Wake-on-LAN (WOL) is an Ethernet networking standard that allows a shut down computer to be turned on remotely. Most recent motherboards that have an integrated Ethernet controller support this feature. You can enable the Wake-on-LAN feature in the Power Management section of the motherboard’s BIOS. Wake-on-LAN can turn on a computer on the same local area network or at another location via the internet.
This is how Wake-on-LAN works; the target computer is shut down with enough power reserved only for the network adapter to function. It listens for a small piece of incoming data called the “magic packet”. When the network adapter receives a valid magic packet, the computer starts up. This packet of data is 102 bytes consisting of “FF FF FF FF FF FF” followed by 16 repetitions of the listening network device’s MAC address.
Wake-on-LAN starts the computer from its “off” state and is like pressing the power button to turn it on and boot up as normal. It’s not to be confused with waking the computer up from standby or sleep. Here are several ways you can turn on a computer using Wake-on-LAN from within your local network or remotely over the internet.
Wake-on-LAN over the Local Area Network
These tools will allow you to send the magic packet and start another computer in your local network.
1. Nirsoft WakeMeOnLan
WakeMeOnLan is another useful and portable utility from NirSoft that displays a list of computers on the network and allows you to switch one or all of them on with the click of a button. Scan the network by pressing F5 and it will display all connected computers. For a computer you want to send the magic packet to, either make sure it’s on before scanning or add it manually from the File menu (Ctrl+N).
Select the computer to start and click the Wake button (F8). The list of computers is saved and will be loaded the next time you start the program. Options like changing the port, sending the magic packet xx times, and the broadcast address can be changed in the settings. WakeMeOnLan has command line options and a computer can be started by either its IP address, name, MAC address or even the predefined text description you give it.
WakeonLANx is a compact and portable tool that can perform a number of tasks in addition to Wake-on-LAN. These include pinging target computers, remote reboot/shutdown, retrieving last boot time, getting drive space usage or service status, starting a remote desktop connection, and creating a schedule for remote startups and shutdowns.
Adding a remote computer is not automatic and you have to do it manually. Click the Add button and supply either a MAC address only or IP address and then MAC address on the same line. Make sure to put a hash (#) before any MAC. For example, “#00-24-75-41-4F-9A” or “192.168.0.10#00-24-75-41-4F-9A” will work. The broadcast address and port can be changed by right clicking on any of the entries.
3. FUSION WOL
This free utility dates back to 2005 but still works well. We’re not sure why it comes only as an installer because FUSION WOL is a 125KB standalone executable. As the tool has pretty much been abandoned by its developer, we’ve zipped up the file (and its help PDF) to make it portable.
You only need to supply a MAC address to turn on another computer. If you don’t know what that is, supply the IP address and click Get MAC. FUSION WOL has the ability to get the MAC address from an IP address, even if the target computer is off. The password box can be left blank unless you know one is needed. Entering an IP address at the bottom will tell you if the target computer is currently on or off.
Wake-on-LAN over the Internet (Wake-on-WAN)
Make sure to configure your router to forward the required UDP port to the computer that you want to boot up or it will not work. Using a port such as 9 or 7 is recommended although you can use almost any port you wish. Refer to PortForward.com on how to configure port forwarding for your router.
4. Depicus Wake on Lan
Depicus Wake on Lan is a small and portable tool that is able to boot up a computer using Wake-on-LAN over the internet or over the local network.
Simply select Internet or Local subnet from the dropdown and enter the MAC address, IP address or host name, subnet mask (usually 255.255.255.255), and the port. If you are using Wake-on-LAN locally the internet address box doesn’t need to be filled.
5. SoftPerfect Network Scanner
Sadly, Network Scanner went full shareware back in 2016 but the previous freeware version still works fine. This tool can perform a number of tasks such as scanning, pinging and getting detailed information about remote computers, discovering shared folders, and remote standby/shutdown. WOL is done via the Wake-on-LAN Manager, which you can get to from the toolbar or the Options menu.
To Wake-on-LAN via the internet, click Add and choose IPv4, enter the MAC address of the target computer, its external IP address and the port. Enter a host name instead of an IP address if you chose that option. To start a local computer you only have to add the MAC address and port, the target host can be left alone. You can also wake up a single computer with just its MAC address from the bottom of the WOL Manager.
If you’re unable to remotely turn on your computer using any of the tools listed above, you need to make sure that your computer is Wake-On-LAN ready by checking your system settings. There’s also 5 more ways to remotely turn on a computer with Wake-on-LAN. Find out more on page 2.