Power Options in XP

Before you start

Objectives: learn how to configure power options on XP machine

Prerequisites: you should read about Power Options in general first.

Key terms: power, scheme, option, acpi, conserve, advanced, battery

Power Schemes

Windows XP introduced Power schemes which we can use to quickly set the appropriate power options. For example, one of the Power schemes can be for Home/Office Desk. In our Home/Office default settings is that after 20 minutes of inactivity system automatically powers off our monitor. This makes us Green Star compliant and it allows us to conserve power, which is very important. Presentation Power scheme is used when we don’t want our computer to power off at all. In Presentation scheme everything is always on. This allows the presenter to continue to talk without worrying that the computer will hibernate or go into the Standby mode. Another interesting power scheme is Portable/Laptop scheme.This scheme will shut down various devices based on inactivity to preserve battery power. For example, system will shut down monitor after 15 minutes by default, hard drive after 30 minutes and after some determined idle time, other additional devices as well. Of course, we can edit these Power schemes to further conserve power.

Example Configuration

We can change the way that our computer uses power. This is useful if we want to conserve energy, prolong the battery life of the portable computer or configure a UPS. To customize Power Options let’s go to the Start Menu > Control Panel > Power Options. We will start by looking at the Power Schemes tab.

Power Schemes

Image 212.1 – Power Schemes

Here we can configure the computer to turn off the monitor or hard disks when the computer has been idle for a while. Notice that for the Home/Office Desk scheme, monitor will be turned off after 20 minutes by default, but hard disks will not be turned off. Let’s say that this computer is a laptop, so we will want to select the scheme which will conserve the battery. If we change the scheme to the Portable/Laptop, our monitor will be turned off after 15 minutes and hard disks after 30 minutes, by default. We can edit the scheme to further conserve power. To do that, just choose different option from ‘Turn of monitor’ drop-down menu or from ‘Turn of hard disks’ drop-down menu. If we are doing a presentation, we should change to the Presentation power scheme, so that our computer can always be on. The Presentation scheme is different from Always On scheme. In Always On scheme, by default, monitor will turn off after 20 minutes, while in Presentation scheme everything is always on. Let’s go to the Advanced tab.

Advanced Tab

Image 212.2 – Advanced Tab

In Advanced tab we can set the ‘Prompt for password when computer resumes from standby’ option which is very useful setting. Here, we can also set the power button options. We can configure what will happen when we press the power button on our computer. We can configure it to shut down, do nothing or to ask us what to do. Let’s take a look at the Hibernate tab.

Hibernation Tab

Image 212.3 – Hibernation Tab

Notice that hibernation is not enabled on this machine. When our computer hibernates, it stores all the memory content to the hard disk and then shuts down the computer. Hibernation will use as much disk space as we have RAM installed on our machine. Let’s look at the UPS tab.

UPS Options

Image 212.4 – UPS Tab

If this computer was connected to a UPS, we would use the ‘Select…’ button to identify the UPS.


We can change the way that our computer uses power. This is useful if we want to conserve energy, prolong the battery life of the portable computer or configure a UPS.