The newest SSD disks have made the Windows startup a matter of a few seconds, from the PC being completely turned off to our full desktop. However, if we wish for an even quicker startup, or want to keep all the programs we were working on open, the sleep and hibernate functionalities sure beat a full power off. In this guide, we will see how sleep and hibernate works on Windows, and which is best for our needs.
Table of Contents
- Hybrid sleep
- Reasons why hibernate and sleep may not work
- Enable hybrid sleep mode on a laptop
- Add hibernate on the power options menu
- How to disable hibernation
- How to wake up a computer
- Prevent your computer from sleeping
- What is the best power setting option
- What power option do you prefer?
Whenever we set our computer in sleep mode, we command it to take the equivalent of a quick nap.
What happens when the system "sleeps"
Before the computer "goes to sleep," it stores all the active tasks, disables every process, and sets the subsystems to low operating levels. In a modern motherboard, even the fans stop working.
While our computer appears to be turned off, the reality is it is still on. An LED light can often be seen briefly blinking every so often. If we move the mouse, press a key, or the power button, our system will be right back up within seconds.
Not only do we not have to wait for Windows to boot up, but all of our previously opened documents and programs are immediately available.
Our PC is essentially still on but uses the minimum amount of energy required.
Thus, if we unplug it, a power outage happens, or our laptop runs out of power, next time we boot up Windows, we will have to start off fresh again.
Even Windows might warn us that it didn’t boot up correctly, as would have happened in the case of a power outage during regular use.
Hibernate has some similarities to sleep mode. During hibernate, our computer shuts down completely, but when we turn it back on, it immediately restores all the previously open tasks.
In other words, it is similar to a hibernating bear. It's in a rather deep sleep and needs more time to wake up than it would need after taking a nap.
What happens when our system hibernates
Before our system goes into hibernate mode, it stores all the open documents and tasks on our hard drive and disables all the processes. Next, it completely shuts down, without using any energy - other than the expected power leakage of the PSU.
As far as hibernate mode is concerned, our computer gets back up and running slower than it recovers from sleep mode, but a lot faster compared to when we shut it down.
The time it takes isn't set in stone. If we have an SSD, the difference to the sleep mode is essentially unnoticeable.
The critical difference between a shutdown and hibernation
Shutting down our computer is similar to hibernate mode. At the same time, however, there's a key factor that renders them vastly different to each other.
Firstly, we need to save and close our programs and then shut down our system. Our computer isn't going to save anything for us.
If there are any active tasks, our computer will inform us of the fact, and then shut down. If we confirm the shutdown, all of our unsaved tasks and documents will disappear.
Does hibernate affect an SSD?
Every time our computer hibernates, data equal to 75% of our total RAM is stored on our disk.
For example, if our system has 32GB of RAM, then every time we set our computer to hibernate, 24GB of data is stored.
The best way to measure the lifespan of an SSD is to calculate the amount of data we can write on it. Chris Geiser, who is the "Senior Product Manager" on "Memory and Storage" department for Samsung once stated:
"If I write 10GB per day on a 120GB SSD, then it will last 10 years."
According to his statement, if our system has 32GB of RAM, setting our computer to hibernate mode once per day will be enough to kill a 120GB SSD within four years. That is, without even writing any additional data on the disk.
Of course, this is an extreme scenario. For starters, most systems have 8GB or 16GB of RAM at most. 32GB is a bit of a stretch.
Nonetheless, it doesn't take a genius to see that using hibernate mode puts our SSD under unnecessary stress. Disabling this function is in our drive's best interest, and we will go through how to do just that shortly.
Besides, a system with an SSD disk doesn't take that much time to boot up anyway, which means hibernate mode won't give us much of an edge.
If hibernate and sleep had a kid, then that would be hybrid sleep. In this mode, our computer "sleeps," but if needed, it can "hibernate."
This mode was designed for desktop PCs. On laptops, on the other hand, it's disabled by default.
How does hybrid sleep work
In reality, our computer acts like it sleeps and then hibernates.
Firstly, it stores everything in our RAM, then it stores the RAM's data on the hard drive, and finally, it hibernates.
In the case of a power outage, we won't lose anything, since all of our data is stored on both our RAM and our hard drive.
With hybrid sleep on, Windows always chooses this power state instead of just sleep.
In any case, with hybrid sleep, our system restores to full power relatively fast.
Why hybrid sleep isn't enabled on laptops
Laptop manufacturers have disabled hybrid sleep since laptops are programmed to store our work before they run out of power.
If we put our laptop to "sleep" while it's not charging, it will start hibernating when low on battery.
Reasons why hibernate and sleep may not work
There is a chance our computer can't be set to either sleep or hibernate, thereby nor on hybrid sleep.
There are a plethora of reasons why that might be the case:
- Our graphics card doesn't support sleep mode. We can get more info on the card's instruction manual. Also, we might have to update its drivers.
- The administrator has disabled these settings. If we are not the administrator, then we should get in contact with him.
- We can disable various power options via BIOS. Checking those settings while troubleshooting is recommended.
- On Windows 7, hybrid sleep is on by default. That's one of the reasons why we don't see the other two options. We will explain how to change that later on.
- Hibernate on Windows 8 and 10 is invisible by default. We will go through how to enable it shortly.
Enable hybrid sleep mode on a laptop
Any changes we might want to make as far as power options are concerned will have to be done through the options menu.
To open “Run,” we press the Windows button + R, and on the window that pops up, type “powercfg.cpl.”
In the power options window, we click “Change plan settings” to change our current plan. Then, click on "Change advanced power settings."
In this window, we will find all the available power options.
To enable hybrid sleep, locate "Sleep" and click on "+."
On the entry "Allow hybrid sleep," we click on "+" and select "on," in the case our computer runs on battery.
We modify the settings according to our preferences, and press "Apply" or "OK" to save the changes.
The power options menu is the one that shows up when we press the shut-down button.
As we see in the image above, the hibernate option isn't there, mostly because Microsoft decided it's not necessary. If we want to add it by ourselves, we need to follow the steps described below.
Firstly, we open the power settings. On the column to the left, click on "Choose what the power button does."
We are now in the "System settings." Click on "Change settings that are currently unavailable."
All we have to do now is enable "Hibernate," choose "Save changes," and the option will be available on the menu.
How to disable hibernation
To disable hibernate mode, we will need to run go open our command prompt as an administrator.
When the window opens, type “powercfg.exe /hibernate off” and press ENTER. Hibernate is now disabled. In the case that we have a change of heart, we can run the command “powercfg.exe /hibernate on” later on.
How to wake up a computer
A system in sleep mode can "wake up" by pressing any button on the keyboard or by moving the mouse.
In laptops, pressing the power button or opening the "clamshell" also works.
The ways a computer can "wake up" depend on the manufacturer and the power settings. Trial and error usually lead to discovery.
When our computer is hibernating, the only way to wake it up is by pressing the power button.
Prevent your computer from sleeping
Apart from manually setting our PC to power off, Windows also has a setting to do this after a few minutes of inactivity automatically.
If we don't want our computer to automatically "sleep," changing this setting is child's play.
To disable automatic sleep on Windows 10, we go to "Settings," and then to "System."
We choose "Power & sleep," and set it to "Never" sleep, whether our computer is running on power or battery.
What is the best power setting option
The fact that power settings are plentiful is apparent by now, and choosing the ideal one for you can be difficult. Below, we will give you a general idea of what cases each one is most appropriate for.
Using sleep mode
Sleep mode is the best option if we are going to step away from our PC for a short while, but don't want to waste energy or battery.
This way, our computer recovers within few seconds, and we are free to continue our work from where we left off.
However, it's only a viable solution for relatively short breaks. If we have to be away for a few hours or more, it might be worth considering a different option.
Our PC doesn't consume any power during hibernate mode at all. Also, it recovers way faster than it otherwise would with a regular shut down. The cherry on top? We get to keep everything as it was when we left.
Hibernate is truly useful if we want to leave our computer on standby while we take a relatively long break.
For example, at night before we go to bed. Our computer can boot up in no time during the morning while allowing us to keep our windows and tasks as they were.
However, it's not suggested if we often step away from our PC during the day. In this case, we should use sleep mode. The waiting time it saves us adds up, and our drive won't have to suffer as much.
Computer shut down
The main reason to shut down our PC is that we won't be using it for long periods of time.
Shutting our computer down entirely also has a few positive effects on our system's well-being. It refreshes windows, our RAM, and downloads any updates that have been on hold. Essentially, things start off fresh.
What power option do you prefer?
What do you think is the best power option for your computer? Do you prefer it taking a quick nap, or hibernating?
Power consumption isn't the only parameter when making a decision, and boot up time is quite an important factor as well.
If you have anything to add or want to let us know what your favorite power option is, feel free to leave a comment.
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