Troubleshoot PC Power Management Issues - dummies

By Dan Gookin

The same innovations that increase your PC’s energy efficiency can be a source of troubleshooting issues. When hardware engineers set out to enhance the way computers manage power, various solutions culminated in the set of software protocols and hardware innovation called the Advanced Configuration and Power Interface (ACPI). Although the ACPI serves many computers well, there are a few common issues that you will need to identify and fix.

Activate power management in Windows XP

Windows XP often fails to detect ACPI hardware in a computer, so the feature is never installed. Or, worse, the ACPI is improperly detected and you end up with a computer that falls into a coma rather than falling asleep. To ensure that Windows XP is taking advantage of your computer’s power management prowess, follow these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel’s Power Options icon.

  2. In the Power Options Properties dialog box, click the APM tab.

    If you don’t see the APM tab, your computer is fine and ready to go: Skip to Step 4.

  3. Click the option Enable Advanced Power Management Support.

  4. Click OK to dismiss the Power Options Properties dialog box, and then close the Control Panel window.

The computer should now properly manage power options, like Sleep mode.

If you continue to have problems with Windows XP and power management, visit the computer manufacturer’s website to check for new power management driver software. You can also use the Windows Update service to confirm that your computer is using the most current drivers.

Enable power management for specific devices

Occasionally, you find a Power Management tab in various Properties dialog boxes for devices capable of power management. You can use that tab to enable or disable the power management features of specific devices.


To find those devices, you use the Device Manager. Heed these steps:

  1. Open the Control Panel.

  2. Open the Device Manager:

    • In Windows 7 and Window Vista, choose Hardware and Sound and then click the Device Manager link found under the Devices and Printers heading.

      You may be prompted in Windows Vista to click the Continue button or type the administrator’s password to continue.

    • In Windows XP, open the System icon, click the Hardware tab, and then click the Device Manager button.

  3. Open a category to view the devices available in that category.

  4. Open a device to view its Properties dialog box.

  5. Click the Power Management tab in the Properties dialog box to control power management for that device.

    Only the gizmos that have power management features sport the Power Management tab in their Properties dialog boxes. When the tab is there, you see an option to enable the power management features, plus maybe other options specific to the device.

  6. Close the various dialog boxes and windows when you’re done.

In general, the devices that have the Power Management tab in their Properties dialog boxes include keyboards, mouse or pointing devices, network adapters, and some system devices. Others may have it as well.

You can configure your PC’s mouse or keyboard to not wake the computer from Sleep mode. That’s done on the Power Management tab of the device’s Properties dialog box; simply remove the check mark next to Allow This Device to Wake the Computer. In Windows XP, the command is Allow This Device to Bring the Computer Out of Standby.