When to Use Stand By, Hibernate or Sleep—It Does Make a Difference


Q: Does it make any difference whether I put my computer to “sleep” by choosing Stand by or Hibernate?


A: They both are techniques for putting your computer to sleep—and saving power. So, when you wake them up, the recovery is fast—that is, relative to a startup from a complete shutdown. But one is much faster and safer. And that’s because they work differently.


In general, I suggest using Stand by when, for example, you take a short break during a meeting. Then, when the meeting resumes, a click of a key will nearly instantly reopen the programs and files to their pre-sleep state.


Disadvantage: Stand by will still use some power in the sleep state to maintain those programs and files, and therein lies a danger: If the battery should drain to empty during that period, any unsaved data will be lost.


Hibernate , on the other hand, should be used when an extended period of sleep is called for. And that’s because when you initiate Hibernate, a snapshot of everything on your computer is taken before it shuts down completely—at which point it draws no power. Thus all your data is safe.


Disadvantages: It’s relatively slow getting into the Hibernate state because it first has to take that detailed snapshot and then shut down. And the return of your computer to its earlier state also is relatively slow because it has to reload the programs and data you had open before you ordered it to Hibernate.


Vista adds a third state: the Sleep mode, which is ahybrid of Stand by and Hibernate—adapting the best features of both. If you engage Sleep, first the computer will go into a Stand by mode, and then, if the battery becomes dangerously low, it will automatically engage Hibernate and take that critical snapshot before closing. In addition, Vista lets the user select a default time period before the Stand by mode automatically switches to Hibernate. It’s a nice addition.


If you want to make any number of power-saving adjustments to your computer, follow these steps: For Windows XP, click on Start, Control Panel, Power Options (see screenshot below).



And if you press the Power Schemes tab, you have even more options (see screenshot below).



In Vista, click on Start, Control Panel, Power Options (see screenshot below), and you’ll see an even wider assortment of options.




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