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Does Windows Keep You Awake at Night?

June 14, 2011

I hope this post will help somebody if they have the annoying problem that faced me, because it was simple to fix once I knew where to look, but until then I did not find any reference that helped.

I have a Windows PC at home, and frequently it woke itself up during the wee hours of the night. I must be a light sleeper because the PC is in another room, yet something about the monitor glow and/or fan noise is enough to cajole me awake every time. I usually woke shortly after 3 a.m., but not every night, which made it more frustrating: it occurred frequently enough to be annoying, but not often enough to identify a predictable pattern.

My suspicion is that some newly installed software (or perhaps an OS update) configured itself to schedule a task at this time. But scanning through the Windows task scheduler (which contains a surprising number of entries without an easy to way to navigate them), I didn’t find any that should be firing at that time, or that were configured to wake the computer from sleep. I tried disabling ones that went off in the middle of the night anyway, but this still did not prevent it from reoccurring.

I scoured the event logs to determine what it observed during those times, and didn’t find a clue either. It did record events that were scheduled as background tasks, but none were allowed to wake the system, they were just overdue tasks that happened to take advantage of the fact that the machine was now on to start up and do whatever it is they do.

I checked the webs to see if others observed the same or had solutions, and found the same advice again and again: disable the network adapter from waking the computer. That was one of the earliest things I tried (in addition to disabling the mouse and keyboard wake up, just in case my cat was responsible, even though he’s in bed-hog mode at 3 a.m.) I also found various other kinds of voodoo, and even detailed advice that failed to turn up any solution for me.

I imagine for most people the network adapter is the issue, but this was even more frustrating because no one seemed to have my problem. The sea of links that recommended either only disabling network adapter, or other more desperate things, obscured an obvious solution I stumbled upon by accident, right in the power options (Control Panel\All Control Panel Items\Power Options\Edit Plan Settings). The “Change advanced power settings” link brings up a dialog box where you can tune the sleep settings. By disabling wake timers, my computer ceased to rise on its own, letting me finally to pay off some sleep deficit.

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