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The Magic Bullet (uh Packet) for Remote Computers- Wake Up on LAN

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Problem/Challenge:

You have remote computers in you house, you don’t need to have them running all the time, but when you do need them you don’t want to have to go over to the remote location to turn them on.

How do you remotely turn-on a computer from power off state?

You can read a previous article on this site on how to turn a PC “Clunker” into a usable part of your home computer assets.

For example, using FreeNas and a clunker PC (a PC headed for the trash) with only a Hard drive and a CD-ROM drive (no keyset or monitor needed) you can turn this Clunker into a useful member of society.

For example, a home network can benefit, at least, from centralized NAS (Network Attached Storage).  Beyond this FreeNas can server up a Torrent service as well as FTP, iSCSCI, and a bunch of other useful network services that you can use on you home network.

My FreeNas runs in the basement.  I don’t need it to run all the time.  I don’t want to get hacked in to by people on the other side of the world, or this side of the world – for that matter, who have too much time on their hands.  Oh, and green.  Sure.  According to my Kill-A-Watt device that measures power consumption, my idle desktop PC consumes 60 watts of power doing nothing.

So, bottom line, when I want it (FreeNas to run) I want it.  And when I don’t want it – I don’t want it.

How to turn-on that PC running FreeNas in the basement without going into the basement?  Hmmm

WOL (Wake On LAN) to the rescue

WOL has been around for a long time.  From the 100,000 ft view, you send a “magic bullet” (no, not a kitchen device) packet down the wire to the powered off PC and “poof” it powers up.  How that technically happens.. you really don’t need to know or care.  You just need to know that its possible, and, easier than you (I) thought.  The key phase is “Wake on LAN” if you are google-ing.

KISS (Keep it simple)

There is plenty of freeware out that can WOL a PC.  Here is one of them – http://www.profshutdown.com/

You don’t need to install any software on the client PC – the PC that you want to wake up.  The WOL utility that  runs on a host PC that will send the “bullet” down the wire to cattle-prod the target PC is very small and simple.

The key is to have PC that has the WOL feature in the BIOS; not all PC’s have this feature. On the particular PC in the image above, WOL is enabled on the Power tab of the BIOS.  You might have to poke around your PC’s BIOS to find it.  No find – you are out of luck.  If you find it – good for you – enable it.

Then get the software.

The WOL utility from http://www.profshutdown.com is simple and easy to use.

This is the help page

I was able to get all this working in about 15 minutes.

Conclusion

You may have a PC in a remote location that you need to power-on from a distance.  The WOL (Wake on LAN) feature has been around for a long time and is a mature technology.  Some PC’s have this capability, and some do not.

There are plenty of freeware programs that you can use to fire the magic WOL packet down the wire of your local home network to Wake up a powered off (not sleeping) PC.  When you are done using the services of the remote PC, you can,  if you so desire shut it down (assuming you can login) without the worry of having to return to the PC at its physical remote location  to power it back up.

If you have a PC capable of WOL and you have the challenge posted above then give WOL a try.

Remote power-on of a home-networked PC from a physically distant location is  easier to accomplish than you might think.

Resources

NAS for Clunkers (FreeNAS)

http://www.profshutdown.com/

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Written by frrl

January 24, 2010 at 8:25 pm

One Response

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  1. There’s a remote access server MyGreenPC – http://www.mygreenpc.com. Which integrates remote pc access with WOL. So basically you can power-on your pc from anywhere in the world and access it.

    Setting up WOL is a headache though!

    goa

    July 9, 2010 at 8:43 am


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