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Updated: January 30, 2013 4:44 AM

Review: Switch lets you shut down any Windows computer remotely, even using Twitter



Review: Switch lets you shut down any Windows computer remotely, even using Twitter

Review: Switch lets you shut down any Windows computer remotely, even using Twitter

You know what's frustrating? When something that's supposed to be really simple turns out to be complicated to the point of impossibility. For example, remotely shutting down a Windows computer: This is not rocket science. In fact, it's something built into Windows, and Microsoft even provides an extra tool for free, to make it easier. Yet try as I might, I couldn't get either of these tools to work. I spent hours perusing forums and tweaking firewall settings, user accounts, group policies, and anything else I could think of–and I still couldn't shut down my computer remotely. That is, until I installed $9 utility Switch.

Switch presents a beautiful, simple Web-based interface for shutting down the computer remotely.

Switch was a breath of fresh air. Finally, something simple that just does what it's supposed to do. With Switch installed, I could shut down my file server using any computer on my LAN, without installing any client software. All I needed was a regular Web browser, which I'd just point at the file server's IP address. Switch shows up as a pretty webpage with a Shut Down button. Click the button, and the computer running Switch goes bye-bye. It's that simple.

Of course, that's not everything Switch does: That Shut Down button has a drop-down component that can be used to reboot the computer or make it go to sleep. It can also do all three operations (shut down, reboot, and sleep) after a ten-minute delay–not something I'd personally use, but the option is there.

You can use Switch for setting up automated shutdowns.

You can also use Switch to automate shutdowns. The simplest example is shutting down the computer at a set time: It took me less than a minute to set up a rule that shuts down my file server every day at 5am. You can have more sophisticated rules–Switch can monitor the list of running processes and take action as soon as a certain process (application) starts up or terminates. It can also listen for a tweet from your account (or any account you choose) containing specific text, which means you can shut down your computer remotely from anywhere without setting up any special Firewall rules or using a custom client.

Finally, Switch can repeatedly ping an address on your local network or on the Web, and take action as soon as it becomes unavailable for a few minutes. This is a good way to have your desktop automatically shut down once you leave the house with your laptop or smartphone: Your laptop or smartphone will just go dark on the local network, and Switch will detect that and shut down the computer. The only caveat is that you'll have to configure your router to always assign the same IP address to the device Switch is set to monitor.

Switch's log lets you see exactly when and why your computer shut down.

A two-word summary of Switch: "It works." It lets you shut down a Windows computer remotely, with absolutely zero fuss. Sure, you can do sophisticated things with it, but honestly, it's worth the money even if you just use it to manually trigger remote shutdowns. Beautifully executed.

Note: The Download button on the Product Information page will download the software to your system.

Copyright (c) 2013 PCWorld Communications, Inc.

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