How to Wake on LAN in Windows 10
Have you ever wished you could remotely access your computer or some files on it without having to keep it on all the time? You’ll be glad to learn that it’s possible to do that, and without much effort.
There’s a feature called Wake-on-LAN that has been present in computers for well over a decade now. This allows you to “turn on” a computer without needing physical access. Turning on is a bit of a misnomer since the computer is never truly off, but rather on very low power mode. As such, you can think of it as waking it up.
Most modern computers will have the capability to use Wake-on-LAN. What follows is a brief overview of the technology and instructions on how to enable it on your computer.
As you learned in the introduction, Wake-on-LAN, or WoL for short, is a type of protocol used to wake up computers remotely. To use this feature, your motherboard and ethernet card must be compatible with it. It is very likely that they are if you’re running Windows 10. The configuration takes place on your computer’s BIOS. Unless you have a standalone ethernet card, your onboard adapter will be compatible with the BIOS.
WoL uses what’s known as a magic packet to ask a computer to “wake up.” The magic packet consists of a payload containing the target computer’s MAC address. The WoL-enabled computer is constantly listening for the packet, and when it arrives, it will trigger a protocol that starts it. There’s no point in getting any more technical than that. All you really need to know is that the packet is a message that wakes a sleeping computer.
It’s more likely than not that your motherboard will have the configuration for WoL already put in place, but it’s a good idea to check for it anyway. First, you’ll learn how to configure your motherboard.
Enabling Wake-on-LAN in the BIOS
Your computer’s Basic Input-Output System (BIOS) is a utility used to configure certain critical functions on your device. The sensitive nature of the configuration requires it to take place before the computer fully boots up. To access the BIOS, you have to press a key while the computer is booting. Which key accesses your BIOS depends on your motherboard’s manufacturer. If you know the brand for your motherboard, you can easily find this with a Google search.
The BIOS key will be displayed shortly during the boot process, giving you enough time to press it. Once in the BIOS, it’s going to take some know-how to find the WoL settings. Look around in the options. You’re searching for “Advanced” or “Power” menus. By way of an example, ASRock motherboards have the option listed as “PCI device power on” in the Power settings. Alternatively, search your motherboard manufacturer’s website for specific instructions on where to find this on your machine.
All you have to do is make sure that the option is enabled in your BIOS. Once that’s done, save your settings and restart your computer.
Enabling Your Ethernet Adapter
The other side of the equation is your ethernet adapter. It needs to be set up to receive the magic packets and to know what to do with them. You can do this in the adapter’s properties menu. Follow the steps outlined here:
- Access your Device Manager using your Windows search bar or by pressing Win + X and selecting it from the hidden menu.
- Find your ethernet adapter listed under Network Adapters.
- Right-click on the adapter and select Properties from the drop-down menu.
- In the Properties dialog box, look for the Power Management
- The Power Management tab has a series of options. Make sure to check “Allow this device to wake the computer” and “Only allow a magic packet to wake this computer.” Then check off “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.” Perform the actions in that order.
Now that you’ve configured the power management, click on the Advanced tab. Here you will see a list of properties. Scroll down until you find Wake on Magic Packet, highlight it, and select Enable in the menu directly to the right. Once you’ve completed all this, click OK, and you should be good to go.
How to Use Wake-on-LAN
When you need to wake your computer using WoL, you’ll probably already have the means to use it. That’s because most of the applications that could require WoL have built-in capabilities for activating it. Software that uses or enables remote access will generally have the ability to send a magic packet.
If you need to wake your computer remotely for other reasons, there’s software designed for that purpose. You can download a very lightweight application from the Windows store, aptly named Wake On Lan. To use the app, all you need is the name and MAC address of the networked computer you want to wake up. To find your MAC address, access the Network and Sharing Center in your Control Panel. Click on Ethernet and then on the Details button. It will be listed under Physical Address.
Rise and Shine
At this point, you should be well-versed in the basics of Wake-on-LAN technology. If you have any problems getting it to work, update your ethernet adapter’s driver, as it is a common cause of problems. Your computer may already have all the settings on by default, but it doesn’t hurt to double check. Find the option in your BIOS and enable it. Following that, adjust your ethernet adapter’s configuration and you’re set.
Tell us in the comments what uses you’ve found for Wake-on-LAN. If this protocol didn’t exist, what kind of workarounds do you imagine people would use?