How to run BOINC only when the computer is idle?

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By its default settings, BOINC will always only run the science applications when you aren't busy on the keyboard, nor wiggling the mouse.

What I can give you is a checklist, per Windows version. What works under Windows XP, doesn't necessarily work under Windows Vista or Windows 7, since these operating systems do things differently.

BOINC uses a variety of idle tracking options, built into the client (boinc.exe), the Manager (boincmgr.exe) and by use of boinctray.exe, a separate idle tracking program started only from the registry.

Boinctray.exe will not stop running when you exit BOINC.

When you exit the boinctray.exe process from Task Manager, it will not be restarted when you restart BOINC. It will only restart when you manually start it from the BOINC program directory, or when you reboot the computer.

Check-list of preferences:

Your project's computing preferences should be set to:

  • Suspend work while computer is in use? Yes
  • Suspend GPU work while computer is in use? (version 6.7+) Yes
  • 'In use' means mouse/keyboard activity in last X minutes, where X is your choice of minutes. Can be set to mere seconds, by putting the amount to 0.x, e.g. 0.12 = 8 seconds.

Or when you use the Local Advanced Preferences:

  • Uncheck While computer is in use
  • Uncheck Use GPU while computer is in use
  • Set Only after computer has been idle for X minutes to your preferred amount.

Windows 2000/XP

The only thing you need running here is the BOINC client, boinc.exe

Windows Vista/Windows 7

With BOINC installed as a service (protected application execution), you need to have running:

  • either boinctray.exe and boinc.exe;
  • or boinctray.exe, boinc.exe and boincmgr.exe

With BOINC installed as single user/multi-user option, but not a service, you need to have running:

  • either boinc.exe and boinctray.exe
  • or boinctray.exe, boinc.exe and boincmgr.exe

As soon as you stop running boinctray.exe and boincmgr.exe in either of these situations under Windows Vista and Windows 7, your idle detection will stop working.

Original writer Original FAQ Date
Jorden 512 14-Feb-2010