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I've been trying to make wake-on-lan work in Windows XP and I've succeeded partially. If I turn off my computer 'the right way' I can wake the machine using the magic packet without a problem. If I turn off computer by pressing and holding the power button I cannot start it up.

I've found some reports that I'm not the only one observing this behavior but without clear explanation.

Is this a normal behavior for wake-on-lan? If so, can someone explain the technical background behind this? What is the difference between different types of shutting down the machine and how it affects wake-on-lan?

  • OS: Windows XP
  • Motherboard: Gigabyte m55s-s3
  • Up to date NIC drivers and bios
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Power cuts will have the same affect. After testing the "work around" we've found is to set computers that have a loss of power to start up, even if they are turned off when the loss of power happens. This scares me so it's a manual turn on. –  Tubs Jan 14 '10 at 9:03

3 Answers 3

When powered down to the correct state, name name of which varies from brand to brand of motherboard, not only is the NIC left partially powered on (you'll see the lights blink due to traffic on the network) but the motherboard itself has certain circuitry powered up. That circuitry responds to the signal from the NIC telling it to power back up. Other shutdown modes will prevent one or both those components from being powered up, so the wakeup signal is either not recognised by the NIC or the motherboard doesn't see the signal from the NIC.

As far as "solving" this goes, I have no real ideas. I've also been struggling for years to get it consistently right. Every time I get a new machine I have to start all over. Further, some machines are more cooperative in this regard than others. Some I've had will sometimes wake up but other times won't, even when they've been shut down the same way every time.

My only conclusion is that this is one area the manufacturers need to come to some sort of agreement. They could start with some consistent naming scheme for the various power states.

I better stop there, otherwise people might get the idea this is a pet hate of mine.

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I not aware of this, but this could be a difference on how your motherboard handle both shutdown.
The first one, a normal shutdown, probably keep the ethernet controller powered to make it handle WOL packet while the hard shutdown would completly unpower all device.

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radius is correct. When you shutdown a machine the normal 'method' the ethernet controller remains to have power going to it, 3.3v i believe. When you 'hard' power off a machine it doesn't put it in a listening state. As this is done via drivers and not hardware.

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