Emerging Tech

Configure server, desktop, and laptop power options with Group Policy

IT pros can use Group Policy to ensure that an energy policy is efficiently deployed to computers centrally. Learn how to enforce a power management policy on Windows Server 2008 R2 computer accounts.

A power policy on a PC or a server can drive me crazy. The most common example is the power policy for a new PC or a laptop that hibernates at a ridiculously short interval or shuts off the hard drives sooner than I would like.

In all situations, there is an opportunity to allow Windows to set power policies centrally. In versions of Group Policy since Windows Server 2003, there are increasingly more features available to centrally manage the power policy on Windows systems. For the current level of Active Directory domains running Windows Server 2008 R2, the Power Management section of Group Policy allows us to set specific options for all types of computer accounts. This area of Group Policy is located in Computer Configuration | Policies | Administrative Templates | System | Power Management (Figure A). Figure A

Click the image to enlarge.

The option shown is where I have configured for my Active Directory domain in my home lab to configure computers with a lid (such as laptops) to do nothing when the lid is closed. This is my preference, but it may not be the same for all environments.

Many options are in this area of Group Policy, and we can effectively enforce any power policies that we want to deliver to computers. This can be an area where good communication channels between desktop administrators and the users need to exist. There needs to be a clear understanding that, if a certain condition happens (such as a client system is idle for two hours), it will go to standby. This may impact workflows with some people (such as a process that runs on the client system without interaction). For servers, this can be a good way to enforce display behavior in the Video And Display Settings section. The most common option is to turn off the display when the server is idle. I cannot think of any circumstance when there would be a reason to suspend a server class system.

This section of Group Policy can also enforce the resumption behaviors. For example, when a computer resumes from standby, is the current user required to authenticate? These options can round out the power policy and the security policy in the same area.

Do you use the Power Management section of Group Policy to enforce a power management strategy for client PCs or servers? If not, post to the discussion to let us know how you use that section.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

3 comments
fionacampbell
fionacampbell

Sadly this tip is of limited use. These policy settings aren't supported by pre-vista clients (XP/2003) and will only work on Windows Vista/7. The policy settings can be very useful but have some limitations: a. Don't work on legacy clients (at all) b. Don't resolve PC insomnia c. Don't provide separtate policies for different situations like when nobody is logged on or different times of the day. To get a comprehensive power management system you still need to buy third party software. This is a shame because Microsoft could and should have fixed this years ago. The better products offer much more granular features and some, like Data Synergy's PowerMAN offer reporting. The reporting can make all the difference in larger enterprises to spot problems and fine tune settings. There isn't much point in doing power management if you don't know it is working.

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