing
"Do nothing" is pretty self-explanatory. You might use this if you have a young child who likes to press buttons. Other than that, I’m not sure how useful that option is.
"Sleep" is the state that your computer will enter, by default, if you leave it on and stop using it, for example, while you go shopping or overnight. When you press a key on your computer or move your mouse, your computer will wake up as if it had never been asleep.
"Hibernate" is an entirely different function. When you trigger your computer to hibernate, it copies the entire contents of the computer’s RAM memory to a large hibernation file on your hard drive. When you want to wake up your computer from hibernation, press the power button. Instead of the normal Windows boot-up process, the hibernation file will be copied back to the computer’s RAM memory. You end with the same programs and data files open that you had open when you triggered the hibernation, all ready to go.
The final option is "Shutdown." This option triggers the Windows Shutdown process. Of course, that’s what you want to do when you finish and want to turn off your computer. This is entirely different that cutting the power to your computer (which you never want to do, unless you have performed a Shutdown and your computer is off.
If your computer crashes or otherwise gets hung at any time, you can press and hold the power button for 10 seconds. This triggers the motherboard to shut down.
This is entirely different that turning off the power to the computer.