Vista is very smart about power management! Use the default settings, you might be pleasantly surprised.

As always, the goal is to make a computer more like other appliances – ready to be used within a few seconds after turning it on.

Any computer – Windows XP, Vista, or Mac – will be slow to start and be usable after it has been turned completely off. Realistically, you’re looking at a delay of 1-2 minutes after you hit the power switch. Yeah, the desktop appears quickly, but you know you can’t really do anything for a while after that.

So the goal is to find a way to leave the computer in a low power state that allows it to come on almost immediately, like a television. These aren’t new terms but let’s review.

  • When a computer goes to sleep, it memorizes what’s onscreen and stores it in RAM, then draws just enough power to keep it there. While it’s sleeping, the computer uses almost no power and it can wake up almost instantly (5-10 seconds) when a key on the keyboard or a button on the mouse is pressed.
  • When a computer hibernates, it memorizes what’s onscreen and stores the information on the hard drive, then shuts itself down so that no power whatsoever is being used. When the power button is pressed, it’s ready to use within 30-40 seconds.

Vista PowerBy default, most Vista desktops go into “hybrid sleep” when the power button by Start is pushed. The computer goes to sleep, but it also puts the information on the hard drive as if it was hibernating. That way it can resume quickly without starting from scratch, even if the power is lost and the “sleep” information in RAM is lost.

dellpower Hybrid sleep isn’t a good choice for laptops – it requires a lot of hard drive activity to park the hibernation info on the hard drive and it’s frequently not necessary since the battery makes it less likely that it will lose the “sleep” memory. I compromise – my laptop goes to sleep when I close the lid or hit the onscreen power button, but it hibernates if I hit the hardware power button. (Hit Start and type in “Power”, then click on “Power Options” – the options for closing the lid and hitting the power button are on the left.)

If the laptop is asleep for long enough to use most of the battery, then it wakes up just enough to store the info on the hard drive and go into hibernation.

This is still not bulletproof but it’s much more likely to work than ever before. The Vista team is very proud of what they delivered – here’s their explanation of what’s been done to reduce energy consumption on AC power, maximize battery life, and still speed up the on/off cycle.

Here are a few more tips.

  • Windows Live OneCare, like most other security programs, will not bring your computer out of sleep or hibernation to do overnight chores. When your computer wakes up, it may want to do a tuneup and slow things down for a half hour. For some reason OneCare wants to do tuneups on laptops more often than the schedule seems to demand. There’s no good answer to this. It can always be cancelled if it’s a problem – right-click OneCare’s animated icon by the clock and cancel the tuneup.
  • If your computer is asleep or hibernating, you cannot access it remotely. If you think you might want to reach your business computer remotely on a Small Business Server network, or if you use LogMeIn or GoToMyPC, don’t let it go to sleep.
  • If you want the battery to last on your laptop, memorize a couple of things.
    • Find the switch that turns the wireless and Bluetooth adapters on and off! Turn off the wireless adapter if you’re not using it.
    • Use the FN + arrow up and down keys to adjust the brightness, and turn it down if you’re on battery. On Dell laptops, use the FN + Auto keys to use Vista’s default settings for screen brightness – full brightness on AC power, dim display on battery.

Now go out and sleep and hibernate happily!

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