Understanding Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernate Modes

There are three shutdown modes available for Windows operating system, shutdown, sleep and hibernate. Many people may not be aware the real differences between them. Shutdown should be the most commonly selected mode when computer users want to completely turn off their machines. When we choose this mode, our computer will close all opened programs and physically shut down the system. Laptop users should choose this mode to conserve power, because it doesn’t require any power. When we need to use the computer later, we need to press the Power button and Windows will be loaded, along with its background services and applications.

Sleep mode is also called the standby mode. In this case, our computer will consume less energy compared to fully operational mode. Power is consumed only to maintain the open programs and data. However, the display is turned off when this mode is enabled. Our computer will recover much quickly from sleep mode. The display will be switched on again and we will return to the program that we open previously. There’s no need to re-open programs.

Hibernate mode is similar to sleep mode, but it is a deeper state of sleep. Electricity supply to some hardware components is terminated to further conserve power. Data stored in RAM will be transferred to hard drive. The processor will run at minimal utilization. When our laptop or desktop hibernates, it will physically cool down. So, when we open it again, we could feel that it is no longer warm to the touch. Recovering from hibernate mode takes more time, but we should still return to the state when we hibernated our computer. Data will be re-loaded into system memory and we are able to continue our work. So, in terms of recovery speed, hibernate mode is somewhere between sleep and shutdown modes.

The next problem is about when we should choose these modes. In general, modes that we choose should depend on our habits and requirements. There are people who use their computers for only specific period of time, but others could use them intermittently 24/7. In general, we should choose sleep mode if we only leave our computer for a short period of time, such as less than 5 minutes. So, when we continue to use the computer, our work will be recovered very quickly. We don’t need to wait longer, because the programs need to be loaded again.

Hibernate is more useful for laptop users. If they need to stop using their computer for more than 5 minutes, but they don’t want to shut it down, it is a good idea use the hibernate mode. This will conserve power, especially if they are far away from power outlets. So, when they recover, they won’t lose too much battery power. Shutdown mode is selected when we want to stop working for more than a few hours. No power is consumed when our computer is switched off and this will be a good thing for any laptop user.