What would cause Wake On LAN to stop functioning all of a sudden?

Posted on 2016-10-05
Last Modified: 2016-10-06
In our environment we have roughly 50/50 laptops/desktops.  The laptops are on SSDs and the desktops your typical spinning disk 5400RPM.  We all know booting off a spinning disk takes a considerable amount of time compared to an SSD.  When I came on board there was a solution already implemented with a software called Aquila Technologies Wake On LAN.  Essentially, you add machines by MAC address and they show up in a list/group of icons and you can "schedule" them to wake up and shutdown at certain times.  Our desktops we had booting at 6:30, a full 1.5 hours before they need to clock in.  One site has stopped working entirely, while our larger main site has had approximately 35% of the users suddenly just stop booting up in the morning.  Now, as a systems administrator I know that waiting for a PC to boot is really more of a whine than a genuine complaint as this is a courtesy we've provided them.  

I've checked the BIOS/setup settings and Wake On LAN is enabled.  These are Lenovo ThinkCentre M83 desktops we're working with(and using the All in One/monitor devices with them).  I've tried a firmware update/network adapter driver update.  I've checked Windows power settings(even though this shouldn't affect the machine while it's powered off) and it's set to not be able to turn off the network adapter to save power.  I just tried WakeMeOnLan by Nirsoft and it can't power on the machine i'm testing with either.  

Note:  At one point during my troubleshooting I had a user shutdown.  I was able to power it back on and shut it down at that point.  It seems then, and a google search said the same thing at some point, that the problem occurs after the machine has spent some time in an off state.  

This is the "all in one" device I was mentioning earlier.  ( ) -- Basically, power, USB, and display port plug into the computer and the monitor acts like an all-in-one.  the network cable, however, is still plugged directly into the PC.
Question by:Daniel Checksum
LVL 54

Assisted Solution

McKnife earned 125 total points
ID: 41830622
I have come across this problem. There was no solution. I disabled it in the bios, re-enabled it and it started working again. Two years, it worked, until again for no apparent reason, one day it stopped. It is simply not 100% stable. (please note that this was just 1 workstation, so my experience with WOL is low).

Author Comment

by:Daniel Checksum
ID: 41830628
I was wondering if it was intermittent.  That's what it seemed to be, the group of users affected by it seems to change slightly from week to week, I haven't nailed down 100% exactly which users are affected but I notice some work when the previous week they didn't.  I'm in the middle of reinstalling the ORIGINAL version of the software we had that was running.  Version 2.7.3 when they're on version 2.11.x  -- gonna see if the old version is more stable PLUS this allows me to set up the settings from scratch to see if anything was missed.
LVL 92

Assisted Solution

nobus earned 125 total points
ID: 41831229
can Aquila technologies not be of any help here?
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LVL 33

Accepted Solution

sarabande earned 250 total points
ID: 41831362
to make WOL work you need

(1) have a network that supports WOL . the tool sends a UDP broadcast (or netcast) that needs to be transported by all devices between sender and receiver (switches/routers).

(2) the receivers need to be permanently under power. if there has been a power interruption WOL won't work anymore.
(3) in BIOS and Windows Advanced Power Management (APM) or Advanced Configuration and Power  
   Interface (ACPI) need to be active.
(4) in BIOS respectively Windows / networkcard drivers WOL needs to be activated (enabled).
(5) the computer needs to be in a defined „sleep state“ (S3 to S5) (standby, sleeping, shutdown),

i would assume that either (2) or (5) are the most reasonable cases for so many notebooks to fail.

if (2) the notebooks would at some point break the power completely for some time (perhaps if they were completely charged).

if (5) Windows would not go to S3 anymore but only to S1 mode (holds only the processor and system bus).

if any of the two an active user shutdown should help.


Author Comment

by:Daniel Checksum
ID: 41831782
Sara, we're not using this process on the notebooks.  Just stated that we're 50/50 laptop/desktop.  The desktops are the only ones we're attempting it on/having this problem.

This entire process was functioning up until about a month ago with no changes to the network other than installing a new server for Backup Exec which should have nothing to do with it.  The machines have a scheduled task to shutdown at ~11pm every evening so they should be in one of those modes.(shutdown).  The receivers are under permanent power, we're in a large tower with power protection for the whole building.  Have yet to have a UPS problem, in fact, firewall's been up for 1100 days or some craziness.  

We haven't pushed any updates in the last month, we haven't changed the environment in any way, these machines...just...stopped.  Now my list of PCs that don't start up is different from the list yesterday.  Can't find anything different between the PCs to cause this.  Our desktops DO have a setting in BIOS to power themselves on on a schedule -- I think I may look to doing this, unfortunately that means touching all of our desktops in the environment as I don't know a way to push bios settings over the network.(is this even possible?)
LVL 33

Assisted Solution

sarabande earned 250 total points
ID: 41832144
in my opinion the only thing left is a weak hardware for example a cable or router where not all wake-up broadcasts reach their destination. note, udp different to tcp would not be repeated if there was a collision or incomplete data received.


Author Comment

by:Daniel Checksum
ID: 41832185
Right, UDP is one-way, no handshake, so if it fails, it fails.  Just found out this morning we'll be upgrading our switching environment soon so maybe that will resolve it.  Thanks everyone, gonna go ahead and close it out.

Author Closing Comment

by:Daniel Checksum
ID: 41832187
Thanks everyone, gonna try a few smaller things, then wait for hardware upgrades to complete and test again.

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