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What is Wake-On-LAN and How To Enable it?

Wake-On-LAN is a feature where you can switch your pc without physically being present near the system. This means you don’t need to manually switch the computer on it can be done remotely. This technology has been around us for two decades. Unfortunately, most of us doesn’t know about it. Thus it would be worthwhile to discuss this amazing feature in detail and shed more light on how Wake-on-LAN works.

What is Wake-On-LAN ?

Wake-on-LAN (WoL) is an Ethernet or token ring computer networking standard that turns on a system or awaken it by a network message. Thus the user does not need to be physically present. It enables you to access your files or folders remotely, even if the computer will be low-power state to save electricity.

Requirements for Wake-On-LAN:

Wake-On-LAN needs two things to work: your motherboard and your network card.
  • The motherboard should be connected to an ATX-compatible power supply
  • A peer to peer network between two or more computers.
  • The Ethernet card must support the functionality.
  • The computer must be in either Sleep or Hibernation mode for this to work.

The Magic Packet: Working Mechanism for Wake-On-LAN

With the help of a specially designed frame called magic packet, Wake-on-LAN or WOL works. Magic Packet is a byte array with 6 bytes of the value of all 255 (FF FF FF FF FF FF in hexadecimal), followed by sixteen repetitions of the target computer’s 48-bit MAC address, for a total of 102 bytes. In simple words, it is a standard wake-up frame that aims a specific network interface. There are some basic limitations of a magic packet:
  • It requires the target computer’s MAC address
  • It does not provide us with a delivery confirmation
  • The target computer must have the hardware support of Wake-On-LAN.

Enable The Wake-On-LAN On Your System

In order to enable Wake-On-LAN on your system, you need to alter the settings under your BIOS and on your computer.

BIOS Settings:

  • To reach bios settings, you need to press a key as you boot the computer. The key would be shown on the screen when it comes up. Usually, it is F2, Escape or Delete.

  • Once you are under BIOS settings, check under Power Management or Advanced Options.
  • You need to enable settings related to Power Up on PCI card, LAN, or Network. 

  • Click Save to keep the changes and exit the BIOS settings.

Windows OS Settings:

  • Go to Start Menu and type Device Manager. 

  • In Device Manager panel, expand Network Adapter.
  • Right click on the network card and go to Properties, then click on the Advanced tab.

  • On the Advanced tab, under the property, scroll down. In “Wake on Magic Packet”, change the value to “Enabled.” 

  • Switch to Power Management and check mark the boxes beside “Allow this device to wake the computer” and “Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer” 

  • Click OK.

In Mac OS

  • Locate Apple icon from the top left side corner and click on it.
  • Now choose System Preferences -> Energy Saver Preferences.

  • In Energy Saver Preferences pane, you will get an option similar to, “Wake for Network Access”

In Linux

  • Open terminal and install ethtool with the following command: sudo apt-get install ethtool
  • To check compatibility, run this command: sudo ethtool eth0
  • If the default interface is something else, substitute it for eth0.
  • Now find the “Supports Wake-on” section. If the letter beside is g, you can use magic packets for Wake-on-LAN. To enable this option, you have to execute the below mentioned command: sudo ethtool -s eth0 wol g
  • Check the “Wake on” section to enable the feature. The letter would be g instead of d.

In this way, you can enable the Wake-On-LAN on your computer and wake it from the sleep remotely whenever needed.

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