Powercfg Grows Up
Vista's version gives you more power, literally.
- By Greg Shields
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
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
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.
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.