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Sunday, April 24, 2005; Page F07

Q To save electricity, should I start up my computer and monitor fresh each day? I've heard that a PC uses a lot more power as it starts up.

ANot so. The Cadmus Group of Watertown, Mass., wrote in a report that any start-up power surges "are so brief that they do not lead to any noticeable additional energy use." Similarly, computers are built to withstand far more on/off cycles than any one machine should experience over even seven years of use.

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But leaving a computer on overnight does waste electricity. You should set your machine to go into its sleep mode. Most computers use hardly any more electricity when they are asleep than when they are off but are still plugged in. David Korn, a principal with the Cadmus Group, said a desktop or monitor will each draw about 1 to 3 watts in sleep, compared with roughly 1 watt when turned off but plugged in.

That leaves start-up times as an issue, and those, unfortunately, are not getting any shorter. So at home, I let my computers sleep when they are not in use.

You wrote last week about using a second WiFi access point to extend an existing network. How do I do that?

Buy a second access point from the same manufacturer -- this range-extension trick, called wireless distribution system, or WDS for short, is difficult or impossible to set up across different brands of WiFi gear. (Many older access points don't support WDS at all.)

The exact steps needed to configure an access point to act as a WDS repeater vary with each model, so you'll then have to crack open the manual that came with yours to see exactly what you'll need to do.

-- Rob Pegoraro

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or rob@twp.com.


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