The Magic of Wake-on-LAN
Activating the PC remotely does not depend on magic. This is thanks to the WakeonLAN network standard that is compatible with most Ethernet connections.
When enabled, Wake-on-LAN allows one computer—or even your smartphone—to send a magic packet, the equivalent of an “ON signal”, to another PC on the same local network.
1. Set Up the Remote PC
Although most modern Ethernet network adapters support WakeonLAN, many adapters do not enable this feature by default. In order for the PC to take immediate action when it receives a magic packet, you may need to enable this feature in two seemingly unrelated places:
- In your PC’s BIOS/UEFI menu.
- In your network adapter’s settings within Windows 10.
Unfortunately, we are unable to provide specific instructions for enabling WakeonLAN in the BIOS/UEFI menu of your PC. The location of the options depends on the motherboard manufacturer. Therefore, you must consult the motherboard manual for more information. However, you will usually find it in options related to network or power.
After ensuring that WakeonLAN is enabled in the BIOS/UEFI of the target PC, start the Windows installation as usual. Open the device manager. If you’re using Windows 10, you can press the Windows key + X and run it from the operating system’s administrative tool shortcut menu. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key or click the “Start” menu and start typing “Device Manager” to find it.
- Expand the Network adapters category and double-click on your network adapter (or right-click on it and choose Properties). Move to the Advanced tab and check the entries under Property. Locate the entry for Wake on Magic Packet and enable it.
- While still viewing your network adapter’s properties, move to the Power Management tab. There, ensure that both Allow this device to wake the computer and Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer are enabled.
- Finally, to wake it up remotely, you’ll need this PC’s IP address. If you don’t know it, you can find it by pressing Windows key + R, typing “cmd”, then pressing Enter to run Command Prompt. Type “ipconfig” (without the quotation marks) in Command Prompt and press Enter to run the command. The address you need will be reported as IPv4 Address.
You can now turn off this PC and return to your primary one.
2. Grab WakeMeOnLan
As we will see, it is easy and feasible to create a shutdown shortcut for our remote PC on our desktop using the default Windows tools. However, to turn on the remote PC, you need a way to send the magic packet mentioned above to it. Many remote control solutions can wake up your PC in this way.
However, for this article, we do not want to control our PC completely remotely. We just want to access your storage as quickly and easily as possible. Therefore, it is easier to use NirSoft’s free WakeMeOnLan tool.
- Download WakeMeOnLan from its official site.
- The tool can be used as a portable application without installation. However, it is included in the ZIP file. To use it, create a folder where you want to “install” it to run in the future. Then extract the contents of the downloaded file there. Remember (or copy to clipboard) the folder path.
With everything set up, you can now create the actual shortcuts that will turn on and off your remote PC.
3. Create the On/Off Shortcuts
WakeMeOnLan provides a proper GUI, but also supports command line flags. We will use this feature to use WakeMeOnLan as the secret weapon behind the shortcut to open a remote PC.
- Right-click on a blank spot on your desktop and choose New > Shortcut from the menu that pops up.
- Enter the full path to WakeMeOnLAN’s executable file (that we suggested you note down or copy to the clipboard earlier) in the field under Type the location of the item. Alternatively, you can click on the Browse button on the right, then find and choose WakeMeOnLAN’s executable from the requester that appears. Leave a blank space after the executable, and type “/wakeup YOUR_REMOTE_PC’s_IP” (without the quotation marks). Replace “YOUR_REMOTE_PC’s_IP” with the IP address you noted when you ran ipconfig on your remote PC.
- Enter an appropriate name for your new shortcut. We used a straightforward “BlackBox_ON”, where “BlackBox” was the name of our remote PC. Click on Finish and your first icon will be ready to use.
- Create a second icon as before. For this one, you can use the Windows’ native “shutdown” command instead of a third-party tool. So, instead of entering a path to an executable, type “shutdown /s /m \\REMOTE_PC’s_NAME” (without the quotation marks). In our case, our remote PC was called “BlackBox”, so our command was “shutdown /s /m \\blackbox”.
- Enter an appropriate name for this shortcut as well—we used a wholly unoriginal “BlackBox_OFF”. Finally, click on Finish to create your Remote-OFF shortcut.
Your shortcuts are now ready to use.
Get In, Transfer, Get Out!
Although created using standard techniques that are fully understandable, using these two shortcuts feels like magic.
With them, you don’t have to resort to complicated solutions or get up and manually press the power button on another computer to turn it on. Instead, you can double-click the “Power On” shortcut on the desktop and immediately hear the sound of the remote PC starting.
Next, launch your favorite file manager, access the shared folder on the remote PC, and copy and move files there.
Finally, double click on the “Shutdown” shortcut and you’re done. It is no more difficult than using typical appliances. There is another excuse to leave our chair!