• ARTICLES
SEARCH

How-To Geek

What’s the Difference Between Sleep and Hibernate in Windows?

Windows provides several options for conserving power when you are not using your PC. These options include Sleep, Hibernate, and Hybrid Sleep and are very useful if you are using a laptop. Here’s the difference between them.

Note: this article is meant primarily for beginners. Obviously ubergeeky readers will already know the difference between power modes.

Sleep Mode

Sleep mode is a power-saving state that is similar to pausing a DVD movie. All actions on the computer are stopped and any open documents and applications are put in memory. You can quickly resume normal, full-power operation within a few seconds. Sleep mode is basically the same thing as “Standby” mode.

The Sleep mode is useful if you want to stop working for a short period of time. The computer doesn’t use much power in Sleep mode.

Hibernate

The Hibernate mode saves your open documents and running applications to your hard disk and shuts down the computer, which means once your computer is in Hibernate mode, it uses zero power. Once the computer is powered back on, it will resume everything where you left off.

Use this mode if you won’t be using the laptop for an extended period of time, and you don’t want to close your documents.

Hybrid Sleep

The Hybrid Sleep mode is a combination of the Sleep and Hibernate modes meant for desktop computers. It puts any open documents and applications both in memory and on your hard disk, and then puts your computer into a low-power state, allowing you to quickly wake the computer and resume your work. The Hybrid Sleep mode is enabled by default in Windows on desktop computers and disabled on laptops. When enabled, it automatically puts your computer into Hybrid Sleep mode when you put it into Sleep mode.

Hybrid Sleep mode is useful for desktop computers in case of a power outage. When power resumes, Windows can restore your work from the hard disk, if the memory is not accessible.

Where are the options?

The Sleep and Hibernate options are accessed using the arrow button next to the Shut down button on the Start menu.

01_sleep_and_hibernate_options

If you don’t see the Sleep option or the Hibernate option, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • Your video card may not support the Sleep mode. Refer to the documentation for your video card. You can also update the driver.
  • If you don’t have administrative access on the computer, you may have to refer to the administrator to change the option.
  • The power-saving modes in Windows are turned on and off in your computer’s BIOS (basic input/output system). To turn on these modes, restart your computer and then enter the BIOS setup program. The key for accessing BIOS differs for each computer manufacturer. Instructions for accessing BIOS generally displays on the screen as the computer boots. For more information, see your computer’s documentation or check the website for your computer’s manufacturer.
  • If you don’t see the Hibernate option, the Hybrid Sleep option is mostly likely enabled. We will explain how to enable and disable the Hybrid Sleep mode later in this article.

How Do I Wake Up the Computer?

Most computers can be woken up by pressing the power button. However, every computer is different. You might need to press a key on the keyboard, click a mouse button, or lift the laptop’s lid. Refer to your computer’s documentation or the manufacturer’s website for information about waking it from a power-saving state.

How to Enable and Disable the Hybrid Sleep Option

To enable or disable the Hybrid Sleep Option, click Control Panel on the Start menu.

02_clicking_control_panel

Click Power Options in the Control Panel window.

NOTE: If Power Options is not available, select Large icons or Small icons from the View by drop-down list in the upper, right corner of the Control Panel window. In the Category view, you can also click System and Security and then click the Power Options heading.

03_clicking_power_options

On the Select a power plan screen, click the Change plan settings link next to the currently selected power plan.

NOTE: You can change the Hybrid Sleep option for either one or both of the power plans. The steps are the same for both.

04_clicking_change_plan_settings

On the Change settings for the plan screen, click the Change advanced power settings link.

05_09_change_settings_for_plan_screen

On the Power Options dialog box, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link.

06_clicking_changing_settings_that_are_currently_unavailable

Click the plus sign next to Sleep to expand the options, if they are not already expanded. Click the plus sign next to Allow hybrid sleep. Select Off from one or both of the drop-down lists under the Allow hybrid sleep heading.

NOTE: You can also double-click on a heading to expand it.

07_turning_off_hybrid_sleep

By default, Windows requires a password to access the computer when you wake it up from a power-saving state. You can use the Power Options dialog box to turn this off. The first heading in the list box is the name of the power plan chosen in the drop-down list above the list box. Click the plus sign to expand the heading and select Off from one or both of the drop-down lists under the heading.

Click OK to save your changes and then click the X button in the upper, right corner of the Control Panel window to close it.

How to Prevent Your Computer from Automatically Sleeping or Hibernating

You can prevent Windows from asking for a password when it wakes up from a power-saving mode. However, if you are using a battery-powered laptop, be careful when turning off the sleep or hibernate mode. If the battery dies when you’re in the middle of working on the computer, you can lose data.

You can also change the amount of time before your computer goes into sleep or hibernate mode. Here’s how to do this.

Access Power Options in the Control Panel, and click the Change plan settings link next to the currently selected power plan on the Select a power plan screen, as we described earlier in this article.

On the Change settings for the plan screen, click the Change advanced power settings link.

05_09_change_settings_for_plan_screen

Double-click on the Sleep heading, and then double-click on Sleep after. If you’re using a laptop, click On battery or Plugged in to activate the edit box. Click the down arrow until Never is selected.

NOTE: If you’re using a desktop computer, click Setting, and click the down arrow until Never is selected.

You can do the same for the Hibernate after heading.

10_changing_sleep_after

If you want the display to stay on, double-click on the Display heading and then double-click Turn off display after and change the On battery and Plugged in values as desired.

Click OK to save your changes, and close the Control Panel window, as described earlier.

11_turn_off_display_after

Now you can be smart in your choice of power-saving modes. If you’re using a laptop computer, the best option is most likely Hibernate, because it saves the most power compared to Sleep and Hybrid Sleep.

Lori Kaufman is a freelance technical writer who likes to write geeky how-to articles to help make people's lives easier through the use of technology. She loves watching and reading mysteries and is an avid Doctor Who fan.

  • Published 03/28/12

Enter Your Email Here to Get Access for Free:

Go check your email!