A lot of PC enthusiasts leave their computers on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. After all, you never know when you’ll need to get a quick task done, and it’s a pain to have to wait for your computer to wake up from sleep mode, or (worse!) to boot.
Still, a high-end PC can use a lot of electricity, and leaving yours on overnight can have a significant effect on your monthly energy bill. So, how can you get your computer to automatically shut down overnight, but not while you’re using it?
We’re going to show you how to use a free program called AllOff to do just that.
1. Install AllOff
The AllOff installation’s pretty much a no-brainer: Just download and run the installer from JSutils at http://bit.ly/grnvCR. The first time you run the program after installing it, you’ll be asked for a registration code (below). Don’t panic—as long as you’re using AllOff for personal use only, getting a registration key is free and automated. Just hit up the registration page at http://bit.ly/ghVfXU, and enter a name and a valid email address.
2. Customize AllOff
After registering AllOff, the program will disappear into your taskbar. When you double-click the AllOff icon in the taskbar, you’ll see a very simple AllOff info pane (below). Alarmingly, AllOff will be threatening to turn your computer off after 10 minutes of inactivity. Assuming you don’t want that, click the Configure button.
The configuration menu is where you can customize AllOff to shut down your computer at exactly the right time. There’s a daunting array of options to customize (below), but here’s what you should focus on:
This setting is the most important, since it allows us to make sure that our automatic shutdown only happens at night, after we’ve gone to sleep. By default the setting accepts a number of seconds to wait before the program activates, but if you click the Fixed Time checkbox you can enter a time of day. Enter 23:00 if you want to make sure that your computer doesn’t shut down before 11:00 p.m.
Key & Mouse Delay
This setting is probably the most basic—it is the amount of time (in seconds) that the computer has to receive no input before it’s fair game to shut it down. The maximum value for this field is 30 minutes (or 1,800 seconds), which is probably a safe value if you want to make sure you’re well and truly done using the PC before it can shut down.
CPU Averaging, Threshold, and Delay
These are the options that allow us to make sure that AllOff doesn’t turn off the computer while it’s doing something important, like transcoding a video or downloading a file. The Averaging value can be left alone, but you’ll have to set the Threshold based on the performance of your system. If you’ve got a machine that hums along, you can set this down low. On the other hand, if your machine idles at 30 percent or more CPU usage, you’ll either have to bump up this setting or disable it altogether by unchecking Enable CPU Check. The CPU Delay box just defines how long the CPU has to be below the threshold before shutdown is enabled; you can probably leave this at a minute or two.
Shut Down Time, Type
Finally, these two settings let you define how exactly the shutdown will work. The Shut Down Type drop-down box lets you choose what type of shutdown you want to do (shut down, hibernate, restart, etc.) and the Shut Down Time box lets you specify how much warning time your system gets before it’s shut down. Unless you uncheck the Forced box, the shutdown will force any programs with unfinished business (unsaved documents, for instance) to shut down.