Idle Timer – Definition, Detection and Analysis
What does “idle” mean and why is it so important?
In the sense of power management, idle means that a computer is powered on but it isn't running any productive or useful code. Idle PCs just consume energy and produce heat.
Typical idle times are for example:
- After work & on weekends – (20%-30% of users forget to switch off their computers at work)
- Lunch times
- The rest of the night after long backups, virus scans, patch management etc.
- The rest of the night after long downloads, movie compressions, DVD burnings
- Time between periodic activities such as “every 2 hours do …”
- There are many other examples of how computers can waste energy without being productive
The goal: minimize idle times to maximize power savings
The challenge: prevent unwanted shutdowns
Does shutting down computers at a certain time minimize idle time?
One idea to avoid energy waste – at least overnight - could be to define fixed times – say 30 minutes after work – and switching off all computers at that time. Most solutions do just this.
This idea sounds great at first glance – but in practice, it doesn't really work. Just imagine there is a long, unplanned meeting going on … or that a user has just connected to a Live Meeting for a PowerPoint presentation late in the evening. Some of our customers are hospitals without any set “opening” and “closing” hours… Computers are used on demand and at any time – so the power management solution has to be able to deal with such flexible working models while trying to maximize energy savings.
Bottom line: in most cases, simply shutting down computers at a set time is not a good solution – ultimately, it causes many issues, frustration for users and has a negative impact on their work efficiency.
This is where intelligent idle definition and detection come into play
With an intelligent idle definition we can tell the system what we consider to be productive. For example we could tell the system that an active backup process, burning a DVD, virus scan, TV recording, presenting a PowerPoint etc. are productive tasks for us.
In addition, we also could tell the system that all times between Mondays – Fridays 8am – 1pm are productive for us, too.
The system would keep the computers on whenever and as long as they are performing productive tasks or are in productive times, as defined by the administrators (or the users, if allowed to).
The ideal solution is to configure fixed up times whenever needed and intelligent idle analysis at all other times.
Idle Detection - How does it work?
The idle definition allows very easy analysis such as simply the load on the CPU, HDD utilization, currently running applications, use of the mouse and the keyboard, scheduled tasks, or even analysis of any sounds or noises around the computer.
However, idle analysis can also be more complex when needed. Some examples are:
- network traffic
- presence of Terminal Sessions
- pending documents in the printer queue
- analysis of any running process or service and the current activity levels
- state of any network device- may it be inside the LAN or somewhere else in the world
- state of the backup process
- active virus scanner
- current memory usage
- ongoing TV recording
- time based - define times in which PCs are seen as productive and won't be shutdown, no matter what they really do.
- just to mention a few - there are many others…
Whenever the idle detection system identifies any productive task or time, it resets the idle timer and keeps the computer powered on.
The powerful combination of a flexible scheduler and the intelligent Idle Detection are just a few unique attributes that set Auto Shutdown Manager above all other solutions on market.