Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Normally, a computer in standby should remain there until you turn it back on. I'll look at a few of the possible reasons why it might wake up early.
I have a desktop that, when I put it into the standby mode, it will turn itself on. This can happen in minutes or after many hours. At first, I thought it was the anti-virus software that I use attempting to get an update, so I disconnected the computer from the internet and disabled the anti-virus. It turned itself on overnight. I tried turning off as many running programs as I could; no help. I'm running Windows XP. This has been happening for a while, so I can't say that there was a specific event that occurred prior to this issue.
I want to be clear: I don't have "The Answer" for this.
I do have some suspicions and some directions to look in, however, based on some of my own experiences.
Most often, I blame the BIOS.
More specifically, I blame the BIOS in older machines.
Standby is actually heavily dependant on ACPI – Advanced Configuration and Power Interface – as implemented by your computer's BIOS.
While ACPI has been around for a while (it was first published in 1996), many BIOS implementations were apparently buggy and had assorted problems – particularly related to standby – that took a long time to work themselves out.
It's actually one of the reasons why I've avoided even using standby for many years – I simply found it too unreliable.
So, one of my first recommendations would be to see if there's an updated BIOS available for your particular computer model. It's possible that one of the reasons for an update might well be an ACPI or power-management issue.
Standby is a feature that's typically only enabled on laptop computers as a battery-saving measure.
I'm somewhat surprised to hear that you have it enabled on your desktop computer. While it can save a little power and start-up time, standby doesn't have nearly as much value in the desktop environment.
My concern isn't that it won't work, but rather that the corresponding power management and ACPI Windows drivers installed in your desktop system won't have had the same thoroughness of testing – both prior to release and in the field – simply because it's not something that most people think to use.
So similar to the BIOS, check for updated drivers for your system from your computer manufacturer.
I could also see other components, such as software installed in your desktop system, simply assuming that because they're running on a desktop machine, there's no possibility of being on standby.
Unplugging the network was a good idea. It's sometimes possible that "wake on LAN" kinds of activity could erroneously cause the computer to come out of standby.
Some BIOS have a number of "wake on" settings that might be worth looking into and perhaps disabling. Wake on keyboard or mouse movement, for example, could cause the computer to resume simply because the mouse was moved (or, perhaps, a wireless mouse's signal was interrupted or confused by interference).
I'll throw this to you as well. If you've had experience with unexpected resume form standby and know what caused it, share below in a comment. This is a common question and I think many would benefit.
ACPI Advanced Configuration & Power Interface
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