Wake on LAN in SimpleHelp

Details on the SimpleHelp 4.2 feature that allows technicians to remotely wake up machines by issuing a Wake on LAN instruction.

The new remote access framework in 4.2 allows SimpleHelp to monitor remote machines easily and quickly, meaning we can show screenshots and other information on demand without establishing a new connection and can also upload a bunch of other useful information over time like CPU and Disk stats.

This underlying framework isn’t just one-way, it allows quick communication in both directions opening up a host of other possibilities. One feature which has been requested a number of times in the past is Wake on LAN.

Wake on LAN allows a computer that is awake to send a network packet to another sleeping computer on the same network to wake it up. This isn’t possible in all circumstances, for it to work the ‘sleeping’ computer actually has to be awake at the level of the network card and listening for an incoming packet of the right type to trigger the wakeup. Additionally, the packet has to include certain information about the remote computer (namely its network card MAC address) in order to wake it up, otherwise the packet will be ignored.

For example computers like laptops etc. typically don’t do WOL over wireless connections since this would require a lot more power to maintain the connection while the computer was supposed to be sleeping (and conserving power). Desktops and servers though often support WOL on their network cards and can be woken with a magic network packet to gain access to them without leaving them all on all the time.

Using our new framework we can now quickly ask remote hosts to send out a WOL packet to another host on the same network to wake them up:

Wake on Lan

Further, because we already gather information from remote hosts you don’t need to input any information about the remote host to be woken, all you need to do is select one or more sleeping Remote Access Services and ask for them to be woken up. Your SimpleHelp server’s monitoring means it has enough information to know:

  • Which hosts are awake (and can therefore be asked to send a WOL packet)
  • Which hosts are on the same network as your target host
  • The MAC address and IP of the target machine

When you ask it to wake a sleeping machine it checks the network information for the target machine, correlates it with a selection of live machines that are on the same network and asks them to send out a WOL packet to the target host.