I'm planning to get my Windows Server 2003 box to boot up using Wake on LAN (WOL), and have a few questions before diving in:

  1. Is WOL a feature of Windows, or of the BIOS and network card, or both?
  2. The Server 2003 box is connected to the switch/router via Ethernet, however, there are laptops that are connected only via wireless. Will these laptops be able to wake the server?
  3. Are there any specific tools I need to enable WOL. From what I understand, there should be something to configure on the server, and some utility on the client side to send the WOL packet.
  4. Is it possible to use WOL accross the internet, or accross a VPN (where the VPN is independant of Windows Server?
  5. The big question - how do I do it?

1) Wake up on LAN is a feature of the BIOS and network card:

Wake-on-LAN support is implemented on the motherboard (BIOS) of a computer and the network interface (firmware), and is consequently not dependent on the operating system (and NIC drivers) running on the hardware, although the operating system can sometimes control the Wake-on-LAN behaviour.


2) The connection type of the machine sending the wake up signal shouldn't matter. As long as it is fully connected to the network they should be able to send the signal.

In case the computer being woken is communicating via Wi-Fi, the wake-up-packet can be sent via Wireless Multimedia Extensions (WMM)

3) There are tools to help you do this, though configuring the Server should just be a matter of setting up the BIOS correctly. The wake up is done by what Wikipedia calls a "Magic Packet" that contains the IP address of the server to be woken and the "wake-up" packet. This can be sent by any script/program that can access the network:

wolcmd 001122334455 7

(from the same Wikipedia page).

4) WOL does work over the Internet.

  • Regarding point 2 about the connectivity of the machine sending the WOL packets: I thought this too but it turned out that my wireless laptop at home couldn't wake up my PC but would when I plugged in an ethernet cable - not sure why that would be. I haven't tested it in any other environment though so I'm not making any suggestions. – emtunc Jul 23 '10 at 10:59
  • @emtunc - do you have a separate wireless router or does the laptop connect via the PC? – ChrisF Jul 23 '10 at 11:20
  • I have a separate wireless router. The PC plugs in with the ethernet and laptop is connected via the wireless. – emtunc Jul 23 '10 at 14:43

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