What is the difference between sleep and hibernate?

What is the difference between sleep and Hibernate
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What is the ultimate power-saving mode to use for my laptop? Is there any significant difference between sleep and hibernate modes? You may be wondering about the same questions or even more.

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Battery saving is very crucial at a certain time of using your PC or laptop. In an attempt to answer these questions, we share with you not only the differences between sleep and hibernate, but also other power-saving modes you can try out and how to enable them.

In the same regard, we have the shutdown and hybrid sleep power-saving modes. However, let us not drift far from the point in question which is between Sleep Vs Hibernate.

Leaving your PC for longer times without use may call you to either shut down, sleep or hibernate. What is the best course of action though? We shall find out as we move along.


Difference between Sleep and Hibernate (An overview)

Differences between sleep and hibernate - ugtechmag.com
What are the differences between sleep and hibernate

Sleep power-saving mode: The sleep mode is a low-power state mode in which your computer’s operations are temporarily stored on RAM and can be resumed a few seconds after a nudge of a button (Based on your laptop setting).

Since RAM is volatile, it must always stay on to keep data.

This means that the sleep power-saving mode consumes less power as expected, but the computer is on and running in the background. (Some operations which are non-necessary and might consume a lot of power are turned off during the background run)

Disadvantages of Sleep power saving mode

  • Consumes more power than Hibernate
  • The battery continues to drain, but slowly
  • The overloading of your RAM can make the computer operations slow (Even though the computer turns on faster than Hibernate)
  • If the battery runs out, all your operations are lost

NOTE: For some modern laptops, when the battery runs out during sleep mode, it automatically goes into hibernation. This means that your operations will not be lost.

Hibernate power-saving mode: The Hibernate mode is a low-power state mode that suspends all computer operations temporarily but takes a longer time to resume than sleep mode.

The Hibernate mode saves all the running computer operations to the hard drive and then turns off completely, giving it a better shot at saving more battery power than the sleep mode. It actually consumes no power at all.

Disadvantages of Hibernate power saving mode

  • Longer computer start-up time
  • The computer applications may run slower when started (You may restart your computer once in a while so that it doesn’t become sluggish after a lot of hibernating)
  • Burdens the computer hardware with continuously resuming applications, and can slow it down in the long run (Depending on the computer)

For some laptops, the hibernate option comes when it is pre-enabled. However, if you don’t find your laptop power options with the hibernate option as shown in the feature image above, here is how to enable the hibernate option.


Since in some PCs the hibernate button might be hidden, you can follow these steps to make the hibernate button visible.

Does Hibernate close programs?

Hibernate does not close computer programs. Hibernate saves programs on the Hard disk memory and resumes all of them when the computer is turned back on.

It is important to note that some PCs don’t have the hibernate option, i.e PCs with InstantGo

How to enable/disable the hibernate option (Windows 10)

  1. Click on the Start (Windows) button on your laptop
  2. In the search bar, search for “Power & Sleep settings”
How to enable/disable the hibernate option (Windows 10)
Select the Power & Settings option
  • Select the option and click on Additional Power Setting in the right panel
How do I enable the hibernate button
  • You will be presented with this list of options as you can see below. Select Choose what the power button does on the left panel
How to change what the power button does
  • In the top options (as you can see in the screenshot below), you will see the option to Change settings that are currently unavailable
How to enable the hibernate options in Windows 10 (2)
  • You will be enabled to tick the Hibernate box. Then tick the box of Hibernate, and save changes.
Add the hibernate option on your power button options
  • You will be able to see the change in your Power button as indicated below

You can also choose what happens when you press the power button or close the laptop Lid from the screenshots above. For example, Preventing your computer from automatically hibernating after a given time.

After following the Power options, all these settings are open for you to tweak around and customize your computer settings and preventing the default settings which might not work for you.

NOTE: For Windows 8, you just search for Power Options and follow the prompts as above (They are almost alike)

How to enable the hibernate option (Windows 7)

  1. Click on the Start button
  2. Select the Control Panel button
  3. Choose the System and Security option
  4. The Select Power Options. Follow the prompts as above (for Windows 10, and you will be able to enable the hibernate option)

To turn on/off hibernate using CMD, here is a quick YouTube tutorial to guide you through the simple steps.

Difference between Sleep and Hibernate mode (Table)

Basic languageA brief napA deeper sleep
Power consumption1 – 5 wattsNo power consumption at all
Power savedLess power as compared to hibernateMore power is saved
Response time (after mode is deactivated)Quickly resumes previous computer operationsTakes longer time to resume previous computer operations
When its recommended for useShort breaks between computer use sessions (10 – 60 minutes)Longer breaks, maybe an overnight session away from your computer (1 hour – 10 hours)
Computer resources utilizedRAMDisk space (Hard drive storage)

Which is better, Hibernate or Sleep?

In my opinion, hibernate saves more power, meaning that it is a better power-saving mode. However, sleep is effective if you are not to use your laptop for a shorter time.

Why does a computer in Hibernation take longer to reboot than in Sleep mode?

You may be wondering why the hibernate mode takes longer than sleep mode in resuming computer operations. Here is why.

This is mainly because the computer hibernate power-saving mode makes use of the disk space (Hard drive storage) to save working operations. Implying that during the resuming process, there is a lot of time when resurrecting the hard drive, and bringing back the previous operations from it.

On the contrary, the sleep power-saving mode keeps the RAM powered up. As you may have heard, RAM is volatile. This means that, if RAM goes off, it loses all its content. The sleep power-saving mode keeps the RAM running throughout since it is where all the computer previous operations are kept.

So, with sleep, the computer rapidly wakes up since the RAM is kept running all along. With hibernate, the computer takes longer to boot since it reads its previous operations from the hard drive, which harddrive is shutdown during the hibernate power-saving mode.

Why does Sleep mode consume more power than Hibernate?

This speaks to why the sleep power saving mode consumes more watts than the hibernate mode. Since the sleep mode uses RAM, the computer is tasked to keep running all the while because it saves the operations on RAM (a volatile storage, which loses content if the computer shuts down). On the contrary, during the hibernate mode, the computer shuts down. Before doing so, it saves all the running operations on the hard drive, which is a non-volatile storage option. (even though its off, it doesn’t lose its content)

Similarities between Sleep and Hibernate mode

  • Both are power-saving modes. Your PC battery power consumption is lower than normal
  • The screen of the computer shuts off
  • Both pause computer operations when mode is selected.
  • Any working function of your windows session is suspended (until your PC power it back up)
  • The user resumes any computer operation that were running before the modes were activated

Is Hibernate bad for SSD

Hibernate is not bad but rather not very useful for SSD.

“The theory regarding SSD and hibernate is that the more disk you use the higher the change of it using up the extra cells and die earlier. Well, under majority use cases, hibernate will have very little impact if any to the lifetime of the SSD.” – Abishek Dujari notes in a quora response.

Other power-saving modes for your laptop.

Hybrid sleep: Hybrid sleep power-saving mode is a combination of both the sleep and hibernate modes. When the computer is put in the hybrid-sleep mode, it:

  • Stores data to RAM
  • Saves a copy of the data to the hard drive

One may wonder if this is an option suitable for their computer (Laptop or Desktop). From the experts, I have been mostly advised that this is an option that is better for Desktop users. Here is why:

If you are using a desktop, you are always connected to power, and if you use the sleep mode it might not be favorable since power may go off (And if power goes off, RAM goes off, thus you lose your content). However, using the hybrid sleep on your desktop helps you to hit 2 birds with one stone. First, it makes use of both the sleep and the hibernate so that, just in case power goes off, all your operations are safely kept on the hard drive.

For laptop users, this might be the option you want to use in case you have a very limited battery and are traveling longer distances. In such a case, you are not sure how long your PC is going to save power but want to be sure that all your operations are available and can be resumed for later use.

Disadvantages of Hybrid sleep mode

  • Consumes more power than the hibernate mode

It is crucial to note that the hybrid sleep mode is not enabled for all computers or laptops. Actually, for most laptops, it might not be available. You, however, can enable it on your Windows 10 laptop. Here is how.

How to enable Hybrid sleep mode (Windows 10)

  1. Click on the Start (Windows) button on your laptop
  2. In the search bar, search for “Power & Sleep settings”
  3. Just like in the options of enabling the Hibernate option above, select the Additional Power Setting in the right panel
  4.  Click on the Change plan settings option as indicated below
How to enable Hybrid sleep mode
  • Then on the next interface as shown below, select the Change Advanced power settings
How to enable the Hybrid sleep mode in windows 10
  • Scroll down through the listed options, and select the Sleep option
Select the sleep option and follow prompts (How to enable Hybrid sleep mode)
  • You will find many options listed, click on the Allow hybrid sleep option
  • On the Allow Hybrid Sleep option, choose the ON option (or OFF if you want to disable the Hybrid sleep mode). After, Click Apply button below then the Okay button after

After following all these prompts of enabling the Hybrid sleep mode, you will not explicitly see the option on your Power button options.

When you enable the Hybrid sleep mode, it automatically puts your computer into Hybrid Sleep mode when you press the Sleep button.

Shut down: Shut down option basically puts all your computer operations to a stop and shuts down every running window. To save battery, and be concretely sure that your computer will not lose a watt of power, shut down is your go-to guy. Oh, the good ol’ shut down.

This can be when you are certain that your laptop will not be in use for whatever time period you decide, and you want to clear up your laptop’s RAM and free up memory.

When you shut down your computer, the booting process takes long (based on the computer type), but the processing speed of the computer is faster. All the processes of the computer are put to a stop, and they start running afresh and quite swiftly when you turn it on. This is the most effective power-saving mode after Hibernate and Hybrid-sleep.

Should I Sleep, Hibernate or Shutdown my PC? (in-brief)

Which is more effective? To Sleep, Hibernate or Shutdown my PC? Here is what we can briefly conclude with on this matter.

When to sleep my computer:

If you are going to have a brief work break, and immediately use your PC after, then the sleep option is the best to choose. This is because immediately you get back to work, your laptop will boot up quickly and power will be saved.

When to Hibernate my computer:

For longer work breaks, travelling and want to save your battery life, if you don’t have power access points or even when your headed off to sleep and want to start your day where you stopped, hibernate is the perfect battery saving mode to use. This is because Hibernate power saving mode doesn’t consume your battery at all but gets your laptop applications exactly back where they stopped.

When to shutdown my computer:

After saving your work and maybe you want to save battery, or you want your computers RAM to rest up a bit, this is the perfect battery saving option.

In terms of saving power, hibernate and shut down are similar. So, the argument on whether one should really shut down their PC can only be settled when it comes to computer performance.

Shutting down your computer might mean that it can take longer to restart even than when in hibernation (depending on the laptop), however, it impacts the processing power of your device. It starts on a clean slate, with a more robust operation speed, than for continuously Hibernated computers.