If you recently purchased a laptop and want to fine-tune your power settings for different states, such as plugged in or on battery, I’ll explain all the different power options available in Windows 7 and Windows 8. Both operating systems have roughly the same specifications. power settings, so in the article I will use screenshots of Windows 7.
To configure any power options, you first need to go to Start, then to Control Panel, and then click on Power Options. In Windows 8.1, just right-click on the new Start button and select Control Panel from there.
You will now be taken to the main Power Options dialog box with the power plans centered. Microsoft has really simplified this over previous power schemes that were used in Windows XP and Vista. There are now two main ones and a third one that is hidden, but can be viewed by clicking the “View additional plans” button.
By default, Windows will be configured to use a balanced power plan. You can change that, but first let’s take a look at all the options on the left.
– Requiring a password on wake-up is pretty straightforward, but a little confusing because it depends on whether you have a password set for your account. If you do this, then when you return from hibernation or enter hibernation, you will need to enter your password. If you don’t have a password for your account, then asking for a password is irrelevant here and you can still log in, so it’s worth noting.
– Choose what the power buttons do. You will be taken to the same screen as the previous option, but this is only the top part. Here you can choose whether the computer should go to sleep, shut down, or do nothing when you press the power or sleep buttons or close the lid. You can choose between different options for when you are on battery and when you are plugged in.
– Choose what the lid closure does – Not sure why this is here because this opens the same set of options as above.
– Create a power plan – if you don’t like the three default power plans or if you want to change the default settings for one of these three power plans, you can do so here. To create a new plan, give it a name and choose one of the plans as a starting point. Basically, you can adjust the time the computer’s display turns off and the computer enters sleep mode.
– Choose when to turn off the display. This link will take you to the same screen that you will be taken to by clicking the “Change plan settings” link next to the selected power plan. I will explain these options there.
– Change when the computer sleeps – The same set of parameters as in the link above. I will explain below.
Now, to actually see what power plan you have, click on the Change Plan Settings link next to the currently selected power plan.
The main settings you can change are when the display turns off and when the computer enters sleep mode. For a balanced plan, the default settings are shown above. To change other settings, click the Change advanced power settings link.
Here you can practically change all settings related to this meal plan. Some of the parameters are self-explanatory, but some need a little explanation.
1. In the “Hard Drive” section, you will see the option “Turn off hard drive after specified time for battery and power operation”. Note that this is different from the previous screen where you selected the time at which the computer should go to sleep. As you can see in my power settings, the hard drives will turn off after 10-20 minutes, but the computer will stay awake until 15-30 minutes on battery and power respectively. So, first the disks will turn off, and after a while the computer will go into hibernation mode.
2. In the Wireless Adapter Settings section, make sure the Connected is set to Maximum Performance.
3. If you are having problems Windows 7 staying awake or awake, make sure you disable the wake-up timers for both battery and power.
4. There is usually no need to mess around with some of the settings like USB, PCI Express, CPU power management and media settings unless you really understand the technical aspects.
5. In the Battery section, you can customize what happens to your computer when it reaches certain battery states such as critical, low, etc. You can also adjust the percentage for these battery states if you want. The default is 10% low battery and 5% critical battery. You can put your computer to sleep, hibernate, shutdown, or do nothing when these various states are reached.
If someone has changed your power settings and you just want to return them to their defaults, click the Restore Default Plan Settings button. Also, be sure to click on the “Change settings that are currently unavailable” link at the top to see all of the power options, as some of them are hidden as they require administrator rights to change. In my case, I didn’t see any new options, but it depends on the computer.
Hopefully this gives you enough insight into how power options work in Windows 7 and Windows 8 so that you can maximize battery life and reduce power consumption when plugged in. If you have any questions about power options, please leave us a comment. Enjoy!