Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Win 8 laptop as media server - how to ensure always on?

  1. #1


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1, Windows 8

    Win 8 laptop as media server - how to ensure always on?


    Hello,

    I'm running a home theater server on a Windows 8 (not yet 8.1) laptop. General specs are Intel Core i7 quad core processor, 8gb RAM, 1tb HDD. I have it connected by wired ethernet to my router to lower chances of screwing up. The primary programs running are Plex Media Server, PlayOn & PlayLater, and I hope to add a calibre server at some point.

    For the most part, things are quite stable with shut downs and restarts at a minimum. I recently replaced the battery so that short power outages would affect it (the cable modem & router are auto on when they receive power).

    My concern is this. It looks like I may have to travel in the nearish future for a few weeks at a time and I'd very much like to ensure that I can use my server while I'm away. I plan to have remote desktop software for troubleshooting issues that could arise & require restarting a server, etc but I can't get around what to do if a power outage lasted longer than the battery and the laptop turned off completely. I know Windows has some built-in power management for turning on a computer at a specific time and I wondered it this could be used to make sure that at a certain time each day or night the computer was turned on. It would have to work like a true power on function (rather than toggle) as some remote controls can now do where if you press power on while the TV is off, it comes on, if you do the same while it's on, the TV stays on. Is it possible set something like this up, if not with Windows 8 then another program. If that's not possible, could something be setup to cause the laptop to go into sleep or hibernation mode when it lost power. That way it world stay in a more responsive state than hard power off. Could it either be setup to resume regular "on" function once it receives power coming to it again or could I setup an app or other software to run from either another Windows laptop or an Android device to send a wake on Lan command to bring it out of hibernation? Is this something remote desktop access software can do? I've never tried to rely on the machine for that long being away and I'm trying to setup for sorting out as many issues as possible from afar. II know I can't be the only person who has tried this and I'd appreciate any help or advice so much. Thanks!

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    You really need to be using a Desktop instead of a Laptop as a server. One reason is that Laptops tend to get too hot if they are running high CPU intense tasks. The only way you can guarantee it shutting down before the battery running out, is to use a UPS. If you can set it to turn back on after loss of power that is a plus. As for remote management, use Teamviewer.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1, Windows 8


    Quote Originally Posted by broe23 View Post
    You really need to be using a Desktop instead of a Laptop as a server. One reason is that Laptops tend to get too hot if they are running high CPU intense tasks. The only way you can guarantee it shutting down before the battery running out, is to use a UPS. If you can set it to turn back on after loss of power that is a plus. As for remote management, use Teamviewer.
    Thanks so much for your reply. I really appreciate it. I don't full understand your statement about ensuring that it shuts down before it loses power using a UPS. How would that ensure it would shut down before losing power? I have taken adequate precautions on the potential heat issue by using additional fans in a ventilated stand. It works well and heat has not proven to be an issue since then - though I was fortunate that it never was a huge problem. I tried running an older desktop but it just couldn't handle things and although I realize a desktop would be ideal, I don't have the funds to purchase one capable of running my server applications. So I've made the best of it. Just trying to troubleshoot ahead of time for issues that could arise and the hard power off seemed the most impossible one to overcome. Thanks again.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    Because you have a laptop, it will shut down after the battery gets down to 7%. Which also means that Windows will start throttling the CPU the minute it goes on battery, to conserve time. A Battery will only give you at most, maybe an hour with that CPU. A UPS can give you up to 4 hours or longer, depending on the type you are using.

    The more powerful the CPU, the less time you have available on the battery for the Laptop, same as the UPS. With pretty much every SoHo UPS, you can use management software, that once the levels get critical on the UPS, it will start shutting down your Laptop. Once power gets restored, your laptop senses power, it can reboot without a login back into the OS, if you have it set that way. Otherwise, you would have to always enter username & password.

    The biggest issue if you plan on watching videos on your laptop at home. You will run into low Upload on your Internet, unless you are getting more than 10 mb/s for upload. But Download when traveling, a Public Hotspot can be set to only allow 3 mb/s, to keep any one user from hogging all of the bandwidth of the Public Hotspot.

    If it was me, I get an off lease machine for a file server and backup, so that you do not end up losing everything on the laptop, if the hard drive crashes. The plus side with using a desktop over a laptop, is that you can use a better GPU card on it, which would allow you to be able to watch 4K/UHD videos off of it when at home.

    For Remote, use Teamviewer for that as I stated before. It is a Secure remote access program. Also you can do Video Conferencing and also White board type conferencing if you are trying to walk someone through a problem on the home unit or connection.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 5
    Windows 8.1, Windows 8


    Thanks a bunch for explaining that more in depth. That helped a lot.

    I'm actually OK on the internet speeds as we have 50/12mbps so it's not yet been an issue. Because we use Plex with apps on Roku/Fire TV/Chromecast/Android and most other platforms, I don't even use the machine for playing the files directly to our screen. I'll definitely keep your idea of an off lease computer in mind, if funds permit in the future. That sounds like a great setup. I'll definitely look into the UPS options out there.

    Along that line, I keep reading in my searches that there are third party software programs that give more control on setting up events with triggers. I've found quite a bit about the Windows built-in features but no names of third-party options that might be more flexible. If you have any knowledge of programs that would allow me to create these, that would be awesome. I can think of several events that would be helpful to ensuring that the necessary software is running, the machine goes to sleep when power is lost, wakes when it returns, checks to be sure all programs are still running after an event, etc. I just must be using all the wrong search keywords because I'm not turning up a single piece of software.

    Thanks for sharing about TeamViewer. I had seen it in passing and didn't know all that it could do. I checked out their site and it looks like an excellent option. I'll be trying it out.

    Thanks again.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    I try and stay away from any third party utilities that deal with power and CPU.

    Our house is 100% Netflix & a little of Amazon. I have not fired up our Blu-Ray in quite a long time to watch DVD's, since most stuff I have on DVD, I can buy on Prime.

    As for your speeds, you should be fine on like network connection, If you stay in hotels, your Up & Down will be throttled.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    WOL is what you are looking for. Laptops tend to stay off, once they are off. Desktop's you have a choice to set to boot up after power restored.

    Then just have it set to login automatically when it comes online, so that the server software will start.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  8. #8


    Central IL
    Posts : 3,468
    Linux Mint 17.2


    I slept on this, and figured the best way you could do WOL, is with a Raspberry Pi. See the following. Raspberry Pi Remote Wake-On-LAN Server | JeremyBlum.com See this for other info. How to Make Any Computer Boot Up or Shut Down on a Schedule If the machine can go into Hibernate on Power failure or battery running out of power, that would be the easy way to bring it back up out of a shutdown state.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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