Windows XP Power Options Explained

Do-It-Yourself Tech

Changing your power options can be very useful in certain circumstances. In order to access the Power Options Properties box, click on Start > Control Panel > Performance & Maintenance > Power Options. Here’s what you need to know about Power Options:

Firstly, the tabs at the top may differ from computer to computer depending on if you own a desktop computer or a laptop (notebook). The picture to the right shows what you should see if you are accessing power options from a regular desktop computer. The first tab (the default tab) is labeled Power Schemes. Here you can customize different power settings and save each profile, though it’s quick and easy to just change the settings manually each time without the hassle of saving them as profiles.

To change power settings, all you have to do is select whatever options you need from the various drop down boxes, click Apply and then click Ok. The four options are the following: Turn off monitor, Turn off hard disks, System standby, and System hibernates (note that System hibernates may not be an option, as it has to be enabled from the Hibernate tab first).

Turn off monitor does exactly what it says and turns off your monitor. The monitor can be turned back on simply by moving the mouse or pressing a key on the keyboard. It saves some power and is easy to come out of. The next option is turn off hard disks, which stops the physical hard drive – where all your data is saved on the computer – from spinning. This saves more power and can potentially prolong the life of your hard drive. You can resume hard drive activity easily, by moving the mouse or pressing a key on the keyboard, though it takes slightly longer for your computer to wake up in comparison to the monitor setting (but still only a couple seconds, if that).

The next option is System standby, which causes your computer to temporarily stop use of most components, saving even more power. It can seem like the computer is completely off, though it still needs minimal power running through it to stay in this mode. The same mouse or keyboard method can be used to wake the computer out of this mode, though it can take a little longer (a few seconds) than the other two power options.

The last option is called System hibernates. This option requires no power, as it copies an image to your hard disk of your current programs running. You usually need to press the power button for a system to come out of hibernation. It takes much longer to start up but keeps all your previous documents and programs open in the same way they were when you last used the computer. The biggest disadvantage to System hibernates is that it is more likely to malfunction. This can sometimes cause you to restart your computer and reopen any programs and/or documents you had running.

The power options of a laptop computer differ in that there are two sets of these four options, one set for when you are plugged in and one set for when you are running on battery power.

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