We have about 600 Windows XP PCs in a school of about 2000 students, the majority of the PCs are in ICT suites and class rooms. It is a regular occurance that half of the computers are left on overnight and about a quarter at weekends and holidays.

I would like to find a way of shutting down the computers when they are not in use, there are some additional requirements:

  • Shutdown should not be initaited if a user is logged on.
  • Computers should be shutdown after 60 - 90 minutes of idle time - this avoids the long start up times for classroom computers that delay the start of the lesson.
  • An automatic shutdown if not in use at a specific time (say 1800).
  • There should be some way of globally disabling it for Open Evenings, Parents Evenings, etc.

Looking for products, either paid-for, free or script based.

After looking at Auto Shutdown Manager and EZ GPO Tool I decided to use the solution I found for the following reasons:

  • Auto Shutdown Manager was able meet all of the requirements, however even as a school it would cost £300 to licence it across the site (50p per computer, isn't much compared to the £10 - £25 pear year it costs to have them on overnight).
  • EZ GPO Tool is unable to actually shut a PC down only suspend/sleep the monitor and PC.
  • PowerDown is able shut the computers down after 60 minutes of inactivity, if and only if the computer is not in use, and can be disabled on a per machine basis. It is also free, only using PsShutdown and PsLoggedOn.

PowerDown is installed through a startup script, to copy the three files to the \Windows\System32 directory on each Workstation, a scheduled task is then created to trigger after 60 minutes of inactivity.

5 Answers 5


Auto Shutdown Manager should do this for you and I believe they have a discounted licence availible for school use.

  • Looks good, I shall take a look. May 1, 2009 at 12:33

The EZ GPO Tool might be worth a look too...

  • I have used EZ GPO Tool before, it worked well enough but couldn't cope with logged on users. I shall take another look. May 1, 2009 at 12:23
  • After trying PowerDown it kind of worked, however I needed to use EZ GPO Tool to set the sleep time higher than that of PowerDown. Jun 1, 2009 at 8:03

Found PowerDown in my searching, uses psshutdown and psloggedon and a couple of batch files to schedule a shutdown, so it is free. Dosn't meet all of my requirements but could probably be configured to do so.

  • Just a note that this uses schtasks.exe, which is a Windows XP-only tool. You can hexedit the tool to run on 2000 and it appears to work OK, but I'm sure there's a reason for not doing that. Jun 24, 2009 at 15:17

There's a simple way to schedule your shutdown or restart Windows Machine. http://www.itbox4vn.com/2011/05/how-to-schedule-windows-server-20032008.html. Check out the idle part. Have fun!

  • Good solution for a few PCs however with 700+ this method is difficult to deploy and debug. May 28, 2011 at 17:35

You can also look into using GPO Preferences; you can set things for XP using this, but you have to run the tools on Vista or 2008.

  • I have looked into Group Policy options several times, there is however no mechanism for shutting down the system based upon a set of rules. If you have a specific example, I would relish the opertunity to give it a go. May 1, 2009 at 12:21
  • Unfortuantley there is no ADM template in group policy for power settings in Server 2003, however server 2008 adds this capability when using Vista (and windows 7) clients
    – Sam Cogan
    May 1, 2009 at 12:46

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