How To: Figure Out What's Keeping Your Surface Tablet Awake

How To: Figure Out What's Keeping Your Surface Tablet Awake

Those that own a Microsoft Surface tablet (original, Surface 2, Surface 3) have probably have experienced issues with the device turning on at inopportune times – and definitely when you don’t want them to. I've heard the stories where owners have left the tablet on a nightstand, the keyboard cover covering up the tablet screen to keep it in idle mode, and would wake in the morning to a dead battery because something kept waking the tablet up. There's additional stories along this vein where travelers would shove the Surface tablet into a carry-on bag for a long trip and the device would stay on, overheat, and soak battery juice.

Microsoft has done a good job fixing this issue with updates, but it still happens sometimes. I've not had the problem myself for a few months, but I know it still happens to others. Sadly, no matter how much effort Microsoft puts into solving existing problems like this, updates can't fix everything. Recently, I was made aware of a potential cause for this occurrence even with all the Surface updates applied. The problem has to do with bad or misbehave drivers – particularly for Bluetooth devices.

To fix the issue, you first have to identify the problem driver and the uninstall it. To self-diagnose and self-medicate, Microsoft includes a handy command-line utility called PowerCfg. You use PowerCfg with a special command-line switch to identify the questionable driver.

To figure out which driver is causing the Surface tablet to be restless, do this…

  1. After the occurrence, open the Windows Command Prompt.

  2. Type in the following command and run it:powercfg /lastwake

The result from running this command will show you the very last device that caused the tablet to wake up. Note that in my example above I don’t have this problem. For those still experiencing this lingering issue, the result will show the offending component.

Once you've identified the device causing sleeplessness, you can then locate it in Windows Device Manager and choose to turn off the Power Management option that allows the device to wake-up the tablet. In recent occurrences, some owners reported that the culprit was a Bluetooth mouse and disallowing it the ability to wake the computer fixed the problem.

Additionally, running the command: powercfg /devicequery wake_from_any, in the same manner will provide you with a list of ALL the devices on the tablet that are configured to be allowed to wake the tablet.

You can sift through the list and disable the wake-up setting for each device listed there – but be careful and only change external devices. Some of the devices are required for Windows to work correctly.

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