back to article Council employs automatic PC shutdown

A council is expecting to save money and reduce carbon emissions after installing software that closes down PCs left on overnight. Peterborough City Council has deployed software to automatically turn off computers left on during evenings and weekends. The council predicts it will save £50,000 a year and cut annual CO2 …


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  1. Will

    Is this not the same as..

    Perhaps the council should have spoken to Staffordshire county countil and asked them for some of their own home brew software?

  2. Martin Owens

    Not hard

    I wonder how much investment this software was, I mean ok so it's going to be a little more complex that crod.d shutdown -h 18:00/now but still I can't shake the feeling that this would have been a million times cheaper and easier to do if the network was *nix based.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money for nothing

    And what, precisely, does this piece of software do that couldn't be done by configuring power saving?

    OK, so power saving can't be configured differently for day/night/weekend but is that important? A machine that hasn't been used for 2 hours can probably be shutdown even during the working day without causing major inconvenience. And if its set to hibernate its no major hardship to wait a few seconds while it comes back on.

    Can I guess ... configuring power save to work the way its intended to work wouldn't earn some overpaid official a promotion, but spending *money* to do the same job probably might ???

  4. Quinn Fidler


    "it saves a copy onto the c-drive."

    Surely this isnt the secure way of doing this? Why dont they just set the machines to hibernate over night rather than shut down? They would also come back online faster thereby using fewer CPU cycles and less hard disk activity when booting (and therefore less power...) every morning.

    These must be relatively new PCs so they ought all to have hibernation support on the BIOS. I can understand the desire to reboot them occasionally to get rid of the gremlins and that not all hibernations recover properly but I should imagine people would get used to saving their work before they leave overnight pretty sharpish after a few repeats of them leaving their PC on overnight (which they are obviously not SUPPOSED to do) and not saving their work (why are they using computers if they aren't trained to save regularly??).

    All that said, good on them for making an attempt at hitting this whole leave-PCs-on-all-the-time culture.

  5. egg

    How much?

    Interesting to note that Peterborough City Council has 2500 PCs and will save £50K while ...

    Council worker develops PC energy-saving program

    Staffordshire County Council has 7500 PCs and will save only £40K

    Peterborough City Council deployed NightWatchman from 1E while Staffordshire County Council solution was develoed in house.

    Is the difference in savings just due to the number of employees who leave their PC switched on, the price of electricity, or what?

  6. eddiewrenn

    I swear you've already run this story

    I may stand corrected, din't you run this last monthand then everyone criticised the council for blowing their trumped over what basically amounts to a three-line script? Kudos that they started using the script - ("Hey, like every business and institute in the last six months, we LOVE the environment!" Always have!") - but it's hardly brain-science.

  7. Danny

    And this is news why?

    We have been doing this for years, as well as waking up them up again for 8am the next morning ready for when people come into work.

  8. Roy Stilling

    Wouldn't an inclusion list be better?

    I can just forsee some new machine that does some business critical overnight processing being clobbered because someone forgets to add it to the exclusion list.

  9. Simon C

    Obviously never heard of the PS Tools suite from Microsoft

    One of which is called PSShutdown.

    A quick batch file run at a particular time and voila all marked machines are shut down.

    and cost only the time to implement.

    Poor buggers at the council missed out on one hell of a Christmas bonus.

  10. Ross Fleming

    Power save features?

    And just enabling the power save features of Windows to hibernate after an hour of inactivity wouldn't have been cheaper and achieved the same goal??

  11. Matt Zywina

    This was hardly earth shattering when you reported it about Staffs County Council two weeks ago. Some of the quotes look decidedly similar, too..

  12. Robert Brown

    What about the cost of time lost in the morning?

    I usually think that shutting your work PC down every day means that so much time is lost each morning waiting for Windows to load and then loading all the programs you were using again. Sure, there's hibernate but how many people in the council will know about that?

    I wonder if these costs have been factored into the savings?

  13. Graham Jordan

    50k a year

    So will the saved 50k a year go back into folks wallets? Or can we expect more speed humps.

  14. Rob Beard

    But how much does the software cost?

    But how much does the software cost per PC?

    The company I work for managed to implement such a thing using Active Directory. Don't see why they need software to do that. Does it do something special like automatically save any open files?

    They could have maybe even used this software: (which is freeware!)

    Still, good on them for thinking about the environment.


  15. andy gibson

    How much did they pay

    for software that you could do with a scheduled task batch file containing nothing more than SHUTDOWN /i ?

  16. Kevin Peacock

    Deja Vu

    Were Peterborough and Staffordshire councils working together?

  17. Adam West

    Waste of cash

    The council bought software that will shut down PCs, hoping it will save money.

    But you know what would have saved even more money? Actually shopping around first and realising that not only are there free pieces of software that will do this for you.

  18. Jason Hall

    Wasting my money for years

    So what this means is that, basically, the council has been wasting *MY* money for years now?

    I would have thought that anyone with half a brain cell would close-down their machines overnight anyway? If not - why not?

    If they had forgotten, obviously the properly set up power saving options on the bios of the said machines would have done it for them? Yet again - if not why not?

    You mean the council's IT department is shit? Blimey.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Slow news day?

    Newsflash: Peterborough council want to get some publicity for doing something they should have done a long time ago, and which other councils have also done already (and without using an expensive outside company to do it)

    As many people commented on this previous article, this wasn't news then and it isn't news now.

    IMHO: "Kablenet is a dull worthless newsletter containing pointless stories about how public sector technology is ten years behind everyone else" </paraphrase>

    Nice to know El Reg is keeping us up to date with _current_ affairs!

    (bad pun I know, coat has been ordered)

  20. Andrew Barratt

    Watch for the configuration gaff

    So lets all watch for the inevitable group policy / configuration gaff that sees all the servers getting shutdown in the middle of the night!

    Lets also look at the productivity loss...

    some pile of crap old machine taking 5-10 mins to boot and get past the login prompt..

    average salary of 25k (lets say) = 10 minute cost to boot off £2.50

    Meaning total cost in lost productivity £912.50 per year per employee.

    So 500 staff = best part of half a mill in loss productivity.

    So once again another council figures out how to blow money without thinking about it.

    Imagine the total carbon emissions from all those people who then go and stick on the councils crappy kettle to make a brew whilst they are waiting for the heap of junk pc to boot up.

    dear oh dear oh dear.....

    Just another angle.


  21. Pete James

    Brilliant salespeople

    I take my hat off to this lot. It's a pretty simple idea and it's been well thought out to cover the details, so good luck to them.

    Of course, you could just make sure staff turn their machines off before going home, but seeing as the customer was a Local Authority - and we all know the plankton-like intelligence that exists in such bodies - then we'll forget that minor detail.

  22. Joe K


    This is a copy of a previous story.

    Expecting the same comments:

    1./ "Why spend money on a program when you can set your GPO's to shut down the comps when idle in the power options."

    2./ "If they went off the IP list for exclusions then you'd have random shutdowns as DCHP assigns addresses elsewhere"

    3./ "We used to wonder why the site went offline for a while after 5pm, our cleaner used to unplug our server everynight for her hoover"

  23. Gilbert Wham

    Being as this is the council we're talking about...

    ...My bet is, that it will automatically shut ALL the machines off at noon, and power them up again at midnight. Except for weekends, when they will be on 48 hours straight. Except for the payroll dept., obviously...

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Given this is Peterborough council we're talking about...

    ... my bet is it will automatically shut all of the machines off whenever a person, especially a child, is in danger and in need of protection from social services as well as whenever a document putting the council in a bad light is halfway through being saved, resulting in unrecoverable corruption, both of data and of politicians.

    Yes I did escape from there several years ago, why do you ask?

  25. Neil

    What's the betting...

    That now the anti-virus will never scan, and possibly never update? Ditto Windows Updates.

  26. egg

    How much ??

    Saving 50K/year - recouped investment well within 3 months

    I'd guess it cost around 10K or so.

    Can the software switch the office lights off as well?

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How to Auto-Shutdown XP (for free)

    Click Start | All Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Scheduled Tasks | Add Scheduled Task

    Click Next | Browse, type in:


    and press [Enter].

    Select "Daily", (or whatever), and click Next.

    Pick a start time (say 9:00 PM) and click Next.

    Type in the password (twice) for the username displayed and click Next.

    Select "Open advanced properties for this task when I click finish" and click Next.

    In the Run: box, add the following parameters to the end of the line:

    -s -t 0 -f

    (Note: Be sure to leave a space between the "shutdown.exe" and the "-s").

    Click Apply and a pop-up will appear prompting you for the password again. Type it in (twice) and press [Enter].

    Click OK.

    You should now see your new "shutdown" listed in your "Scheduled Tasks" window. (Note that you can right-click and rename it ... maybe something like "Forced Shutdown at 9PM").

    To remove it, simply right-click it (in Scheduled Tasks) and select Delete.

    Important Note: The Windows username you are setting this up for must use a Windows logon password ... even if it's something extremely simple, like a "1".

  28. egg

    Time to go home - just leave it on

    Won't the software encourage the 70% of people who do turn their PC off not to bother, as they know it will be switched off for them.

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