Windows 10 Power Options

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Windows 10 Power Options: a reader asks…

I have a new Dell Windows 10 PC (an Inspiron laptop with SSD hard drive) and have followed your instructions for setting it up. I’m using a Microsoft account (set as Standard user), have another Admin user account, and went through the Windows 10 setup, turning off everything I could in the Microsoft initial configuration crap. Now I’m at the point where Windows 10 is running normally, I’ve applied all the updates and have MS Office 2016, Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, Malwarebytes Premium (and Windows Defender), and Google Chrome. I use Gmail btw. What’s left to do is adjust my power options. I rarely use the computer on battery, it’s almost always plugged into electric power. Can you give me a rundown on the right power options for me please?

It sounds like you’ve done everything right to set up your new PC, and are ready to start using it! I’m assuming you have Windows Update turned on for automatic updates, and you’ve setup your Start Menu tiles for the programs you’ll use most. The power options I lay out below are intended to keep your computer safe (from overheating), and give you the maximum performance. One slight caveat, if you experience sustained high CPU, Memory, or Disk usage (pegging at or near 100% all the time), then make the adjustment I suggest at the end. Otherwise you should be good to go. Here’s a quick missive on that issue:

meltdown-spectre-logos
logos courtesy of WindowsCentral.com

The recent CPU vulnerabilities that have emerged (Spectre & Meltdown) are serious problems, and we’ve seen poor mitigation help from the chip-makers (most likely Intel in your case), your operating system (OS) developer (Microsoft), and your computer manufacturer (Dell). In fact, updates to your OS and BIOS or other firmware updates from Dell may have made the problem worse. The problem I’m referring to is that the attempts to mitigate these vulnerabilities can put a huge hit on your system’s performance and reliability. There are tons of reports on the internet from folks whose computers are slowing down to a crawl. Running Task Manager and looking at performance, they’ll see sustained 100% utilization of CPU, Memory or Disk. Take a look at my EWS for PC article and put small monitors for those critical measures on your desktop.

Onto the power options. I’m going to go over the process of setting the power plan first, then adjusting all the advanced power options that you need to change (and why). Let’s start with getting to the power plan first: Click Start > the gear icon > the System icon on the resulting window that opens. Click the Power and Sleep menu item. On the right side of that, set:

  1. win10-power-and-sleep-screenshotScreen: Set the “On battery power…” dropdown for 10 minutes or less. That shuts off power to the battery-killing screen if you haven’t touched the keyboard or touchpad for xx minutes. Waking it back up just means moving the mouse or hitting any key and almost instantly you’re back in business. For the “When plugged in…” dropdown, you can set that for whatever you want. I usually set it for 45 minutes or less.
  2. Sleep: Set the “On battery power…” dropdown for Never, and also for “When plugged in…”. Even in Windows 10, I find that sleep mode is pretty useless, and can cause other problems. That’s because all the 3rd party software (and inexplicably some Microsoft software) that has background processes can throw errors if the computer’s sleeping. See below for using hibernation instead of sleep mode on battery power.

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Once that’s done, you can click the link below those sections under Related settings for “Additional power settings”. That opens a new window, which is the old Windows 7-style Control Panel opened to the Power Options section. Here is where you can Choose or customize a power plan. I suggest you choose the High Performance plan, as all the optional settings below are going to be based on that plan. You may have to click the Show additional plans down-caret to expand the list of power plans so you can see and choose the High performance plan. Once you have that selected, click the “Change plan settings link on the right side, and then on the resulting screen click the link “Change advanced power settings” – this opens a new smaller window that has all the advanced settings you want to adjust. Here’s my recommendations on what to set on this window:

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