PC World - 20 Things You Didn't Know Your PC Could Do

Teach that old machine new tricks--from the amazingly practical to the practically amazing.

Eric Dahl

Each morning when I get into the office, I hang up my coat, drop my bag in a corner, and start the process of turning on my PC. Five minutes later, I'm ready to work after waiting for the machine to boot, typing in my network password, waiting for plug-ins to load, and finally opening all the applications I use each day. Who needs all that waiting?

Try this little experiment if you'd like to save some time: Go to the Start menu and click Shut Down. Choose the Stand By or Suspend option (depending on your version of Windows, it may be in a drop-down list), and click OK if necessary. If the room just got quieter, congratulations--you have a new way to turn off your computer. If you didn't find that option, or if your PC's fans kept whirring, read on. You aren't out of luck yet.

If the option did work, your PC should quickly return to the state you left it in--with applications open, MP3s playing and everything--when you press the power button again. This feature, called Suspend to RAM, saves almost as much power as turning off your computer, by shutting down nearly every PC component and storing the machine's state in system memory.

Not all systems support Suspend to RAM, and some that do support it don't come with the option enabled. To begin with, you need to be running Windows 98 SE, Me, 2000, or XP. If you are and things still don't work as expected, check your machine's hardware support by rebooting and then entering your PC's setup utility. (Watch the screen as the PC boots; it should tell you which key to press.) The labels mentioned below will vary, but they should be typical.

Look for a power-savings or power-management category. Search there for settings related to suspend modes. Enable any setting labeled 'Suspend Mode' or 'ACPI Function'. If you can choose different types of suspend mode (my home PC has a setting called 'ACPI Suspend Type'), select Suspend to RAM by choosing S3 or STR. Save your changes, exit the setup utility, and boot into Windows.

If you're running a pre-XP OS, double-click Power Options in the Control Panel and click the Advanced tab. If possible, select the Stand By option. That should enable Suspend to RAM. For more on speeding up PC start times, see Home Office.

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