How-To

USB Ports Still Powered in Sleep Mode? Here’s How to Fix It

USB devices still draw power from your laptop, even in sleep mode. Here’s how to change that.

I use my laptop pretty much like a desktop recording studio. It sits in my basement with all manner of USB devices plugged into it, including a USB audio interface, a USB midi controller, and a USB hub that has my mouse plugged into it. One thing that really bugs me about this setup is that all these USB devices remain powered on when I put my laptop to sleep. Realistically, this isn’t a big deal.

How Much Energy?

The amount of electricity it’s using is probably minimal. But it gives me the anxiety to see that USB audio interface with its flashing light, indicating that it’s powered-on but can’t connect to my computer. If this laptop were somewhere other than my basement—say in the family room or a dorm room—I can see how a tabletop full of dumb flashing USB devices could be even more annoying.

Short of shutting down my computer entirely each time I leave the room or unplugging the USB devices, I hadn’t been able to find a fix for this. Keeping USB ports powered while a computer is in sleep mode is the intended Windows 10 behavior.

Long story short, what fixed my problem with the USB devices staying powered was setting up my laptop to hibernate instead of sleep. Not a perfect solution, but it works for me. Read on for more details.

How to Power Off USB Ports when Laptop is in Hibernate

First, let me go over a few things that did not work for me. Several Windows 10 settings seem to relate to how USB ports are powered and when they all ended up being dead ends for me.

In the Advanced Power Options menu, there’s an option that lets you enable or disable USB selective suspend. This option lets your computer put USB ports into a low power state during sleep rather than turning them off completely. Unfortunately, enabling or disabling this feature did not affect me.

In Device Manager, if you go into the properties of a USB device, there’s a Power Management tab with an option that says, “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.” It seems promising, but again, changing this setting didn’t help my cause.

I saw some suggestions in forums and Q&A sites about fiddling with BIOS settings, but I wasn’t about to do that (I also heard it doesn’t work).

In the end, what did the trick was changing my laptop’s behavior, so I go into hibernate mode rather than sleep mode when I close the lid.

“But wait,” you might say. “There is no hibernate mode in Windows 10!”

Oh, but there is. Check out Brian’s article: How to Enable Hibernate Mode in Windows 10

Now, when I close my laptop lid and walk away, all the lights go out on my USB devices. Much better.

Of course, there are some pros and cons of sleep vs. hibernate. But for me, the only pro I care about is getting rid of those annoying, blinking lights.

Do you use sleep or hibernate in Windows 10? Tell me why in the comments.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. George

    Do keep in mind that this might decrease the overall lifespan of your SSD if you have one. Even if just for a little. I personally rely on a USB hub with power switches so that I can turn off certain USB devices easily.

  2. Edward Sanchez

    It can decrease the lifespan but that’s mainly for mechanical hard drives and not SSDs.

  3. Richard

    Yes, i’ve tried to make Windows shut down USB ports when it goes to sleep but Microsoft doesn’t allow this: they force users to either shutdown or hibernate their computers. It is obvious that sleep mode should be low power or power off except for keeping memory refreshed so you can continue without much delay but the great and wonderful Microsoft thinks differently.

  4. Daniel hodgson

    This is interesting, it took me a a lot of frustration to figure out how to be able to wake my laptop with the mouse in clamshell mode. Guess what there is a setting for exactly that. Now I have the same problem, keyboard, mouse and mouse pad are lit up 24/7. So I have a question. If I set the usb to turn off in hibernation will I still be able to use the mouse or keyboard to bring it out of hibernation, and do you have to disable sleep mode for hibernation to work?

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