Troubleshooting Sleep Mode Device Wake-Up with Powercfg

by Chris Sanders [Published on 20 Jan. 2011 / Last Updated on 30 Nov. 2009]

Leveraging sleep mode can have a very positive impact on both your network and your budget. However, there are some devices that may cause you grief when your computer wakes up. We can use the update powercfg utility to troubleshoot this.

The use of sleep mode allows you to conserve power by forcing an inactive workstation to reduce processing power, shut off hard drives, and disable video output. Enforcing an organization-wide power saving policy on workstations can be very budget-friendly and aide in “green” efforts.

A potential problem with putting workstations to sleep is that not all devices are capable of waking up. When a workstation goes to sleep it does minimal processing and stops all hard-disk I/O. In order to properly wake up a device has to recognize that the computer has gone to sleep, and that it should recognize the wake up procedure rather than expecting a full boot sequence.

The powercfg utility, newly updated as of the release of Windows Vista, contains a great function for troubleshooting this. We can output a list of all of the system devices that support sleep mode by typing the following command: powercfg –devicequery wake_from_any.

If your workstation is not reinitializing your NIC or sound card after going into sleep mode then you will want to ensure that it is in this list. If it’s not, there is no need to panic. The ability to recover from sleep mode is typically a feature of the hardware driver. This means that rather than purchasing new hardware you can simply update or replace the driver on your system!

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The Author — Chris Sanders

Chris Sanders is a network security analyst for EWA Government Systems Inc. Chris is the author of the book Practical Packet Analysis as well as several technical articles. His personal website at contains a great deal of information, articles, and guides related to network administration, network security, packet analysis, and general information technology.

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