Standby Issues and some workarounds

Computers don’t die, they only fade away… to become household servers so it seems. A computer typically lasts me about 3-5 years of primary use before it becomes old enough where it just can’t drive the software and / or the operating system that I want to use. Then I tend to purchase an extra hard drive for it, toss on an FTP server and make it a backup server for the house. Having these computers all running would just be a waste of energy so I’m taking advantage of their standby abilities and, where possible, their Wake On LAN ability.

My primary machine an Alienware Aurora Desktop which, through Windows 7, offers a great modified standby feature called “Hybrid Sleep”. This is similar to the well known “Standby”  – meaning that the system will come back to life very quickly and pick up right where you left off.  The “Hybrid” aspect has the computer also dumping its memory to disk a la hibernation in case the power should fail. This causes the computer to take a bit longer to power down – and I don’t need to care because I don’t have to wait for this – but after a power failure restarting the computer also will bring you right back to where you left off without losing anything.

My former primary computer is now a media center PC in my TV room and it’s configured to go into hybrid sleep mode too after about an hour of non use.

My PC prior to that (a PowerSpec 8922) well.. it would be nice if it could work as nicely as the others, it just exists as a host my laser printer but it must be shut down and restarted as I need to print documents (see why below).

Whenever I’m finished using my primary machine, I hit the power button and it goes into Hybrid Sleep mode. I manually turn off the monitors since, even in “powersave mode” they consume about 20 watts apiece.  The power use is absolutely negligible once I’ve done this. Very early each morning, a scheduled task will run that will wake the PC, send a Wake On LAN command to wake up my Media Center PC and then back up my system. When complete both systems go back to sleep. When I get up in the morning I see the reports from the backup waiting for me and I know that all is well.

The Wake on LAN command is sent using a free utility from here. I just unzipped the executable into my bin directory, created a simple batch file that is executed by my backup software as a “program to execute before backing up” and the media center is up and running waiting for the backup process. It works like a charm. My wife’s laptop executes an identical batch file before it starts its backup as well and has no problems.

Quirks:

The PowerSpec 8922 (Running Windows XP) has the annoying habit of going into sleep mode and then NEVER COMING BACK. Whenever I print something I stroll to the back room and boot it up (it’s a 2004 vintage and does not have WOL even if it could come back from standby anyway). Window’s print spooler is patient enough to wait for the PowerSpec to start up and then continue with the print job. I have not been able to find a better solution for this. If the computer is put into sleep the power must be disconnected and reconnected to force it to restart and come back to life.

The Dell Inspiron 530 (Media Center PC running Windows Vista 32 bit) will not go into standby manually. If I click “standby” from the start menu or if I invoke standby by setting the power button to do so it will enter sleep mode and then, maybe a minute later wake up again for no discernible reason. So I just leave it alone and let the power setting time out after an hour and it goes to sleep just fine after that.

On awakening, the AlienWare Aurora Desktop (Windows 7, 64 bit) shows 4 issues:

– The Alienware Thermal controller will fail with the error: System.Net.Sockets.SocketException: An invalid argument was supplied

I have found no solution to this yet.

– Windows Microsoft .NET Framework dies, again indicating that “An invalid argument was supplied.

I have found neither any solution nor any downstream issues caused by this and so have not been motivated to resolve.

– Upon starting iTunes, it reports that the Bonjour service that it relies upon to share music (notably with my Roku sound bridge) has “been disabled“.

For this I created a batch file consisting solely of the following two commands:

Net Stop “Bonjour Service”
Net Start “Bonjour Service”

I then used the Task Scheduler to create a task that ran when it detected that the computer was woken up from sleep which executed this batch file and iTunes has been fine ever since

Trigger
Begin the task: On an Event
Log: System
Source: Power-Troubleshooter
EventID: 1

– Firefox, if it was open, would be unable to connect to the internet.

Restarting Firefox corrects this (I picked up an add on for Firefox to do this via a button on the tool bar). But I became tired of this silly behavior and have since switched to Google Chrome and have fewer issues.

Clearly a lot more work needs to be done by either Alienware, Microsoft or both in sorting these issues out. For me, I’ve got workarounds that are satisfactory for me so I am not hampered by these problems. If there is a problem that I suspect may have something to do with the computer having been in standby, I will reboot it and see if that resolves the issue.

Posted under Tech Stuff, Utils / Tools

This post was written by Marc
on November 7, 2010 at 12:26 pm

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