Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the lights on at MakeUseOf. Read more.
Ever wish you could turn your computer on remotely so it boots up while you’re on your commute home? Or set up a schedule so that all the computers in your office switch themselves on and off so that they’re as energy-friendly as possible? You can do all that and more with software that takes advantage of a featured called Wake On LAN.
Wake On LAN (WoL) is a protocol that goes by a host of different names; Power On LAN (PoL), Remote Wake-Up, Resume by LAN. Its actual usage is straightforward: it’s a means of turning on or awakening a computer remotely via a Local Area Network.
The protocol works by sending a packet of information around your desired network that contains the unique MAC address of the computer that you want to wake up. If a device is Wake On LAN compatible, it’ll be able to receive this packet even when the machine is in low-power mode — once it gets the message, your computer will burst into life. This is where the interesting part begins; many developers have taken this basic functionality and spun it into very useful programs — here are a few of the best on offer.
Straightforward software to use while you get to grips with Wake On LAN.
If you’re looking for some basic Wake On LAN software to get started with, this AquilaTech package will likely offer just what you’re looking for. You’ll be able to control Windows machines remotely, waking them up and shutting them down — even scheduling these processes for a time in the future.
Aquila Tech’s Wake on LAN allows you to fine tune how and when your computer wakes up. It offers smart features like staggered start-ups to prevent power spikes on large networks. It’s a straightforward, no-nonsense way of testing out whether Wake On LAN can be a useful tool for your network — and it’s free.
A more advanced tool for experienced users.
Once you have an idea of what you can do with Wake On LAN, you’ll likely be looking for a program with a broad range of options so you can configure your network in a way that suits your needs. WakeOnLan Tool 2 by Marko Oette can do just that, and it does so with a clean interface that’s free from any needless clutter.
However, while a novice user could probably get up to speed with this software quite quickly, it’s clear that it has been designed with advanced and expert users in mind. This is a program for people who want to go beyond simply switching their machine on and off from afar. To that end, remote desktop software like VNC and terminal utilities like MSTSC and PuTTY can be set up and controlled from within the program.
An intuitive program that can help save power as you download.
Looking for more practical applications of Wake On LAN technology? Here is a tool to automatically power off your computer when it completes a download.
With AMP WiinOFF can set up a protocol that identifies when download activity on your network ceases — meaning that your download has finished — and instruct your machine to power off automatically. Even better, you can combine this with other conditions; for instance, should you only want this to occur at the end of the day, you can stipulate that the rule is only in effect between certain hours.
Comprehensive software well-suited for use in a working environment.
For a Wake On LAN program that can really claim to be an all-in-one package, you’d be hard pushed to find anything quite as capable as TeamViewer. All the basic functionality that you would expect is here — turning computers on and off, controlling your desktop remotely — but it’s backed up by features that really put you in full control of your network. You can transfer files, print remotely, and even host online presentations and meetings.
This might sound like an overwhelming amount of control, but the way that it’s presented to you ensures that you never feel swamped. That’s part of the appeal of this particular package; it’s all assembled in a way that’s very clear and accessible. Team Viewer is ideal for an office environment, because it gives you the control that’s required to look after a large quantity of machines, but presents it in a manner that anyone can quickly become familiar with.
Powerful Wake On LAN tool for your Windows Phone.
Wake On LAN has plenty of applications in a working environment, but it can be just as handy as a means of controlling your own personal computer as it is when you’re looking after every machine in the office — especially when you can use your phone to do so. VoiceWake does just that, allowing you to start up your computer remotely via a slick smartphone interface.
You’ll need to be running Windows Phone 8.1 to take advantage of this, because one of the major features of VoiceWake is its Cortana integration. Simply set up Wake On LAN on the desired computer and make sure you have forwarded the points on your router as the software stipulates, then it’s as easy as verbally telling your phone to shut down your machine — and it’s off. It’s simple stuff, but it puts you in control no matter how far from your rig you happen to be.
What uses for Wake On LAN have you found particularly beneficial? Are there any programs or pieces of software that we have omitted? Let us know in the comments section below.
Image Credits: Remote control Via Shutterstock