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Understanding Your PC And Devices, Sleep VS. Hibernate [groovyTips]

Groovy Computer Help, Tips, and NewsFrequently I’ve been receiving a lot of questions from groovy readers asking:

“What is the difference between Sleep and Hibernate mode and which is better?”

Previously we covered the hiberfil.sys file which explained some, but in this article is going to tackle it to a further degree.

What is Sleep?

Sleep (aka Suspend on Linux) is a low power use state where the computer enters a “suspended animation.”  Putting your computer into sleep mode will allow you to pause all of your current work and seemingly shutdown for fast recovery later.  Because the computer never completely powers off, the battery or just electricity in general is still used while in Sleep mode.  Some system that support a hybrid sleep will save current data to the hard disk in a temporary file, while most others will store it in the computers physical RAM memory.  Typically sleep will resume your computer in matter of seconds as opposed to the minutes it can take to fully boot from a cold shutdown.  Most computers in sleep mode use 5W-10W of energy per hour – that’s about half as much as most “Energy Efficient” light bulbs.

What is Hibernate?

Hibernate is another low power use state that allows you to shutdown without losing work.  Hibernate functions by saving all of your currently opened data to your hard disk and then shutting off all components.  Before shutting off in Windows machines, Hibernate saves your data to hiberfil.sys which can be a rather large file with size of several GB.  Hibernation tends to mimic the time that shutdown takes to resume your system.  An article from the Microsoft Small Business center even promotes using Hibernate at all times in place of Shutdown, unless you won’t be using the computer for an extended period.  Hibernate uses 2W of power per hour or less depending on what type of system you have.

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Which is better, Sleep or Hibernate?

Both sleep and hibernate are good choices.  Which is best honestly depends on your specific system and circumstances.  Sleep mode uses a very small amount of power, but it is still significantly more than Hibernate the more time that goes by.  However, although Hibernate might seem like the lowest power option, if you are only resting the computer for short durations it can change things.

Most computers use a significant amount of power to start up from a full shutdown or hibernate whereas with sleep mode it is already booted up and good to go.  If you plan on only resting the computer for a short period of the time, use Sleep.  Save Hibernate mode for when you want a decent speed boot-up, but plan on leaving the system off for an extended period of time, such as before bed.  A good rule of thumb however is when in doubt, use Sleep.  Sleep is a better option than just leaving the PC turned on and if you think you might need to jump back on it, your system will start almost instantly!

Thanks to this groovy chart from LifeHacker, we can get a nice visual on just how much power Sleep mode uses in comparison to Shutdown / Hibernate.
sleep mode uses more power than hibernate, but only  if left like that for a long time.

Thoughts, Questions?  Drop a comment below or join the discussion in the free groovyPost technical support community!

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5 Responses to Understanding Your PC And Devices, Sleep VS. Hibernate [groovyTips]

  1. D Ross May 14, 2010 at 6:35 am #

    With a notebook the use of either option is battery related.
    When you hibernate, the current state of your system is written to the disc, and the machine effectively shut down. When you power up, you will be in the original state – but certain time sensitive functions, like internet connections may be compromised.
    In sleep mode, everything remains as it was, with the exception of wireless devices. In this mode, the battery drain is minimal.
    So…if you plan to be away from your machine for several hours – hibernate.
    If you’re going on a coffee break, to the head, or lunch. Sleep.
    There are several other options here; like the naughty dude in your office that want’s access to you machine – then you need to study the simple security options in a restart.

    Good Luck…

  2. Dennis Gibb November 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

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  3. Power vs Energy April 7, 2015 at 1:30 am #

    “Most computers in sleep mode use 5W-10W of energy per hour ” “Hibernate uses 2W of power per hour” Please correct.
    5W to 10W of power (which is 5-10 J per sec)

    2W of power per hour doesn’t make sense, (unless it is change in power)

  4. Atif Rasheed August 28, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    I found the groovy articles very helpful. Plausible efforts indeed!

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