I've got Windows 7 set up on my media box.

It's set to sleep after 30 mins of inactivity, but it doesn't seem to work as advertised. In the last two weeks it's gone to sleep during a file copy operation and again while encoding an MP4 file.

Is there any way to get Windows to realise that it's actually busy?

  • Could you describe the hardware a little better? Perhaps it's a known issue
    – Ivo Flipse
    Commented Sep 30, 2009 at 6:06

4 Answers 4


The inactivity timer is user inactivity, not system inactivity. If it was based on the system, it would never sleep since services wake up to run their jobs, scheduled tasks may run, your anti-virus may make a background scan. You'll notice that Windows itself is hardly ever idle for more than a few seconds (which isn't a problem).

There are multiple ways to get your system to stay awake, the easiest of them is to create a new power profile that either extends (say 4 hours) or completely turns off the sleep timer while you are encoding.

Another, cheap and easy way, is to load a video or audio file in Windows Media Player, and pause it. This will cause WMP to tell the system not to sleep because it is "playing" a media file.

Most encoders I've seen (well, the wrapper programs anyway) allow you to tell it to perform an action when complete or to prevent sleeping while it's running. Unfortunately, there isn't really anything you can do when copying files though, other than the above advice.

  • That's fair, and a good idea. But doesn't it seem to be a major oversight, allowing the computer to sleep while copying files? Commented Oct 7, 2009 at 2:35
  • keeping a paused video open seems to work. but windows should really not sleep when copying a large file. Commented Dec 1, 2022 at 14:45

i believe windows detects inactivity as user inactivity, rather than system inactivity. I've had a number of cases where we've had to disable the power saving functionality in windows 7 in our virtual environments for similar reasons, where we have never had to with 2000,xp,2003,2008, and.. well, we never bothered much with vista. :-)


A Mouse Jiggler. We use one of these during presentations, critical operations, and forensic style investigations, to prevent computers from sleeping or locking into a screensaver.


A free mouse jiggler - very effective.

  • 2
    broken link broken link (I said it twice 'cos character min limit)
    – barlop
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 10:21

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