Hibernation vs Sleep vs Hybrid Sleep vs Shutdown. Which One Should You Use?

Windows provides the following four types of system turn-off options.

They all have their purpose. But which one to use?

Hibernate

Hibernation is one of the most underused features of Windows. When you press the Hibernate button in Power options button in Windows Start Menu, all of the contents of the RAM are moved to the Hard Drive, and stored into a file called hiberfil.sys. This means that Windows saves all of the data currently active on your system in the hiberfil.sys, and then shuts down your system. When you (re)start your system, Windows recovers your previous session from the hibernation file hiberfil.sys, and turns it into an active session.

Hibernate is Shutdown but with saved contents. During booting, the system will detect that it was hibernated the last time, and will restore the contents of the previous session from the hiberfil.sys at the start of the system.

Pros

  • Saves Time in comparison to Shutdown: Hibernate is closer to Shutdown than to Sleep. In comparison to shutdown, it saves more time in both the events, shutting down and starting up the Windows. Hibernate takes more time than Sleep because Windows has to move the data from RAM to the Hard Drive while shutting down and from Hard Drive to RAM while starting up whereas in Sleep mode, the data is kept in the RAM, which is much faster than HDD.
  • Saves Electricity: It saves more electricity and battery power in comparison to Sleep.

Cons

  • Slow in comparison to Sleep: Hibernation takes more time to close because it has to move the contents between RAM and the hibernation file.
  • Bad for Security: When you (re)start your computer from Hibernation, Windows doesn’t ask for login credentials.

Sleep

When you press the Sleep button, the computer is sent into a low-power consuming mode. It’s not shutdown entirely but the main power-consuming features such as Screen, Hard Disk Drive, etc. are turned off. The low power required is the power needed to keep the RAM in On state.

Pros

  • Saves Time in comparison to Hibernation: Sleep is faster in nature than Hibernation because it doesn’t have to transfer the contents of RAM into any file. It is instant. Sleep is much quicker as compared to Hibernation as well as Shutdown.

Cons

  • Uses more electricity as compared to Hibernation: Sleep mode consumes electricity and battery power. In case of a laptop, if you put your laptop to sleep then the battery will run out of power sooner or later depending upon the state and the capacity of the battery.
  • Loss of active program contents in case of complete Battery drain: If the power is lost or if the battery power of the laptop is completely used then all of the contents of the active session are lost. It becomes a Shutdown in that case.
  • Bad for Security: When you (re)start your computer from the Sleep mode, Windows doesn’t ask for login credentials.

Hybrid Sleep

As the name suggests, the Hybrid Sleep feature is mixture of Hibernate and Sleep. Here, your active session or active data is stored on two places, the RAM as well as the Hard Drive. So if your battery runs out of power, and you lose the contents saved on RAM, then Windows can restore them from the Hard Drive instead. This feature was introduced in Windows Vista.

Pros:

  • Saves Time in comparison to Shutdown: Hybrid Sleep takes less time to turn off and turn on the computer as compared to Shutdown.

Cons:

  • Bad for Security: When you (re)start your computer from the Hybrid Sleep mode, Windows doesn’t ask for login credentials.

Shutdown

Shutdown clears everything. Every new start means the drivers, programs, and services will start again. This should be the least used power option. Shutdown is necessary for Updates, and Software Installations or Uninstallations.

Fun Fact: Even when your computer is shutdown, it uses some power. It is called Flea Power.

Conclusion/Opinion: If you are taking a break from your computer work for some time and going to resume it after some time then it’s better to use the Sleep mode because it consumes lesser power than a fully on or active machine. So you save electricity and battery.

If there’s a considerable time gap between your two consecutive computer sessions, then there is no point is using the Sleep mode. Use Hibernation in such a scenario because a long gap means that there will be power drainage using the Sleep mode, and if you system is running on battery power, there are chances that the battery will run out of power, and you’ll lose your session. Whereas using hibernation means that you have your session backup up, so no worries there.

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