Wake on LAN

Wake on LAN is a technology that allows a network professional to remotely power on a computer or to wake it up from sleep mode. By remotely triggering the computer to wake up and perform scheduled maintenance tasks, the technician does not have to physically visit each computer on the network.

Wake on LAN works by sending a wake-up frame or packet to a client machine from a server machine that has remote network management software installed. The Wake on LAN network adapter installed in the client receives the wake-up frame and turns on. The scheduled tasks then begin.

To use Wake on LAN technology you need a Wake on LAN network adapter, Wake on LAN enabled motherboard, and remote management software:

  • The Wake on LAN network adapter continually monitors the network looking for wake-up frames. The adapter must have a constant power source in order to boot up, which is usually from a special power supply that delivers a certain amount of power continually. The Wake on LAN adapter also decodes the wake-up frame to determine if it is a wake-up. The key to determining a wake-up frame is if the media access control (MAC address) address is repeated 16 times without breaks or interruptions.
  • The motherboard must contain a complementary metal-oxide semiconductor (CMOS) that is designed to use Wake on LAN technology.
  • The remote management software sends the wake-up frames. This software also enables a professional to disable Wake on LAN technology. The remote management software allows the scheduling of tasks that are needed and tells the computer to shut down or go into sleep mode when done.

Wake on LAN (local area network) is a part of a joint Intel-IBM Wired for Management technology. Wired for Management is designed to help network professionals save time and money on automated tasks such as software installation and upgrades, backups, and virus scans by scheduling these tasks during hours when network activity is at a minimum. Wake on LAN is for use with Ethernet and token ring networks.

This was last updated in September 2005

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