Differences between Shutdown, Sleep and Hibernate

Differences between shutdown, sleep & hibernate

The differences between shut down, sleep, and hibernate is quite easy to understand. If you are very familiar with Pcs or desktop computers, especially the windows operating systems; you will notice different power options (shutdown, sleep, restart, hibernate).

Most people who use these computer systems hardly know the major difference between them and which of the power state is suitable for their needs.

A lot of people leave their computer running throughout the day while some people shut down their PC immediately after they are done working on their laptop.

Computer systems require you to be power-conscious about power usages and that is why each of the power states was designed to help you manage your power consumption – especially when running on a battery.

So let’s take a deeper look at what each power options mean


You should be very familiar with this power state. When you shut down your pc, all or any of your open programs and application closes and the PC gets off with the operating system. In other words, a PC that is shut down uses almost no power, it does not consume any power in your battery.

However, one of the disadvantages is that when you want to use your PC again and you turn it on, you will have to wait for some time for the PC to go through the typical boot-up process, waiting for your hardware to initialize and programs to load startup. This may take a few seconds to few minutes depending on your system.

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In sleep mode, your computer is turned off mostly, but not entirely. It means any of your open programs or documents are saved on the memory (RAM) for later use when it is turned off. Whenever you turn it on back, your open programs and works are retrieved and you can continue from when you left off.

In sleep mode, your PC uses less power. The amount of power consumed is very low which is an advantage for anyone concerned about their battery life and monthly bill.

One major reason why I like to sleep on my PC is basically that the time it takes to bring everything back to life takes only a few seconds or two. It allows for an immediate startup so you don’t have to wait for a long boot from the startup process.

Desktop is somewhat different, as they don’t have a battery to keep them running and to allow for a smooth shutdown.

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Hybrid sleep mode takes care of that in Desktop. It allows the RAM in your computer to hold on to information for a quick startup — Just like in sleep mode but it also writes the same data to hard disk for safekeeping in the event of a power failure.


Hibernate mode is more or less the same as fully shutting down your computer except that all your open programs and documents are saved on the hard drive, unlike sleep mode which saves your work to memory (RAM) for later use. So in hibernate mode, there are no chances of losing your work if the power goes off abruptly.

When you hibernate, your PC does not consume any power, it preserves your battery just like when you shut down. However, turning on your PC or starting from hibernate mode takes less time booting up from scratch.

Your PC resumes faster than when you shut down and you are back to your work because it resumes faster than when you shut down and you are back to your work because it resumes from where you left off.


Well, this question depends on the PC user because different people treat their computers differently. But I will give you some instances so you can make your choices right.

When to Sleep: Sleep is particularly good when you will not be away for so long. If you just want to do some stuff and return back to your PC in no time, sleep is appropriate because it saves your work and lets you continue from when you left. However, if you will be away for days or weeks without using your PC, it is not appropriate because your battery gets depleted gradually when you sleep.

When to Hibernate: I use hibernate a lot. If you won’t be using your PC throughout the day or let’s say overnight, you may consider hibernating your computer to save battery power. Also if you are conversant with working on your laptop at intervals and you don’t like to close your open programs so that you can continue from when you left off.

When to Shutdown: The disadvantage of shutting down your PC is that it takes longer to start from boot-up than sleep and hibernate. However, if you are not the type who makes use of your PC all the time or you don’t really have a busy schedule, you can always shut down your PC.

Is any of the Power Options Missing?

How to customize your power button options
If you notice that one or more options are missing from your Pc, you can follow the steps below to customize your power button.

  1. Double click on your control panel or desktop or go to the start button and locate the control panel.
  2. Click “Power options”
  3. Choose “additional power settings”
  4. Click “Choose what the power buttons do”
  5. Choose on “change settings that are currently unavailable
  6. Click the checkbox next to hibernate or your choice of options

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