Review: Power Manager Pro 4

Power Manager is a Preference panel and application that allows you to manage your Mac’s idle time, save energy, and even start and finish processes on your Mac such as log rotation, script executions, etc. Power Manager Pro is the version that allows managers of multiple Macs to propagate schedules and events to all Macs on the network.

Power Manager on its own is a powerful
energy saving application for the Mac, that lives in your System Preferences panel. Power Manager is designed to save energy, but Power Manager 4.x and Power Manager Pro can actually do a lot more than only save energy.

I would describe Power Manager as an app that runs maintenance apps as well as an energy saving software. True, all of Power Manager’s capabilities revolve around shutting down, restarting and putting your Mac asleep, but in the periods before and after you can have Power Manager command your Mac to execute maintenance scripts and apps, such as backups, log rotation, and more.

Power Manager Pro extends these capabilities with a completely customizable event/schedule editor and the ability to propagate events and schedules across networks. For Power Manager Pro to work, every local copy of Power Manager needs to allow Remote Management, which you set up with a click of the mouse.

Local copies of Power Manager are completely Assistant-driven. You can do most of the things the Pro version allows you to do, but it is hard to customize schedules and events beyond what the Assistant allows. Having said that, the Assistant-driven Power Manager will offer more than enough power and flexibility to 99% of the users. It’s only when you want to create complex events like conditionals, that you’ll really need the Pro version.

Even complex events are relatively easy to create with Power Manager Pro, as it’s all done using a familiar form-based user interface. The only thing you should be familiar with when using the Pro version is what each option does with your Mac. So, for example, to backup your Mac using a line command, you should know how to set up the command in the first place. Sounds obvious, but may not be to many people.

Another thing you need to keep in mind when using Power Manager Professional is that it is intended to propagate Power Manager events and schedules to Macs on the network, including your local workstation. To streamline this operation, you can group events together in a schedule, add a license (for when you are pushing not only events and schedules, but also a copy of Power Manager itself) and even build an installer that the user can double-click and have the included items installed or updated (installers seem to be very interesting to quickly update or upgrade existing Power Manager copies on the network) for him automatically.

Experiences

After having used Power manager for several weeks now, I can safely say it’s a very useful and efficient application. It has some intelligence built in. For example, if you want your Mac to power off each day between 12:00 and 14:00, but on some days you will be working during that period, the existing schedule doesn’t have to be disrupted; you can simply tell Power Manager to either adjust or skip this schedule for a day. You can also set an event not to execute when another application is running in the background, for example. All this without writing a single line of code.

Of course Power Manager will warn you up front of an event that’s scheduled, and which could interfere with your daily tasks.

The Professional version is deceivable in its simplicity of use, but it does deliver power to spare. The developer warns against using Power Manager Pro as a sort of programming language. I don’t know if he should be issuing a warning about this, but I do know he’s right in saying it’s easy to use Power Manager Professional for writing almost any kind of script that you would better use a shell script or AppleScript for.

That is because of two things: the excellent documentation and the ease with which you can build events that are composed of triggers, conditions, and actions.

So, what can you use Power Manager Pro for that you can’t use a free Mac OS X tool like Automator for? An example might be: powering on the Mac, followed by starting a command line based backup session or a Time Machine update, followed by a power off.

You could also write a script that will clean your Mac’s logs at night, with Power Manager starting to run that script when you leave office, and to power off when the operation has finished, including a couple of checks to see if the operation has ended as it should (e.g. run a script to see if the execution did not generate errors).

Doing so, including forcing your Mac to deep sleep when it’s possible, will have a beneficial effect on your power bill and by extension the entire planet. One word, though: to power on your Mac automatically when you want it, the Mac should be left plugged into the power outlet at all times.

In my setup, I use an APC UPS that sits between my Mac and the wall. At night I turn the UPS off, which effectively cuts all power to all equipment. Apparently this also resets some circuits Power Manager depends on to ‘remember’ the power on command. The result: a Mac that doesn’t power on when it should according to your schedule.

Power Manager costs 39.95 Euros. Power Manager Pro costs 299.95 Euros, including one license. To manage multiple Macs, you’ll additionally need a license for each connected Mac. There’s also Power Manager Remote, a free iOS app that allows you to control your Mac’s Power Manager system from wherever you are. Dragon Systems Software does not recommend using Professional for a customer with five Macs to manage them, as Power Manager can also be managed remotely via the command line or directly on each Mac. A Pro version is better suited for customers with more sophisticated environments, the company says.

Customers can buy packs of licenses or individual licenses from their store; they offer discounts for larger orders and provide academic pricing.

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