Automatically shutting down a Windows XP PC when not being used.

Hi Folks.
I'm looking for a simple & preferably free program that will turn off a Windows XP computer when is has been idle for a set period.
Our twenty something kids cannot get it into their heads that they need to turn off their machines when they go out so I want to install a program that I can configure to shut down the machine after about an hour of inactivity.
I know I can set it to hibernate or go into standby but I don't want to do that I want to turn it off altogether.
Any help would be appreciated.
thanks in advance.

Thanks for all the suggestions folks, I have decided to go for the solution of installing PC Anywhere on all the machines in the house.
Not only will this enable me to shut them down if I need to without having to keep going into the kids rooms but it also means I can ensure things like virus/malware scans are run regularly.
Thanks again for all your help.

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Vyger5 years ago
There is a program called a remote shutdown manager. It allows you to shut down all the computers on a network from a remote place. When I was doing tech support for a small school district I installed it on the server (with the administrations approval) and it allowed me to turn off computers left on from 50 miles away. I don't remember there being a timer in it. I just ran it in the evening to turn off anything left on that was not supposed to be on. We also had it set up as an emergency shut down routine so if there was a really bad lightening storm the school administrator could just hit the "shut everything down" button and within 2 minutes every computer on the network was powered off. Does that sound like something your looking for?
Nostalgic Guy (author)  Vyger5 years ago
I have decide to give yours the best answer as it was you who reminded me that I still had an unused copy of PC anywhere I could make use of to solve my problem along with a couple of other benefits.
Thanks again.
Nostalgic Guy (author)  Vyger5 years ago
I used to run a tech support department & we used similar things on our network all the time.
I do have an old copy of PC anywhere which I may set up on them, that way I can check the machines on the network & also make certain that updates & scans are kept up to date.
Thanks for the suggestion.
frollard5 years ago
It's been a while since I looked at the XP menu, but its pretty similar to these days;

You need to look in Control Panel >> Power options

In there will be what to do with hard disks, monitor, and entire computer after x minutes...

You can have the computer sleep (takes it down to just a few watts of standby power) or fully turn off or hibernate after x inactivity.
Nostalgic Guy (author)  frollard5 years ago
Thanks but I have already tried that, the option to shut down is not there only standby & hibernate neither of which are really what I want.
Quite why this particular version of Windows does not have it I really don't know it is a fully licensed genuine installation so it's not like one of the "custom" hacked versions that has been altered for some inexplicable reason not to shut down.
I have never had reason to use it before so perhaps it's just something I have not noticed in the plethora of XP updates the Microsoft churned out.

There's also

Schedule a task of shutting down the computer for a specific time, and include that it must be idle for x time before the task will run...

Nostalgic Guy (author)  frollard5 years ago
Thanks, I've had a look at it but the problem is that the boys work a lot of odd shifts so it's not really an ideal solution.
What I need is something that will shut the machine down when it has been idle for a set period any time of day, that way if they go out or doze off & forget to shut down it will do it for them.
Right, then definitely a software solution -- that said, you live in the UK correct? Does your house heating turn on this time of year? (probably not in the summer)...but if it ever turns on, a thought

a sleeping computer at 1-10 watts is essentially a tiny heater, reducing your heating bill. Where I live, in Calgary, Canada, we need our furnaces until June (sporadcially) so really a sleeping computer really isn't all that bad.
IDK you were a Calgarian... ;-)

You know the extra heat the machine generates keeps the room a little more cozy too for the winter. ;-)
Nostalgic Guy (author)  canucksgirl5 years ago
Lol a good point & in the winter it may be worth bearing in mind :-)
However we are currently experiencing temperatures in excess of 27-28c so if anything I want to cool the rooms down :-)
Like frollard said, a hibernating computer is like one that is shut down (meaning its not sucking power and blowing heat); but it will power up faster when needed (while leaving programs open the way they were).

Although I appreciate your point, I'm not aware of any "auto-shut down" option with an XP (and I've been in this industry a long time, having started on even older OS's than an XP). So, the only other option is installing an executable script on each of the machines that will initiate the shut down with a certain amount of inactivity. The problem however, is that if files are left open and unsaved, the exe file will get a prompt of "are you sure? do you want to save?" and won't know what to do with it unless the script is also written to manage this. IMHO, that route would be more trouble than its worth.
Definitely, if in a region where the area must be actively cooled to be comfortable, then ANY excess heat is a problem -- like you said, a full shutdown program is recommended.

That said, Hibernation on a computer is full power off - as much power off as you would get turning the machine off - just with a quicker resume after power on.
Indeed, born and raised Albertan, here in Calgary for career : )

iirc you're in Vancouver correct?
Yes I am. ;-) Born and raised in B.C.
canucksgirl5 years ago
The only thing that I'm aware of that you can use (aside from an executable script) would be a hibernating mode (like what a laptop would do). When a PC go into a hibernating mode, it won't connect to a network, but it will save anything that was left open when the worker nods off or forgets to shut it down. It's like an extreme power saving mode, and its probably your next best option (because exe scripts might not always work with all programs that are left open).

If you think that might work for you, you can read this link for all the steps. (I haven't used an XP machine in quite a while).
Nostalgic Guy (author)  canucksgirl5 years ago
Thanks, I have considered the hibernate option but I would much prefer to shut down completely.
Part of the problem is that at least one of these machines may only get used one a week so even on hibernate it is a waste of energy to leave it running.
We don't like going into the kids rooms they are young adults & need their privacy so we don't really want to have to go & check the machines whenever they go out hence my preference for an automatic solution for a total shutdown.
Burf5 years ago
Here is a page at fileguru with several different XP idle shutdown programs you can check out. I've never used any of them so I have no recommendations.
Nostalgic Guy (author)  Burf5 years ago
Thanks I will check them out :-)