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Why IT Won't Power Down PCs 576

Posted by timothy
from the sheer-cussedness dept.
snydeq writes "Internal politics and poor leadership on sustainable IT strategies are among the top reasons preventing organizations from practicing proper PC power management — to the tune of $2.8 billion wasted per year powering unused PCs. According to a recent survey, 42 percent of IT shops do not manage PC energy consumption simply because no one in the organization has been made responsible for doing so — this despite greater awareness of IT power-saving myths, and PC power myths in particular. Worse, 22 percent of IT admins surveyed said that savings from PC power management 'flow to another department's budget.' In other words, resources spent by IT vs. the permanent energy crisis appear to result in little payback for IT."
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Why IT Won't Power Down PCs

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  • I just don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

    by York the Mysterious (556824) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:50PM (#27601065) Homepage
    I'm always amazed when large shops have no power savings features enabled. A lot of it has to do with the inability to manage power saving features from within Group Policy. Thankfully Vista added this ability. There is also a tool created for the EPA that adds this functionality to GP. It's a bit of a hack, but it does work. I'm always amazed why companies don't at least turn on the power saving features on their default profiles when they set them up. You set the monitor to turn off after 10 minutes, and you switch from the Always On profile to the Portable / Laptop Profile. Changing the profile enables SpeedStep which saves about 4W at idle and every time the monitor turns off you're saving 30-40 watts depending on the model. It takes about 20 minutes to do this before you deploy and image. It'll pay for itself in a large company in a day and has no impact on automatic updates or virus scans.
  • Re:You don't say..? (Score:5, Informative)

    by MyLongNickName (822545) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @02:57PM (#27601207) Journal

    Depends on perspective, I guess. Since we are an IT board, I think it is good to point this out as an IT problem. If this were a management board, then the question would be how do you properly set up your budgets to hold folks accountable for the areas they should be held accountable for. I know in most organizations, an IT department could institute a power savings plan get no credit for the savings but be responsible for any expenses (new software) to help implement it. And if anything went wrong, some poor IT manager would be left hanging. Can you truly blame the manager for not wanting to stick his neck out for no reward?

  • by furby076 (1461805) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:03PM (#27601307) Homepage
    I disagree with your point that it is not IT's fault. It is their fault. As the owners/managers of their department they should think of ways to help save the company money. They would know better then a CEO what the best computer practices are. Will powering down PCs each night hamper computer updates? What about people who want to remote in? These are decisions IT managers should make - and they should take the bull by the horns and make a smart decision before their boss makes a dumb one.

    Think proactively not reactively and you will find yourself better situated in life. Go to your boss and say "hey I found out a way to save us 5% on our electricity bill, we can power off peoples desk computers" as opposed to your boss saying "hey how come i read an article about saving money on electricity simply by powering off our computers while you did not? OK now power off EVERYTHING at night"....which as you know is pretty DUMB.
  • by iamhigh (1252742) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:08PM (#27601419)
    WHOA, Whoa, whoa... You have SMS and wake on lan enabled and working and you can't get a simple batch file to remotely shut down the computers? Something is wrong with that; shutting down the computer is the EASY part.

    First google result: http://www.astahost.com/info.php/shut-down-restart-log-off-xp-using-batch-file_t3715.html [astahost.com]
  • by chaffed (672859) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:22PM (#27601621) Homepage

    The issue with powering on machines is solved with wake on LAN.

    However, it seems everyone has implemented this differently. I administer a Dell shop. Not all the workstations seem to respond to the same magic packet. The division is across NIC chipset manufacturers. The Broadcoms work one way and the Intels work another.

    In my experience, leaving the machines one is still the best solution.

  • by dcowart (13321) <dzcowart@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:26PM (#27601685) Homepage Journal

    We have deep freeze as well here where I work. We have it turn off the pc's at 11pm. It turns them all on at 2:55am unfrozen, windows update runs at 3am (with the auto-install) also symantec anti-virus runs, and at 4am it refreezes the machines and shuts them back down. Wake-on-Lan will need to be setup on the PC's but this system works very well for patching & updating the machines while also keeping them frozen from mal-ware.

    Let your IT guys know, it should be that simple... at least as far as freezing & updates.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:28PM (#27601703)


    wake on LAN ?

    Requires a special packet sent from within that LAN. Not something that can be pulled off from home, unless you have a second computer running 24/7 sitting in the same network as the first one with a utility that you can run remotely just to turn your computer on.

    Wake on LAN could have been a good idea, but the implementation is so narrow as to be pointless.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:47PM (#27602037)

    I see your problem. You think managers are logical and considerate. You are wrong, sadly.

    I worked for the state of Georgia a few years back, during my time there our group cut our districts IT costs essentially in half, not my doing or anything but it happened either way.

    At the end of the year we had a large amount of cash left over in our budget because of the ways we came up with to save during the year.

    You know what happened? We spent almost every dime we had left over doing stupid training for things we were perfectly qualified to manage already because our next years budget would be based on what we spent the previous year.

    So ... rather than doing our jobs well and being rewarded by getting a little more consideration when we actually NEEDED the money in the future, we had to waste it to ensure that we'd get the funds next time around, even though we knew we wouldn't need them unless something unforeseen happened or that we'd need the money in a couple years when the next round of upgrades/replacement needed to occur. You simply can't budget properly in that state because once you've given some money back, getting an increase later is next to impossible, you have to ramp up over several years in order to get some extra for upgrades/replacements of major systems.

    It was worse than just that however, not only did we have a surplus that we wasted, we had other groups in our district that had surpluses as well, which rather than losing the funding the following year they would figure out ways to funnel the money to us (legitimately) so we could spend it on new equipment to justify their budget.

    The other groups had extra money because they would get grants and federal funding to do projects, but the funding wouldn't be around the following year, so to continue those public health projects in the future, they really needed to keep their allotment for the next year high enough to pay for everthing.

    I write this comment and still think it was absolutely retarded, but those poor bastards that were actually doing the work couldn't do 'the right thing' because it would only screw them within a couple of years because managers and politicians up stream are so broken and stupid that they reward wastefulness and punish efficiency.

    There really is no reason that your typical government worker wants to be efficient, they just get punished for it later. Try to remember that next time you go to the health department, DMV or whatever government office and you see them doing something that seems like a complete and utter waste of resources. They probably are fully aware of it, but have to do it anyway so they don't get fucked later and end up with too little money and some stupid politician asking them why they ran out.

  • by jaseuk (217780) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @03:53PM (#27602155) Homepage

    I think the point is really that IT have no incentive to spend money on software/systems to manage the shutdown of machines when the power savings do not contribute back into their budget. Worse still users who helpfully turn off computers and peripherals often accidently switch off other things like printers, hubs and routers (in small offices now). Queue irrate staff at 08:00am who cannot login because a colleague switched off some equipment.

    Jason.

  • by Dotren (1449427) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:01PM (#27602311)

    Unless you're using an absolutely ancient version of Deep Freeze, there should be an option to update the Maintenance Config file on each machine. In this config file, which is configured and deployed through the management console, you can set times for updates and even what you want the computer to do when finished (restart, shut down, etc).

    What will happen is, 5 minutes or so before the scheduled update time a message will appear on each frozen PC that warns of the approaching restart. The computers will then reboot into maintenance mode which basically just means they are set to the "thawed" state (all changes will be saved). The computers do their business and then restart again back into frozen state at the designated time, this time saving all of the downloaded and updated information.

    You can also have Deep Freeze talk to a server set up with WSUS. WSUS slowly downloads updates from Microsoft, and come time for the PCs to update, they can be set to talk to it instead of going out to the internet. This can decrease your time to update and network load depending on what your internet backbone is like.

    All that being said, Deep Freeze can be somewhat of a pain in the butt, at least the version I've used can be. Microsoft has a similar solution to Deep Freeze now called SteadyState that does disk protection as well as fires off Automatic Updates and AV updates (with some tweaking) at specified times. It's also free, assuming you have a validated genuine copy of Windows.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:07PM (#27602457)

    Actually; as an EE, Lawyer and Doctor I can confidently say the worst thing you could do would be to shit inside it and then throw it into the ocean. I say this based on 32 years of experience.

  • by BlackSnake112 (912158) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:11PM (#27602515)

    XP has been able to do that forever. It is under power settings. There is even a button on the screen saver selection to get there. New installations have a 20 minute (maybe 30 minute) turn monitor off (put it in power save mode) for desktops. But if the domain rules are in place that override that setting, all bets are off.

  • by ACMENEWSLLC (940904) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @04:35PM (#27602879) Homepage

    If you have an AMD PC with the AMD Processor drivers, or a modern Intel, then configure your PC's power management mode to be "Minimal power management." This is under control panel, display, screen saver, power.

    When you do this, it turns on Processor Throttle (AC) ADAPTIVE. This means that your AMD or modern Intel will power down the fans and CPU. Your 2.6Ghz CPU may power down to 933Mhz while you are not doing anything.

    Don't worry, it will still go up to 2.6Ghz if you do something.

    How about offering this up as step 1 of power savings? powercfg allows you to set these things up during machine login scripts for machine values, and if you grant the proper rights to your users a user login script can modify these settings for user settings. Machine settings take effect when no one is signed on (If not set, it runs full open) and user settings take effect when a user is signed on, and is per user.

    powercfg /query

  • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @05:14PM (#27603621)

    To reply to my own post.. two other things to work around..

    - If you can turn off all PC's, you can turn them all on. Force all machines on at 2am via WoL, check for updates, and shut off when done. Its actually pretty easy to setup.

    - Use that same WOL tool to turn on all computers at 7:45 or a bit earlier, so that the virus scan updates, and general booting of the services, is done before the people log in a few minutes before 8am..

  • by UnrefinedLayman (185512) on Thursday April 16, 2009 @06:17PM (#27604417)
    Yeah, that sounds about right [depicus.com]. Good thing you put so much research [google.com] into your post. It's a good thing mods don't let being right get in the way of sounding right.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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