Sky Auto Standby and How to Switch It Off

Posted on August 27 2007 in grumble, technology, teevee

Sky, in their infinite wisdom, have rolled out an update to Sky+ boxes to put them into standby mode automatically if they aren’t “used” (Sky’s term is “no activity”, i.e. pushing a button on the remote) for two hours between 11pm and 4am. This is all in the name of saving electricity, lowering carbon footprints, yadda yadda yadda, and it’s a laudable goal. It’s a shame that the mechanism is so irritating, and it seems some people are having problems with it too.

So here I am, it’s just after half two in the morning, and I’m watching Transporter 2 (don’t ask). Up pops this huge alert box on the screen: “Your Sky+ box is about to go into standby. Press Back Up to cancel” Holy crap! What happened to my movie? So I press Back Up. If I wasn’t really concentrating on the picture — perhaps listening to music on MTV2 or Music Choice, or one of the now hundreds of radio channels — I wouldn’t have noticed and off it would have went. Note that this would then clear out the trick play cache on the hard disk, although it wouldn’t affect programmes being recorded either manually or from the planner.

So, off to Google I go, and I find a procedure on Sky’s website on how to disable auto standby on Sky+ and Sky HD boxes. And here it is:

  • Press the Services button on your Sky remote.
  • Press 5 for Sky+ Setup.
  • Push up twice to highlight Auto Standby.
  • Push left (or right) once to change ON to OFF.
  • Push down once to highlight Save New Settings and press Select.
  • Push the Sky button to return to whatever you were watching.

I love the idea, but I watch a lot of television late at night. It’s bad enough I get constantly prompted to enter my PIN when wanting to watch a movie that’s > PG rated before 8pm — Sky, for the love of $deity, please fix this ASAP — but now I’m being hassled to switch my box off when I’m trying to watch the very television I’m paying money to subscribe to. Jeez. I switch my box into standby when I’m not watching TV or leaving the room for a while anyway. Bah.

Presumably this is to ensure that the hard disk inside the Sky+ and Sky HD boxes is spun down unless it’s recording, so hence standard digiboxes haven’t had this software change rolled out yet and aren’t affected.

36 comments

  • http://www.geralddavies.com bgeek

    can't you disable the pin/prompt thing in much the same way? i thought you could, but its been ages since i've tampered with my box. i remember being *very* annoyed at recording things and then having to use a pin in the daytime to play them back, which i'm sure i did disable. perhaps that's what i'm thinking of.

    i'm really glad you highlighted the update though – that's going straight off, carbon footprint or not. i bet thats not their true reason anyway :)

  • bloggie

    Isn’t the pin prompt from services>parental control>other restrictions>pre-watershed playback?

  • Mark

    By switching boxes to Stand-by, Sky could save enough energy to supply the city of Birmingham with electricity for an entire year. I know it doesn’t suit everybody, but give Sky a break.

    Mark

    • Micky B

      If everybody used their handbrake at busy junctions and traffic lights in their cars, instead of burning over 50 Watts of fossil fuelled energy using brake lights then we could save millions of tons of CO2 far more than Sky Box standby power usage !

  • http://neuro.me.uk/ neuro

    Mark, but as usual, Sky just roll things out without really telling anyone what’s going on until it’s been done.

    Bloggie, I have that off. IIRC if that’s on, and you’ve recorded say an 18-rated movie one night, and you replay it during the day (or your kids try to), you’ll be challenged for the PIN. I don’t have kids, so I have it switched off; I just wish there was a way to switch this off when watching Sky Movies live.

  • Steve

    They haven’t just rolled it out! Their magazine has been reporting it for sometime now, at least 4 months. It’s up to you whether you choose to read it or not (I believe it’s a rubbish magazine, but I always have a quick flick through as they’ve done things like announce price increases in the past, so always pays to have a scan).

  • http://neuro.me.uk/ neuro

    Sky don’t just announce things in the Sky Magazine (or “Skymag” as it’s called now, and it’s aaaaawful), they send letters to customers and put promos between programmes. I may not read the magazine that closely, but I always read letters that Sky send me, including the insert that comes with the monthly mags (I get four: Sky Magazine, Movies, Sport and Kids). They didn’t shout to the high heavens about it in the way they did when all the viewing cards were being upgraded, or when PIN protection started on Sky Movies, that’s what I’m irked about.

  • Lee

    I agree with Mark, give sky a break. Its a bloody good idea. If you want to continue watching in the early hours of the morning you only need hit back up. We need to save energy and a massive well done goes to sky for having the balls to do something about it.

    • skyfreak

      No it's not a blooddy good idea. It sucks. I pay for the electricity |I spend, for my TV licence and I don't need to be disrupted in watching what I pay for.

    • John

      Wait…? Since when did sky start pay for the electricity ?

  • http://neuro.me.uk/ neuro

    An analogy: someone rings your doorbell at 4am because you’ve left a light on, regardless of whether or not you’re asleep or wanted the light on for a specific reason. I think Auto Standby is a nice idea, but not one I agree with given my usage habits, therefore I documented the process for others with similar opinions to follow.

    However, for a company that is currently getting £55 off me a month, I’m think entitled to a wee moan if they do something that I don’t like :)

  • SpiceGirl

    Neuro: I actually agree to wake up someone at 4am because they left a light on. Since when has wasting energy become an acceptable behaviour?

    If you are so annoyed by having to push every two hours a button on your remote, then I am second guessing what you are doing with your two hands and why actually you are watching telly at this time.

  • Pingback: Wird Digital-TV gesetzlich ausgebremst? - digi-tv.ch - Das Forum

  • http://neuro.me.uk/ neuro

    Ha ha, Spicegirl, very clever :) There are plenty of good movies and repeats on at 4am in the morning, I promise! However, if someone rang my doorbell to tell me I’d left a light on, I’d have a go at them, as they have no idea why it’s on. Maybe I left it on and fell asleep, maybe I work nights from home and need it to see what I’m doing, maybe I’ve woken up in the middle of the night to go to the loo, or I’ve heard a noise in the house. There are a myriad of reasons why a light would be on in a house at 4am :)

    Regarding the Sky box issue, I virtually always switch off my Sky box (and by proxy my TV since I have SCART control switched on) when I go to bed; if my TV is still on at 4am, it’s because I want to watch something, not because I’m unconscious. I’m not railing against the feature, or the goal, just the way it suddenly appeared and was contrary to my viewing behaviour.

  • Rich

    Why when in standby, with the anytime TV feature disabled is the HDD spinning? I wonder how much energy this is really saving.

  • ForHeavenSake!

    I think we have lost track of where personal boundries stop. I do a lot of studying at night and so have a number of lights on in the house at the wee hours of the morning. If anyone came knocking on my door to discuss my lighting habits, I would give them a severe talking to.

    On the standby note, I am in Australia for 3 weeks and left my Sky+ box on my favorite channel so i could watch it via orb over the internet, only to find out that the thing is off. I hadn’t realised that it did this because i hardly check it out at night, but there is no one at home to turn it on and so cant even access it.

    not happy at all

  • http://aol jeff

    thanks for the info. i can rest easier now that i know i can help light up birmingham for free this year.

    however, if sky really want to help the planet maybe they should stop publishing and mailing their mag which i and, i suspect, most other subscribers just through in the bin. why not just email it instead?

  • Don

    Thanx cuzzi's

  • Pete

    Thanks for this post, this has been happening to us for weeks and we were baffled by it. We were away a few weeks ago and set the dvd recorder to record the US election night coverage. When we got home, we had half a programme. Very irritating! I would hate to be bidding on something on ebay at 2am and someone decided to turn off my PC by remote control. Can't we be trusted to turn off our own appliances? Next up – the toaster that unplugs itself after 9am? The kettle that only works during the adverts? Give me a break!

  • Griff.

    I often record through the night, as, in my opinion, there ain't nuthin worth watching during the evening hours. I therefore often play my recording from the previous night. Very annoying when there is nothing after 4 hours or so.
    Sky, get rid of this feature.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/neuro neuro

    To be fair, they don't have to get rid of it, just turn it off as described :)

  • LaBoheme

    I've been watching the tennis since 8.30 and my box just did the stand-by thing (it's now 12.30 where I am) – that makes no sense if it's only meant to happen in the wee small hours!

  • Islander

    You can set the auto standby to off and then they send you a download to update it and it all happens again. You have to check it every day! I have lost several recordings that way.

    It is the first time I have encountered a company that deliberately sabotages their service. If they want to reduce power consumption then they should switch off their satellites and go out of business.

  • I Tape Everything

    Thanks a million. I've been looking for an answer to this for a while. Now all I need to know is how to switch off the bl**dy red circle that appears over shows making me have to hit back up after ever ad break!

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/neuro neuro

      Services > System Setup > Picture Settings > On-Screen Icon Timeout, set to ON. Sorted :)

  • Andrew

    I have a standard SKY box. I have turned off the auto standy feature but it still manages to switch itself off usually at about 2 am when a program that i watch weekly actually comes on. Setting up a dvd recorder and trying to watch the program Ive recorded, only to find that the damn sky box has turned itself off to save energy is ridiculous. Our subcription is about 45 pounds monthly and I cant even watch the programs that I want to because I dont want to stay up until 2 am to press back up on the remote.

    Ive come here to find out if anyone else has tried to turn off the autostandy feature with no luck?

    • karen

      I have the same problem. I record the boxing in the early hours and the box goes into standby. I have turned off the auto standby function but it still keep happening and as a result I miss the boxing which I have recorded.

  • karen

    Yes Andrew i am having the same problem. i have switched off the auto standby function and the box still turns off. Really annoying as I record the boxing thats on in the early hours and because of this feature my recordings dont work. Does anyone now how to stop this?

  • Peter

    Just read all your comments and agree fully, i had set my sky+ box to record two programmes, both failed and i had no idea why the failed until i read about the updates. Sunday 29/3/09 at 6.20pm and my box has just gone into standby for the second time today. THIS IS A REAL PAIN. I have now turned off the Auto standby mode. And as for this PIN number, i also live alone and its also areal pain. Sky please review your procedures.

  • Aaron

    All,

    I mesured my sky box on standby versus on.. guess what…. it is about 40 watts on or in standby.

    It is a gimick to make everyone think wow, sky are so green.

    Maybe the latest boxes are OK but my old Grundig box saves no energy in standby

  • DJJ

    Thank you so much! This was a God-send.. Thank you!!

  • http://www.homecuring.co.uk Spuddy

    I've been having trouble with finding the box in standby after setting my PVR to record programmes when I'm away for the last few months.
    I've had my box apart, examining the PSU for signs of capacitor leakage thinking it was faulty and was just about to spend out on a new box!! How "Carbon Neutral" would that have been?
    Thank goodness I had the idea of doing a Google search first and found this site.
    Thank you!

  • Aaa

    People really do find anything to moan about these days, Your all moaning about pressing backup once if your watching tv at like 3am to save some power… Wow..

    • http://intensedebate.com/people/neuro neuro

      Problem is, aaa, when you're immersed in watching a late night movie, and a huge banner appears in the middle of the screen (and I have a reasonably big screen), it's jarring, and completely throws you out of any mood the movie was trying to set. Or maybe you're watching some live sport from somewhere else in the world, and at a crucial moment, "YOUR SKY+ BOX IS ABOUT TO GO INTO STANDBY!" OK, if you have the buffer enabled, you can rewind, but my point is that you shouldn't have to do that!

  • drh

    I realise this thread is quite old now and many of the earlier poster probably won't see it again as is the case with many blog comments but here goes anyway.

    I am with the people who think Sky play like god implementing these things without any consideration for the users.
    I had lots of issues with this because Sky originally implemented it without telling anyone. Someone mentioned it was in the Magazine, well I hate to tell you this but I don't think Sky send magazine out to the majority of subscribers unless your on a top tier package, Sorry to rain on your parade but I have never had a Sky magazine in over 10 years!!

    If they insist on changing the way the box behaves without telling anyone, they should implement the feature OFF by default and not ON so the previous user experience is not deteriorated but they still get their marketing ploy implemented. Its not rocket science.

    And finally to those who tried to stick up for Sky making another crap decision who are still not with me, after-all that, the tests prove that this was just a "Green" propaganda stunt by Sky as the box uses no less power anyway.

  • tim edge

    ok here's what i think, if i want a multi billion pound corporation who must have a massive carbon footprint to do what they do, to tell me, i cant have my sky box ON when i WANT it on having taken nearly 75 quid a month off me for years as i have the complete package, sky hd, all t.v. packages, unlimited internet, and telephone, then they are very much mistaken, i have my sky plumbed into every room and often go to bed to watch a film, only to have it switched off half way through, so i have to get up, run down stairs and put it back on, and one more thing, i also pay my electricity bill so its my choice. me switching off my sky box is not really going to effect the world is it, and if it is, am i bothered ?, we're not going to run out of electricity in my life time ill be long gone by then and be worm food. I'll let my off spring deal with solving the worlds energy problem, i had enough on my plate growing up as a kid to worry about , i was born with GINGER HAIR and i had to deal with that so SUCK IT UP KIDS..!!!…ps… thanks for the post ive disabled it.., MERRY GINGER CHRISTMAS EVERYONE..X