It happens all the time; you’re done using your laptop but rather than shut it down you decide to put it on “standby” or “hibernate” until you’re ready to use it again. So which one is it, standby or hibernate?
Many people consider the two interchangeable – no difference at all. NOT TRUE AT ALL! Here’s what you need to know about the two:
STANDBY or SLEEP:
-Continues to use battery power! (so don’t pull the battery out)
-Generally provides quicker “power down” and “wake-up” so you can use your laptop again quickly
-Does not continue to drain your battery (so you can pull it out and still start exactly where you left off even it’s a year from now!)
-Takes longer than “sleep” to “power down” and “wake-up”
SLEEP essentially “holds” your system RAM in its current state so everything in memory stays there (at the expense of continuing to send a “refresh” signal and voltage to the cells). Conversely, HIBERNATE writes the contents of your system RAM into a file (hiberfil.sys) on your hard drive, then literally turns itself off. When your computer goes to restart, it notices that instead of loading all the files from the beginning, it can just rewrite everything into memory where it left off and continue from there. This file does take up an amount of hard drive space equal to the system RAM – though for most systems this is not an issue. For example, if you have 4GB of RAM and a 500GB Hard Drive, the hibernate option will use 4 of your 500 GB of hard drive space (less than 1%)!
Most laptops will know when your battery is critically low even while it’s in sleep mode. It will then switch on momentarily to enter hibernate mode – so you should not lose any data.
Of course there’s something called “Hybrid Sleep.” Vista introduced this mode mostly for desktops (which usually do not have the benefit of a battery backup like laptops do). It allows the speed of wake-up that sleep provides, along with the assurance and security of hibernate. It does both: keeps memory active and writes the RAM contents onto the hard drive.
All in all, you should shutdown when you can (or if you have relatively low RAM of 1GB or less). When you prefer not to do a full shutdown, default to hibernate. If you know that you’ll be using the PC again soon and the battery is not already too low, you should use standby or sleep.
Some computers have the hibernate option disabled or just not visible by default… call us and we’ll help you get it sorted out. In windows XP you can go to “Start”, then “Shut down” and press the “Shift” key when the standby/restart/turn off prompt appears. It will change the standby option to hibernate if your system has hibernate enabled!
Next topic: What’s the right way to do a BACKUP?