How to enable and use Wake on LAN (WoL) on Windows 10

Windows 10 Wake On Lan Settings
Windows 10 Wake On Lan Settings (Image credit: Future)

In computing, Wake on LAN (WoL) is a networking standard protocol that can turn on a device from a low-power state using a special signal over the local network (also referred to as a magic packet). You can think of it as a remote power button on your computer.

Typically, this feature comes in handy to maintain a connection to your computer to access files and applications while minimizing power usage since you can put the device to sleep when not in use.

After enabling Wake on LAN in the Basic Input Output System (BIOS) or Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) on supported hardware and in the Windows 10 network adapter, you can use third-party tools to send a magic packet over the network containing the MAC address of the remote computer to wake it up.

This guide will walk you through the steps to enable and use Wake on LAN to turn on computers in the network.

How to enable Wake on LAN on Windows 10

If you want to use the WoL feature, you must enable it first on the motherboard firmware (or on the network adapter if you are using an external device) and then on the system settings. Also, the feature only works when the computer is asleep, but some devices support waking from hibernation or powered off state, even though Windows 10 does not participate in the process.

BIOS/UEFI configuration

To enable Wake on LAN on the device firmware, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Update & Security.
  3. Click on Recovery.
  4. Under the "Advanced startup" section, click the Restart now button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click on Troubleshoot.
  2. Click on Advanced options.
  3. Click the UEFI Firmware Settings option.

UEFI Firmware Settings

(Image credit: Source: Windows Central)
  1. Click the Restart button.

In the firmware settings, navigate to the power options and enable the "Wake on LAN" (WoL) feature. The feature may have a slightly different name since most manufacturers build their firmware differently. If this is the case, check the device documentation online for more specific details.

Once you complete the steps, you can proceed with the instructions to configure the feature on Windows 10.

If your device does not support Wake on LAN, you can always get an adapter like the USB-A 3.0 to RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet LAN Adapter from "uni" that provides support to wake a device from sleep at a reasonable price.

Windows configuration

To enable WoL on Windows 10, use these steps:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Network & Internet.
  3. Click on Status.
  4. Under the "Advanced network settings" section, click the Change adapter options button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Right-click the active network adapter and select the Properties option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Networking tab.
  2. Click the Configure button.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the Advanced tab.
  2. Select the Wake on Magic Packet option.
  3. Use the "Value" drop-down menu and select the Enabled option.

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  1. (Optional) Select the Wake on pattern match option.
  2. Use the "Value" drop-down menu and select the Enabled option.
  3. (Optional) Select the WoL & Shutdown Link Speed option.
  4. Use the "Value" drop-down menu and select the 10Mbps option.
  • Quick note: The optional settings may be required if you use a network adapter from Realtek.
  1. Click the Power Management tab.
  2. Check the Allow this device to wake the computer option.
  3. Check the Only allow a magic packet to wake the computer option.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Click the OK button.

After you complete the steps, the device will be ready for the remote magic packet using a third-party tool.

If you don't want to use the feature, you can use the same instructions outlined above to disable Wake on LAN, but on step No. 9, make sure to select the Disabled option. In addition to disabling the feature, you may also want to turn off the WoL feature inside the device firmware using your manufacturer's instructions.

How to wake up a computer remotely on Windows 10

Once the feature has been configured, you can turn on the computer in multiple ways. For instance, you can use the WoL tool built into the router. You may be able to find scripts that you can use with PowerShell. Or you can use third-party tools to send the magic packet to wake up the device.

For the purpose of this guide, we'll use the "WakeMeOnLan" tool from NirSoft to wake a device remotely:

Warning: Although the app works as advertised, it's a third-party tool, and you should use it only at your own risk. You have been warned.

  1. Open the NirSoft download page.
  2. Click the download link to save the app on your device.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Extract the contents from the .zip folder with File Explorer.
  2. Open the folder with the extracted files.
  3. Double-click the WakeMeOnLan.exe file to launch the standalone tool.
  4. Click the Play (Start Scanning) button to discover all the devices in the network.
  • Quick note: The device you want to wake up remotely has to be turned on for the tool to find it. Once it is on the list, the device can be offline to use the WoL feature. You can also use the Ctrl + N keyboard shortcut to add the remote computer information (IP address, computer name, and MAC address) manually.
  1. Right-click the remote computer and select the Wake Up Selected Computers option.

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  1. Click the Yes button.

Once you complete the steps, the tool will send the magic packet, which should turn on the device immediately if the network adapter is still operational, even when the computer is turned off.

Confirm IP and MAC address

If you use another tool, you have to determine the IP and MAC address of the computer to wake up, which you can easily do from the Settings app. Here's how:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Click on Network & Internet.
  3. Click on Status.
  4. Under the "Network status" section, click the Properties button for the active connection.

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Under the "Properties" section, confirm the IPv4 address and Physical address (MAC).

(Image credit: Future)

If you use Command Prompt, you can query the adapter addresses using the ipconfig /all command.

Once you complete the steps, you can use the addresses with the utility of your choice to wake up a remote computer.

How to troubleshoot Wake on LAN feature on Windows 10

If the device does not wake up with these instructions, you can perform a few things to troubleshoot the problem.

The system must support Wake on LAN at the firmware level. If the option is unavailable in the motherboard's BIOS or UEFI or the network adapter (for example, USB to Ethernet adapter), you won't be able to use the feature.

If you use a USB to Ethernet adapter, WoL may only work when the computer is sleeping since powering off the device may also stop providing power to the USB port.

You may need to disable fast startup to allow the feature to work.

The ability to turn on a device remotely only works if the network adapter is active and reachable. If you use an Ethernet connection, confirm the lights on the card are still blinking after the device is powered down.

On a laptop, you must ensure the device is connected to a power outlet. Otherwise, it won't work.

When using this feature, you may also encounter networking problems that may prevent the device from waking up. If you suspect a networking issue, use the ping command to confirm the source can contact the target device. Also, it is a good idea to double-check that you are using the target computer's correct MAC and IP address. You can get this networking information using the ipconfig command (see the above link to learn more).

More Windows resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Mauro Huculak is technical writer for WindowsCentral.com. His primary focus is to write comprehensive how-tos to help users get the most out of Windows 10 and its many related technologies. He has an IT background with professional certifications from Microsoft, Cisco, and CompTIA, and he's a recognized member of the Microsoft MVP community.