Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Smart Power Control

I setup an SSH server at home running on my Media Center box. ALL of the shows that I am recording runs at night, so during the day, other than the time it has to download updates or running some batch process, it usually goes to suspend/sleep mode - which of course makes my SSH to become unavailable.

Why not just turn on "Wake up on LAN"? Well, I tried that and it worked, but it also somehow wake up the PC when I don't want it - like in the middle of the night or on a Saturday morning, or several seconds after it goes to sleep. In the end, I basically turn-off "Wake up on LAN" and trying to find a different solution.

Basically, what I want is this:

  1. The PC needs to be on between 8am to 5:30pm - this the window where I usually need my SSH
  2. It also needs to be recording my scheduled recording in Media Center
  3. Other than those, it should be in suspend/sleep mode
A friend of mine suggest moving the SSH into a router running DD-WRT. This is probably the best solution, so I can operate my PC on "Power Saving" mode and just leave the router on. Since I am using a Linksys router that is compatible with DD-WRT, I tried it. The problem is that my router does not have much memory, so not only I have to put the micro_plus_ssh version, but also when SSH is running the router would lock up and I have to reboot it. So after playing with this option for about 2 days, I went back to running my SSH on my Media Center box. Maybe one day when I am buying a new router - I will get one that is much more capable to run SSH on. But now back to original plan.

So for a while I just put my PC to "Never" sleep and just turn it off at night and turn it back on in the morning. I moved all my scheduled maintenance stuff (virus scan, windows update, etc) to morning/afternoon. Obviously this gets to be a pain after a while - especially when I keep forgetting to turn it on or off.

So for now, I use a software called "SmartPower" - where I schedule my PC to be "ON" between certain times and/or when certain parameters are set. Here is an article in LifeHacker about it. The way to use it is basically setting your computer to "Never" sleeps, and let SmartPower take over the sleep management (instead of letting Windows doing it). So, to meet my needs, I set:
  1. In "Schedules" tab to awake / stay on during the weekdays between 8:15am to 11:55pm
  2. Under "CPU" tab, set to 27% - this is for watching recordings past midnight or on weekends
  3. I set my PC to awake when Media Center remote is used
That's it - works flawlessly. Oh - and I replaced the power supply unit into the one that is 80 Plus certified to conserve more power during idle or low processing time while it's on.

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