Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Hibernation vs. Sleep+Vista

What is the difference between “hibernation” and “sleep”? Both are power-saving states designed to achieve a compromise between fully-powered (“on”) and total shutdown. Without these low-power states (Stand By, Sleep, and Hibernate), you would have to go through the whole Windows’ boot process each morning. Although Vista has a shorter boot than previous versions, it still takes longer than most of us would like to wait — we are prone to desire “instant gratification” these days — and so we use Stand By, Sleep, or Hibernate.

I wrote an article on power states and how to make adjustments to when they kick in, and use the Power Options control panel. To read (or review) this article, click this link, More reader questions answered: power states. Today I want to answer the title’s question, and tell you how to enable Hibernation as a power-saving option if it is not already a part of your Power Options control panel.

To begin with, Hibernation is a deeper “off state” than Sleep (or Stand By, as it’s sometimes called), and thus offers greater power savings at the cost of a longer rebooting time. It is considered a “safer” state, in terms of data. This is because, unlike Sleep mode, Hibernation not only shuts down the power to peripherals (monitor, etc.) and hard drives, but also turns off the power to the RAM memory chips.
When you remove the power to RAM, any data there is “lost”, forgotten, gone — whatever unsaved document, any open window, and such. 
Hibernation “writes” (Saves) all the 1’s and 0’s that are in RAM to a reference file (on your hard drive) before un-powering RAM, and it “reads” this file and reloads the data when you come out of Hibernation, thus restoring you to where you ended your ‘session’. (This “reading” and loading is why it takes longer to “wake” than coming out of Sleep.)
Sleep/Stand By mode retains the power to your RAM. There is no saving of RAM contents to a file and there’s no need ‘load’ it — and thus it’s faster.. with less power savings. If there was a power interruption for some reason while in this state (and you don’t have a UPS), then your unsaved RAM contents would be gone.

Laptop computers typically come with the Hibernation power-settings option enabled and desktops don’t. If you would like to add the Hibernation option to your desktop, or if for some reason (such as a sneaky Windows Update) your Hibernation option has disappeared and you would like it back, here’s how to restore it: open a command prompt (Start >Programs >Accessories >Command Prompt) and type in “powercfg -h on” (no quotes) and hit Enter. That’s it. Now you will find Hibernation settings in the Power Options area of your Control Panel.

Vista users: Vista has a known bug which sometimes causes it to fail to read the Hibernation reference file and “lock up” when waking. This causes you to have to do a hard boot, (hold down the power button for 10 seconds) and the data in the reference file is gone. It is hoped that this ‘glitch’ will be fixed with the release of Service Pack 1, but I cannot confirm this will actually be the case. The KB Update which fixes this issue was included in SP1, and it seems to have eliminated the issue entirely. Both SP1 and the seperate patch can be obtained by simply using Windows Update, or manally at

* If instead you would like to remove the buggy Hibernation mode, and disable it from your automatic power-saving settings, the command is “powercfg -h off” (no quotes).

Today’s free link: for those of you who like digital music, the Nexus Radio download is for you. This offers you not only 6000+ Internet radio stations you can listen to, but the ability to record directly to your hard drive.

Copyright 2007 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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November 1, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, PC, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , | 21 Comments