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Help File Help: Windows Insomnia

Periodically, I use this space to try out a recipe for my Help File column... or ask for your help in crafting one. Here's another issue that's stymied so far: You set a Windows computer to go into standby mode automatically--as I've outlined before, a good idea on both environmental and economic grounds--and yet it refuses to do so.

Readers have reported this problem with dismaying regularity, and occasionally I've seen the same issue on the Dell laptop at home: Despite being set to snooze after an hour of idle time, it would refuse to do so unless I forced the issue by closing its screen.

I asked the readers at my Web chat yesterday for insight into this problem but didn't get much. One person said Windows Vista had fixed things, while another said that even in Vista the laptop would still fail to sleep automatically at times.

So I'd like to gather some more data on this problem. If you have a Windows computer that won't sleep on its own:

- What's the make and model of the PC?
- What version of Windows are you running?
- What anti-virus programs do you have active on it? (I've seen them occasionally block standby mode)
- Do you have a screensaver set to run?
- Does your computer have all the available BIOS updates from its manufacturer?

(I'm limiting this query to Windows computers because Macs are largely free of this problem; if your Mac is having trouble nodding off, try the remedy listed in the second item of this Help File column.)

I'm also assuming that you do have your computer set to go into standby mode automatically, but if you don't know how to do that, this old how-to piece at Microsoft's site explains the available settings.

But what I'd most like to know is this: If you've gotten the computer to get back to a healthy sleep cycle, how did you do it?

(Note: Title changed after commenter Sarah reminded me that I am not, in fact, talking about persistent sleepiness in computers--though as Bill B notes below, that's a common problem with Windows laptops as well.)

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 24, 2007; 11:02 AM ET
Categories:  Tips  
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