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You’re an Xbox Live Gold subscriber. You’ve seen Forza 5 is available for free as part of the Games for Gold benefits package this month, but your enthusiasm plummets faster than Trump’s approval ratings when you see there’s 40GB to download and the game’s dribbling down the pipe. Do you have to leave your Xbox on for ten hours until the download completes or can you switch the console ‘off’ and let it complete in the background?
The answer is: it depends which power-saving mode you use on your Xbox One.
If your Xbox One is left in the instant-on power mode, you can indeed press the power button on the front of the console and the download will continue in the background, provided you don’t unplug the console from the mains, of course. The game will even install once the download is completed, which means it’s normally possible to start a download before you go to bed and have it waiting ready to play by the time you’ve crawled out of your pit the next morning/lunchtime/afternoon* (delete as applicable).
If you’re running in energy-saving mode – where the console boots from cold every time you press the power switch, taking 30 seconds or so to load the home screen – then no, the game won’t download in the background with the console switched off.
How to download Xbox One games with the console switched off
If you want to put your Xbox One in instant-on mode, go to Settings > All Settings and choose the instant-on mode from the Power mode & startup menu. Note that this mode draws around 15 Watts of power around the clock, so it is going to come at modest cost when the electricity bill arrives at the end of the month.
Note too that with instant-on mode enabled, you will often find the console is toastier than a microwaved lasagne, even when the console is ostensibly ‘off’.