The Wake-On-LAN standard allows one to remotely turn on a computer. It is built into most modern computers although its use is not that widespread. There are several reasons for that. First, it requires some efforts to configure it on computers to make them “wakeable”. However, being able to remotely turn on a computer can turn out to be very useful. Of course, in addition to a properly configured computer an essential component of a Wake-On-LAN infrastructure, some mean or remotely turning them on must be provided. This is where the Wake-On-LAN tools come in. They will send the properly formed packet to turn on either a specific computer or a range of them. With many tools available, picking the best one for your needs can be tricky. This is why we’ve compiled this list of the best Wake-On-LAN tools.
Our journey will start off by having a look at the Wake-On-LAN standard. Without going overly technical, we’ll explore what it is, where it is coming from, and how it works. This background information will make it easier to better appreciate our review of the different tools available. Then, we’ll briefly talk about the need for Wake-on-LAN tools. And finally, we’ll have quick reviews of some of the very best Wake-On-LAN tools.
Wake-on-LAN—What is it All About?
Simply put, Wake-on-LAN (WOL) is a computer networking standard that allows a computer to be turned on or awakened by a network message. That message is usually sent to the target computer by a program executed on a device connected to the same local area network. However, it is possible to initiate the message from another network by using subnet-directed broadcasts or a WOL gateway service. Let’s dig a bit deeper and explore how it works. As you’re about to see, it’s magic!
Network data transfers are based on frames sent between computers. Wake-on-LAN uses a specially designed frame called a “magic” packet (didn’t I tell you it was magic?), which is broadcast to all computers in a network, including the computer to be awakened. The magic packet contains the MAC address of the computer to be awakened. A MAC address, in case you don’t already know, is a unique identifying number built into each network interface. It enables any connected device to be uniquely recognized and addressed on a network.
Powered-down or turned off computers capable of Wake-on-LAN have a network interface that is able to “listen” to incoming packets in low-power mode while the system is powered down. When a magic packet is received is its MAC address corresponds to that of the computer, its interface signals the power supply or the motherboard to initiate system start-up, in the same way that pressing the power button would do.
Wake-on-Lan is a crude technology and, as such, it has some drawbacks and limitations. For instance, the whole mechanism is not secure in any way and any connected computer could send magic packets to wake any other device. The Secure-On feature was created to circumvent this limitation. It works by storing a WOL password within the network interface card which will only wake the computer if a magic packet contains a matching password. Other limitations of the system include requiring knowledge of the destination computer MAC address, not providing any delivery confirmation, and requiring it to be supported by the destination device, just to name a few.
About Wake-on-LAN Tools
Now that you know more about Wake-on-LAN, you may be wondering what WOL tools are all about. There’s no simple answer to that question. Different tools have different feature sets. However, their main purpose is typically to send magic packets to computers in order to wake them up. Where the multiple tools differ is on what extra features they offer. For instance, some tools could allow the scheduled awakening of selected computers. Others could have verification features that will verify that the awaken computers are actually up and running. Other yet could trigger various actions once the computers have been remotely started.
The Best Wake-On-LAN Tools
Enough with the theory. The time has come to have a look at some of the very best Wake-on-LAN tools we could find. We’ve tried to include various tools with different functionalities to give you a better idea of what’s available.
What network administrator doesn’t know SolarWinds. The company has been among the top vendors of network and system administration tools for some twenty years. It has brought us a large array of tools, including its flagship product, the Network Performance Monitor which is generally recognized as one of the very best network bandwidth monitoring tools. But it doesn’t stop there, SolarWinds is also famous for its many free tools. They are smaller tools, each addressing a specific need of network administrators. Two excellent examples of these are the Advanced Subnet Calculator and the Kiwi Syslog Server.
Another of SolarWinds’ free tools is the Wake-On-LAN tool. This is a very simple tool that has a single purpose: waking up a remote computer. The tool will accept a MAC address as its input and generate and send out an appropriately crafted magic packet, thereby waking up the target computer. Oddly, the tool also requires to enter the IP address of the computer to wake up. At first, this may seem strange as the Wake-on-LAN standard only uses MAC addresses. The reason why an IP address is also required has to do with what the tool does after the magic packet is sent.
- FREE DOWNLOAD: SolarWinds Wake-On-LAN
- Official Download Link: https://www.solarwinds.com/free-tools/wake-on-lan/registration
Once the command to wake the remote computer is sent, the SolarWinds Wake-on-LAN tool immediately opens a secondary window where a confirmation that the command was successful will eventually appear, once the remote computer finishes booting. This feature relies on ping to confirm the status and ping, as you probably know, is based on IP addresses which is why an IP address was required.
The SolarWinds Wake-On-LAN tool is a free tool which is available for download from the SolarWinds website.
The SolarWinds Wake-On-LAN tool is also available as part of the Engineer’s Toolset. This is a bundle of some 60 useful tools aimed at network engineers and administrators. It includes several dedicated troubleshooting tools. Some of the included tools, such as the Wake-On LAN tool, are available for free from SolarWinds but most are exclusive to this toolset and cannot be obtained otherwise. It includes tools such as Ping Sweep, DNS Analyzer and TraceRoute that can be used to perform network diagnostics and help resolve complex network issues quickly. For the security-oriented administrators, some of the toolset’s tools can be used to simulate attacks and help identify vulnerabilities.
- FREE TRIAL: SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset
- Official Download Link: https://www.solarwinds.com/engineers-toolset/registration
Some of the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset tools can monitor your devices and raise alerts for availability or health issues. Some can also be used for configuration management and log consolidation. There are simply too many tools to describe them all in details. Here are some of the tools you’ll find in the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset:
- Port Scanner
- Switch Port Mapper
- SNMP sweep
- IP Network Browser
- MAC Address Discovery
- Ping Sweep
- Response Time Monitor
- CPU Monitor
- Memory Monitor
- Interface Monitor
- Router Password Decryption
- SNMP Brute Force Attack
- SNMP Dictionary Attack
- Config Compare, Downloader, Uploader, and Editor
- Subnet Calculator
- DHCP Scope Monitor
- DNS Structure Analyzer
- DNS Audit
- IP Address Management
With so many tools included in the SolarWinds Engineer’s Toolset, your best bet probably is to give it a try and see for yourself all that it can do for you. A free 14-day trial version can be downloaded from SolarWinds so there is no reason not to try it.
2. Depicus Wake-on-LAN Tools
Depicus is a software development company that makes several tools. Among the tools it offers are several Wake-on-LAN tools. The company even has a web-based Wake-on-LAN tool that can be used to remotely start a computer from anywhere on the web. This is mostly for home computers and it requires some tricky configuration on your Internet router but it could be handy if you ever need to boot up your home computer from a distant location.
The company also offers several Wake-on-LAN tools for Windows. There is, for instance, a GUI version of the tool as well as a command line version. There is also a Wake-on-LAN Monitor/Sniffer application which can be run on a machine on the same subnet as the machine you want to wake up to test if the Magic packet signal is reaching that subnet.
But Depicus does not only offer Windows applications. There are also two OS X applications for Mac users. Like their Windows counterparts, one has a GUI while the other is a command line tool. And to top it all off, Depicus also offer mobile Wake-on-LAN apps. They are available for iOS to run on iPhones and iPads as well as for Android. There’s even a dedicated app the Apple TV.
Price-wise, the Windows Wake-on-LAN tools are free but the other Mac OS X, iOS, and Android version must be purchased. None of them cost more than a could of dollars, though. And they all get the job done, no matter what platform you use.
3. NirSoft WakeMeOnLan
NirSoft makes a long list of tools to assist network administrators and engineers with their daily tasks. WakeMeOnLan is the name of the company’s Wake-on-LAN tool. The tool has in an interesting twist that can make it pretty useful. While many Wake-on-LAN tools assume that you know the MAC address of any computer you want to remotely boot, this tool can help you with that.
WakeMeOnLan lets you scan your network at a time when all computers are powered up and it will collect all of their MAC addresses, saving the information to a file. When you later need to remotely start a powered-off computer, you can refer to that file to easily choose the computer—or computers—you want to turn on and turn them all on with a single click.
WakeMeOnLan comes with two user interfaces. There’s a user-friendly GUI version as well as a command-line version of the tool. Both offer equivalent functionality. The tool is available in both 32 and 64 bits versions and in more than twenty languages. The NirSoft website provides ample documentation on how to use the tool—particularly the command-line version; the GUI version is self-explanatory—and the tool appears to receive regular updates.
4. Aquila Wake on LAN
Aquila Wake on LAN from Aquilatech is a feature-rich product when compared to some other products on the market. Here’s an overview of all it can do:
- Wake up a remote computer that is powered off
- Shutdown a remote computer
- Ping the selected remote computer to display its status
- Perform an emergency shutdown of all selected computers at once
- Connect to the remote server via Remote Desktop
- Listen for magic packets (to aid with troubleshooting Wake-on-LAN issues)
- Schedule wake ups and shutdowns
The software comes with both as user-friendly GUI and a command line interfaces. It will support complex network environments by using subnet-directed broadcasts. It also includes tools that allow you to scan a network for hosts, IP addresses and MAC addresses. The tool also keeps an event log where you’ll find a history of wake-ups, shutdowns, and exceptions.
A feature we really loved about this tool is how its Search function will attempt to determine if WOL is enabled on scanned Windows computers. This could avoid surprises down the line. There’s also a useful function that allows you to stagger multiple wake-up events, thereby avoiding power spikes. The tool also has an advanced notification system which includes system tray notifications, sound notifications, email notifications, and balloon tips.
The free tool, which runs on Windows, is available in over a dozen languages from Aquilatech’s website.
5. Wake On LAN (Magic Packet)
Wake On LAN from HM Software NL is a free Windows tool that’s available from the Windows app store. It only works on Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile versions. It is a simple utility with a single purpose, sending a magic packet to the specified host. The tool’s initial configuration requires that you create “wakeable” devices which will appear in the tool’s main windows. Every created device has a name, an icon, and, of course, its MAC address.
Once devices are added to the tool, sending the Wake-on-LAN magic packet is a simple task. You just need to click the computer’s icon in the tool’s window and choose “Send WOL (Magic Packet)” There’s not much more that can be said about this tool. Reviews on the Windows app store are generally good and positive and the tool has a more than acceptable 4.6 stars rating. The only negative comments about the tools are to the effect that it is limited in functionality but everyone seems to agree that it works well.
6. EMCO WakeOnLan
EMCO WakeOnLan is a full-featured tool that allows you to power up networked computers quickly and easily. It also automates all aspects of the Wake-on-LAN process from collecting MAC addresses to sending WOL packets.
The main difference between this product and other Wake-on-LAN utilities on our list is that EMCO WakeOnLan is designed to wake up multiple computers simultaneously, and it is ready to work in large networks with a complex structure. The software can automate all operations required to wake up networked computers. It will scan the network to detect available computers, It will also collect the MAC addresses of all networked computers using various methods. Finally, the tool will, of course, Wake-on-LAN magic packets.
The software includes a built-in scheduling module. Wake-on-LAN tasks can, therefore, be executed automatically at a specified time. This can be a useful feature when you want to deploy software to remote computers and need to first make sure they are all turned on.
EMCO WakeOnLan supports different Wake-on-LAN delivery methods and is able not only to wake up computers located in the same subnet but also those located on remote subnets. Another useful feature of the tool is its monitoring engine which checks the status of remote computers after a magic packet has been sent and reports whether the operation was executed successfully or not.
7. Wake On LAN X
Wake On LAN X claims to be “the best free wake on LAN, free remote reboot, and free remote shutdown tool available”. This is a tool which was obviously designed to be simple and intuitive. It is also portable; no installation is necessary. You just launch the executable and you’re ready to go. You first prepare the tool by loading a list of computer names, IP addresses or MAC addresses (the latter is required for Wake-on-LAN functionality but the software can find the MAC addresses for you). Then you highlight one, some, or all of the rows in the grid to perform actions of your choice the selected computers. You may either right-click on the currently selected rows or use the Actions menu to select an action to perform.
Using Wake On LAN X, you can reboot or shut down one or several remote computers simultaneously, while monitoring their status in real-time with integrated pinging. Of course, the tool has Wake-on-LAN capabilities, again on one or several remote computers. No agent is required to be installed on remote computers, however, Wake-on-LAN must be configured on each one. The software also features an integrated task scheduler that will let you launch any task on a specific date and time.
The tool also has some interesting diagnostic functionalities such as the possibility to retrieve the last boot time from remote hosts or to retrieve the list of services that are set to “Automatic” but not currently running on the remote hosts, helping diagnose boot up issues.