How many times have you ever wanted to set a specific time (or date for that matter) so your computer would shut down? I don’t know about you guys but I certainly have. Chalk this one up under another simple feature that I wished would have been baked in with Windows itself. It’s another one of those simple yet much wanted features. Well, at least in my head it is. But as always, fear not. We’re always just a freeware away from getting what we want! If you’re an energy-saving freak like me, than you’ll already have understood why it is so important to be able to shut down our computers while we are not physically present to do so. Energy is expensive, especially where I live and so having my computer turn itself off after completion of a task is very crucial. There are no doubt many, many different free utilities out there that can help me accomplish this task. I’ve picked out two from the list. First up is Vista Shutdown Timer (VST). The second is Shutdown Timer. This program can do a lot more than VST. For example, you can configure various parameters to tell it when it is appropriate to initiate the desired action.
One of the main reason why I need a shutdown timer is usually when I download large files from the Internet and need to be away for some time. Now, I admit that this rarely happens but when the time calls, I can easily put these freeware’s into action.Before actually downloading and using VST or Shutdown Timer, do realize that some applications actually include their own built in auto-shutdown feature. An example would be the popular Bittorrent client, uTorrent. There is an option to auto-shutdown when your downloads have completed. Basically, if a task is time intensive, there is a good chance that the application will have an option to auto-shutdown the computer once it completes.
Vista Shutdown TimerYou can download Vista Shutdown Timer here.
What I mainly love about VST is that not only is it easy to use and configure, but it’s a self-executable. That means no installation necessary. Don’t like it or don’t have a need for it anymore? Simply throw away the executable and that’s it.
As soon as your start the program, you’ll be greeted with VST’s main interface. All of the icons are grayed out. You’re allowed to select one of the five different selections: Log Off, Hibernate, Standby, Restart, and Shutdown. Click on any one and the button color will appear.
Once you make your selection, the advance menu will drop down and here you’ll be able to easily configure the countdown timer. Simply specify the amount of minutes until the desired shutdown time. Hit the Run Timer button and that’s pretty much it. As the countdown comes near, you’ll see various timed warnings on your screen. You can turn these warning flashes off but I wouldn’t recommend doing so.
VST should be located in your system tray area. If you suddenly decided that you now want to have your computer Hibernate rather than your first selection of Shutdown, simply right click on the icon menu and select the correct option.
One other area of interest is the Shortcut wizard. Rather than having to reconfigure VST every time (not that difficult as you can see), you can simply create a VST Shortcut with the settings already defined. For example, I can create an icon that will Hibernate my laptop in 20 minutes. Therefore, the next time I need to Hibernate my computer after a short period of time, I can simply double click on the icon.
Not sure if it’s just me but I never could get the calendar scheduling to work. I would always get the error message stating that the date must be in the future. When specifying the command in a command prompt, I wouldn’t get an error but VST will still ignore the date I have specified.
Shutdown TimerIf you want a more advanced shutdown timer, look no further than Shutdown Timer by Sinvise Systems. You can download Shutdown Timer here. There is a regular version and a portable version of Shutdown Timer so if self-executables are your thing, then you already know what to do!
Right from the start, you’ll most likely have already noticed how much more pleasant looking Shutdown Timer is compared to VST. Also, you have a couple of more selections than compared to VST. For example, you can have a file/program or even a webpage to open at a specified time.
First up is Time & Date, the most basic selection. Here, we can either specify a specific time or a specific day and time. Luckily, the calendar feature works here!
With the Networking option, you can tell Shutdown Timer to initiate your selection based on the state of a network adapter. For example, you can say that before you shut down my computer, my local area connection (or wireless) should have a download speed of below 10Kbps. Therefore, if I was already downloading a file, configuring this parameter will shut down my computer once my download speed is below 10 Kbps, which should mean I have finished the download. This is a great option because by specifying only a time parameter, my download speeds could fluctuate which in turn would lead to a delay to the completion of my file download. If I don’t give enough of a padding, my computer could shut down prior to my download being finished. That would be a disaster.I’m pretty sure there’s a bug right now that prevents Shutdown Timer from detecting network speeds. It detects my network cards perfectly but not the speeds. Therefore, at the moment, I can’t use the Networking speed feature. From their comment board, it seems other people are also experiencing the issue and I have reported it as well. Luckily, version 2.5 works. So, if Shutdown Timer can’t detect your network speeds as well, try downgrading to version 2.5 temporarily.
Next, we got the CPU & Memory category. Here, we are allowed to play with three different settings (although only one can be enabled). They are CPU usage, CPU temperature and Memory usage. If you’re performing a CPU intensive task like converting a high definition video or something, you can say that in order to shut down my computer, my CPU must be below 40% for 5 minutes, which hopefully would indicate that the conversion has finished.
The last category is Processes. You can configure the initiation of the shutdown only if a specific process is or is not running.
If you click on the little cogwheel button in the lower left hand corner, you’ll be able to set some additional settings pertaining to Shutdown Timer’s behavior itself.
In the End…
If all you needed was a simple way to specify a manual computer shutdown time, either VST or Shutdown Timer will suit you. However, for more advance options (and a better looking interface), you’ll find Shutdown Timer very hard to beat. Me personally, I’m picking Shutdown Timer over VST simply because the calendar feature actually works. I’m sure I’m not going to be using it that much anyways but still, it irritates me that a function can be found within a program but yet doesn’t work.