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Published on 12.11.07 by Brent Trahan

Configuring Windows Vista’s Advanced Power Settings

Learn how to configure Windows Vista’s advanced power settings from when to turn off the display to controlling the processors speed and everything in between.

This guide shows you how to fine tune the power settings in Windows Vista.

Configure Advanced Power Settings

  1. Right-click an empty space on your desktop and then select Personalize.
  2. Click Screen Saver.
  3. Click Change power settings under Power Management in the Screen Saver Settings window.
  4. Click Change plan settings for the power plan you want to configure.
  5. Click Change advanced power settings in the Edit Plan Settings window.
  6. Before you can edit advanced power plan settings you need to click Change settings that are unavailable to unlock them.


You’re now free to change the advanced power plan settings. You can always reset the power plan to its default settings by clicking Restore plan defaults in the Power Options window (shown above) of the power plan.

Advanced Power Settings Explained

This section goes through each advanced power setting and explains it in more detail for you.

Note: Some settings talked about below may not show up on your computer. It all depends on if you’re using a laptop, PC, and what hardware’s installed on your computer. I think I have all of the settings covered below, but there might have a few out there that I’ve never seen.

Additional Settings

  • Require a password on wakeup: If your computer is set to go to sleep it’ll ask you for the password of the user who is logged in when you wake it up.

Hard Disk

  • Turn off hard disk after: The amount of time of no disk activity before the hard drive is powered down.

Wireless Adapter Settings

  • Power Saving Mode: Wireless adapters can drain a laptop’s battery. This setting sets which mode to run your wireless adapter in. You can select a high power saving mode which will dramatically slow down your wireless network connection but increase your battery life, to a maximum performance setting that gives you the fastest network connection possible but drains your battery faster.


  • Sleep after: Your computer freezes in time, saves itself in memory, and then shuts down most of the computer’s components after a set time of inactivity. When you wake it up the computer quickly powers up and you can resume work.
  • Hibernate after: Your computer freezes in time, saves itself on the hard drive, and then shuts down completely after a set time of inactivity. When you turn the computer back on you’ll resume what you were doing.
  • Allow Hybrid Sleep: If you turn this feature on your computer will freeze in time, save itself in memory, save itself on the hard drive, and then go to sleep. If your computer looses power it will boot back up using the image saved on the hard drive. This is great for laptops.

USB Settings

  • USB selective suspend setting: If this feature is enabled your computer can selectively turn off USB ports that don’t need to be on. A USB finger print reader or mouse would stay on because they’re always needs to be ready for use. A USB camera or card reader might be turned off because they’re not being used and not needed.

Power Buttons and Lid

  • Lid closure action: What do you want to happen when you close the lid of your laptop?
  • Power button action: When you press the power button on your PC or laptop, what do you want to happen?
  • Sleep button action: When you press the sleep button on your PC or laptop, what do you want to happen?
  • Start menu power button: What do you want to happen when you click the power button on the Start menu?

PCI Express

  • Link state power management: PCI Express needs a continuous stream of data from the PCI Express device to the computer to keep them in sync. If the link state power management setting is set to conserve power the PCI Express device will basically power down and stop the continuous stream of data but it will need to power back up and sync before you can use it again.

Processor Power Management

The faster a processor runs the more electricity it needs. The processor state is the amount of electricity it’s receiving.

  • Minimum processor state: The slowest a processor is allowed to go in percentage. I wouldn’t go lower than 5%.
  • Maximum processor state: The fastest a processor is allowed to go in percentage. This can be throttled back when you’re using a laptop’s battery to save power. I wouldn’t go slower than 50% though.

Search and Indexing

In order for the Start Menu’s search box to work, Windows Vista’s search engine needs to periodically scan and index the files on your computer.

  • Power Savings Mode: You can set from three modes that go from pretty much no indexing at its lowest to full indexing at its highest. This can be turned to maximum power saving while running on a battery to save power.


  • Turn off display after: How much time of inactivity before your monitor is turned off?
  • Adaptive display: If your monitor turns off and you wake turn it back on soon after a few times, your computer will learn from this and extend the time of inactivity before it turns off.
  • Display brightness: The percentage from 0-100 of the display brightness. When you’re running on batteries this can be set to around 40% to save battery life.

Multimedia Settings

Windows Media Player has the capabilities to share music with anyone within your computer’s local area network.

  • When sharing media: Set if you want your computer to continue sharing media instead of going to sleep or to stop sharing media and allow sleep.


  • Critical battery action: What do you want the computer to do when the battery reaches a critically low level of available power?
  • Low battery level: What is considered a low battery level in percentage of available battery power? 10% is about right.
  • Critical battery level: What is considered a critical battery level in percentage of available battery power? 5% is about right.
  • Low battery notification: Do you want the computer to notify you that your battery is getting low?
  • Low battery action: What do you want your computer to do when the battery gets low?

Graphics Power Settings

  • PowerPlay Settings: Chose from three levels of graphics card performance. This can save a lot of battery power if set to maximum battery life. If you set it for maximum battery life the graphic capabilities will go down significantly.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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2 Responses to “Configuring Windows Vista’s Advanced Power Settings”

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  1. pETER sTEVENS says:

    Love this opage and found it really useful. Thanks.

  2. norman says:

    The power saver options are really stupid in vista. On low battery I want a popup box or a sound to play (with a repeat option.) “Do Nothing” “Sleep” “Hibernate” or “Shut Down” ??? What about, “Tell me the power isn’t connected and let me plug this thing in!”

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