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PC Power Management with All Power to the User (Part 1)



One of the most powerful barriers to implementing PC Power Management in the workplace is the perceived effect on the user. After all, those desktops don’t exist for the benefit of anyone other than the person using it, and hopefully that person is responsible for helping the company make money! So the last thing that you want to do is to start shutting down computers when:

1 The user is still performing useful work or..

2 The user has gone home but has left a whole bunch of docs open and/or unsaved

I thought it may be worthwhile then to run through our approach to the user when our NightWatchman agent is programmed to perform a shutdown action.

Firstly we have the three basic types of scheduled shutdown, these are decided by the administrator according to the agreed policy.

Passive Mode

If the NightWatchman Administrator has set NightWatchman to work in Passive mode and a user is currently logged on to the PC when a scheduled NightWatchman shutdown has arrived NightWatchman will not attempt to shut down the PC at that time. The only event seen by the user currently logged onto the PC is a balloon popup that appears on the system tray icon telling them that a NightWatchman power down sequence is due. So using this setting it’s still possible to shutdown some systems but ONLY if the user has logged off. NightWatchman can be configured to retry (at preset intervals) later to see if the user has logged off.  If they have then NightWatchman will shut down the PC at that point.

Active Mode

This is probably the most popular operating mode for the majority of our NightWatchman customers. In Active mode the user currently logged on to the computer will see the NightWatchman countdown dialog appear when the time for a scheduled NightWatchman shutdown has arrived.


At this point the user still has the option to interact with the computer during the countdown period, allowing them to close applications or save documents up until the countdown timer expires. Alternatively, the user can select the ‘Shut Down Later’ button and NightWatchman will stop its current attempt to shutdown the machine and will try again after a period set by the administrator. This means that the system will eventually shutdown either when the user has logged off, or is absent from the system when the NightWatchman agent attempts the next shutdown.

Force Mode

If the Administrator has set NightWatchman to work in Force mode the user currently logged on to the system will see the NightWatchman countdown dialog appear when a scheduled NightWatchman shutdown has arrived.  This time however there will be no option to postpone or cancel the shutdown. Using this option means that a much higher percentage of computers will be shutdown at the scheduled time. It can be used in secure environments, where a scheduled shutdown is necessary, or it can be used temporarily on a ‘one off’ basis if for instance you wish to reboot all systems after a critical software update that requires it.


So these are the three basic modes of operation from a user’s point of view. Of course at the moment the scheduled shutdown occurs there is much more to think about, such as unsaved documents etc. I’ll be covering a bit more of the NightWatchman user interface and document backup system in my next post.

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