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Powercfg Grows Up

Vista's version gives you more power, literally.

If you've ever used the Powercfg command-line tool in Windows XP to force your processor to run at maximum performance, then you may have noticed that Vista's Powercfg is substantially different than previous versions.

In XP, Powercfg is limited to a few settings like monitor, disk, standby and hibernate timeouts, as well as processor throttling. In Vista, it grows up, adding the capability to control wireless adapters, USB settings and display brightness. Power plans are now expanded so administrators and even hardware manufacturers can create multiple plans that link to each other.

Unfortunately, along with Powercfg's expansion in muscle mass comes a fitting expansion in complexity. Thankfully, Vista also comes with two ADMX files you can add to your Group Policy that eases the pain of implementing global power plans.

 

 

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From a Vista machine, navigate to C:\Windows\PolicyDefinitions and copy the power.admx and power.adml files to your Group Policy Central Store. Then open the GPMC. You'll see a load of new power options that interface with Vista's Power Management to give you centralized control over power options. Now, you can use Group Policy to manage the power plan for your workstations, when their monitors turn off and when systems go into hibernate mode.

Tip: Need to know how to create a Group Policy Central Store? Check out the February 2007 issue of Redmond Magazine for Greg's Windows Insider column.

Central control of power plans can help save your company between $10 and $30 per monitor per year and between $15 and $45 per computer per year. Even a small network can stand to save a bunch of money with careful control of power settings. Plus, you're helping out the environment and doing more to stave off global warming. For more information about the dollars and sense of power management, check out the Energy Star Web site.

One thing to know if you use Group Policy to control power plans is that Microsoft has changed the permissioning on power management to allow any user to modify power settings. If you want central control you may need to restrict that ability. Check out Microsoft's document titled "Power Policy Configuration and Deployment in Windows Vista" for details.

About the Author

Greg Shields is Author Evangelist with PluralSight, and is a globally-recognized expert on systems management, virtualization, and cloud technologies. A multiple-year recipient of the Microsoft MVP, VMware vExpert, and Citrix CTP awards, Greg is a contributing editor for Redmond Magazine and Virtualization Review Magazine, and is a frequent speaker at IT conferences worldwide. Reach him on Twitter at @concentratedgreg.

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