How to Fix: 'Your Power Plan Information isn't Available' when accessing Power Options

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How to Fix: 'Your Power Plan Information isn't Available'

Infopackets Reader Cindy G. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am running Windows 7 Pro and I'm trying to defrag my hard drive. I'm using Piriform Defraggler and it says that it will take over a day to complete. That's fine - however, every time I shut my monitor off and leave the computer to do its work, it keeps going to sleep. I have gone to the Power Options in the Windows Control Panel, but all I see is a message stating that 'Your power plan information isn't available'. I am completely perplexed by this as I have a Windows 7 laptop and my Power Options allows me to edit my plan settings. I really need to get into the Power Options on my PC so I can prevent it from going to sleep and/or hibernate. Can you help? "

My response:

Admittedly I have never experienced this issue before, so I asked Cindy if she would like me to connect to her computer using my remote desktop support service, so that I could review and discuss the issue first-hand. Cindy agreed to my courtesy 15-minute free consultation.

My first thought was that Cindy's user account was corrupt, so I activated the hidden Administrator account on her computer, then logged off of her account. I then signed on as the Administrator user (with no password), which then generated a new desktop environment. The idea here is this: usually - but not always - if a Windows feature doesn't work on one user account but works on another account, chances are that you are dealing with a corrupt account. However, this was not the case for Cindy. No matter what I tried, the error message 'Your power plan information isn't available' prevailed even under the Administrator's account.

The second thing I tried was to configure Cindy's PC using minimal services (also known as a clean boot). The reasoning here is that one of her installed programs may be interfering with the Power Options. By disabling all non-Microsoft services, this may fix the issue. Unfortunately this did not work either.

I'll explain how to diagnose both of these options a little further down - but for now, I'll try and get to the meat-and-potatoes of the problem.

How to Fix: 'Your Power Plan Information isn't Available' when accessing Power Options

I did a bit of research on the issue and found varying answers online, some of which did not apply to Cindy's circumstance because I was dealing with an older computer. I then decided to try a few 'fixes' of my own. Here is what I found:

  1. Using an administrative command prompt, it may be possible to reset the Power Options feature to default settings. By resetting to default, it may clear whatever issue is preventing Cindy from using the Power Options, so that she can finally disable the sleep mode. To do so: click Start, then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator". Next, highlight the text below with your mouse:

    PowerCfg -RestoreDefaultSchemes
    echo this is a dummy line

    Right click over top of the highlighted text above, then select Copy from the dialogue menu. Now, go to the administrative command prompt you just opened and right click in middle of the black window. The text you copied should now be output onto the screen.

    Important: at this point you should bookmark this page so you can come back to it, because the 'powercfg' command requires that you reboot the system, then sign back in. After that, try the Power Options to see if you can access its settings. Do just that, then come back to this page if your Power Options still isn't working, and proceed to Step #2 below.
     
  2. The next thing I tried was to disable and re-enable ACPI (Advanced Configuration and Power Interface) in the Windows Device Manager. This was the one that worked for Cindy.

    To do so: click Start, then right click "My Computer" or "This PC", and select Properties. The "System" window will appear; click the "Device Manager" link near the top left of the Window. The "Device Manager" window should then appear; scroll down to the "System Devices" option in the list, and click the arrow to expand its sub-list. What you are looking for now is anything to do with ACPI in the list - most notably in order of preference: "ACPI Lid", "ACPI Power Button", "ACPI Sleep Button", ... anything else ACPI I didn't mention here, then: "ACPI Fixed Feature Button", and "Microsoft ACPI Compliant System". Note: depending on your computer's hardware, you may not see every one of those items.

    Take note of the order of preference I have set above, then compare it to your own list of ACPI features. Then, using my order of preference - right click each feature and select "uninstall". If you have more ACPI features other than what I have mentioned above, go ahead and uninstall those, too. If Windows prompts you to reboot, do not reboot just yet until you've made it to the very last item in the list. If possible, try and save "ACPI Fixed Feature Button", and "Microsoft ACPI Compliant System" last, as those are big ticket items.

    Note: In Cindy's case, she did not have the "ACPI Fixed Feature Button" but instead had the "Microsoft ACPI Compliant System" feature. When I uninstalled the "Microsoft ACPI Compliant System" (which happened to be the last item in the list), this started a multiple driver uninstall domino effect, including the removal of her video card driver - which is why I have listed things in order of preference. At this point, her screen resolution changed to 800x600 resolution (which looks very huge on today's hardware); shortly after the system asked to restart. Upon reboot, the system took a lot longer to reach the desktop because at this point, because Windows had to reinstall many drivers to reconfigure the system. Eventually we made it back to the desktop, and when I tried the "Power Options" feature, it came back.

Problem solved!

Enabling the Admin Account and Minimizing Services

If you're interested in trying the first two things I mentioned at the start of the article, please continue reading.

  1. To enable the hidden Administrator account to test whether or not your user account is corrupt, do the following: click Start, then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for CMD.EXE or Command Prompt to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator". Next, highlight the text below with your mouse:

    net user administrator /active:yes
    echo this is a dummy line

    Right click over top of the highlighted text above, then select Copy from the dialogue menu. Now, go to the administrative command prompt you opened and right click in middle of the black window. The text you copied should now be output onto the screen.

    Now it's time to log off your account and sign in as the Administrator. To do so: click Start -> Shutdown, then click "Log off". When you get back to the Windows login screen, choose the Administrator user - there should be no password to enter and it may take a while before you get to the desktop. When you do reach the desktop, click Start, then type in "Power Options"; wait for Power Options to appear in the list, then click it and see if you can adjust your settings. If that doesn't work, try Step #2 below.

    Important: on the other hand - if you do see the Power Option settings with the Administrator user, then it means that your original user account is most likely corrupt; in that case you will need to create a new user account and transfer over all your data to the new account. Unfortunately the instructions for that are well beyond the scope of this article - you are however welcome to contact me for 1-on-1 support via my remote desktop service and I can do it for you as this is a fairly complex job.
     
  2. To minimize your Windows Services in hopes of 'dislodging' a potential program that is preventing your Power Options from working properly, do the following: click Start, then type in "msconfig" (no quotes); wait for MSConfig to show up in the list and click it.

    Next, go to the Service tab in the MSConfig window, and click the box that says "Hide all Microsoft Services"; following that, click the button that says "Disable all", then click Apply and OK. Next, go to the Startup tab, and click the button to "Disable all" again - but you can enable some critical services if you wish, such as antivirus for example. Note: if you're using Windows 8 or 10 then you will need to click the link pointing to Task Manager, then right click each item in the list and select "Disable".

    You can re-enable the services if you wish by following the steps in reverse.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of the above information is over your head, or if your Power Options setting still isn't working, I can help using my remote desktop service. Simply contact me briefly describing your problem, and I'll set back to you as soon as possible.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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