Sleep and Hibernate in Windows 7: The Great Debate

Sleep and Hibernate in Windows 7: The Great Debate

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And now, another instructive encounter with a Windows feature!

Today I'm moderating one of the most eye-opening debates of the decade, between a pair of venerable Windows 7 features: Sleep and Hibernate. Let's listen in.

JG: Candidates, you each have a few seconds to respond to questions, and your opponent will be allowed a brief rebuttal, after which you can respond.

*audience titters*

JG: The first question is for you, Sleep. It's been said that you and Hibernate aren't really all that different. Do you agree?

SLEEP: Let me just say how pleased I am that users have real choices here. Yes, we're both about helping computers and their users conserve power, but we're fundamentally different. I stand for readiness, which is crucial in a busy world. When I'm at work, all open documents and programs stay in memory. I slow power consumption to a trickle by shutting down most functions, but starting back up is nearly instant. Guess I'm a light sleeper.

JG: Hibernate, your rebuttal, please.

HIBERNATE: Yes, we really are different, but only I offer true restraint and sustainability. A computer in hibernate mode consumes virtually no power at all, because all the open documents and programs have been saved to the hard drive, and I can power down the system's memory. This far superior power savings is particularly good for laptops that are going to be unused for a while. In fact, I'm so essential that I take over when a laptop has been left in sleep mode for a very long time and finally runs out of juice.

JG: And now, Sleep, you may respond.

*ever-so-brief pause*

SLEEP: Yes, here I am. See, no waiting around here. By the way, I have a cousin, Hybrid Sleep, who hangs out on a lot of desktops. She saves everything to disk and keeps it in memory too, so she's ready for fast action but also does fine after power failures.

JG: Your time is up. Now the next question is for Hibernate: Both you and your opponent can usually be found loitering on the Start menu, by clicking the arrow next to the Shut down button—and that's how people can put you to work.

Sleep and Hibernate on the Start menu

But surely, there are other options you could discuss.

*short wait*

HIBERNATE: Resuming Windows. I mean, er, yes. Both of us can begin doing our thing automatically, too—say, after a certain period of inactivity. The timing is adjustable, and it's even possible to tell us "never"! This is done by changing options on a Power plan, as explained in this FAQ.

Power Options settings

JG: Sleep, your rebuttal?

SLEEP: Frankly, those just sound like talking points to me.

HIBERNATE: Oh, quit flip-flopping.

SLEEP: I've got video of you accepting a bribe!

HIBERNATE: Well, at least I didn't get my cousin a sweetheart job!

SLEEP: Well, you—

JG: And that's all the time we have. Sounds like you both have your place; maybe you should consider running on the same ticket. Thanks to our audience.

Join me again soon for our next Feature encounter, when we catch up with Taskbar over salad and sodas at a local eatery.


  • Using hibernate on my laptop and sleep on PC , cuz of battery saving :)

  • Alright, but the most of times i shutdown my computer ...

  • In a strange way, I found this pretty funny!  But, you'll be pleased to hear it was also very helpful :)

  • Hibernate uses NO power, not "virtually" no power. The machine is completely powered off.

  • Ever since my first notebook in Nov 1996, my computer has been on Sleep, at different times called Standby.  I have changed notebooks 11 times, but my computer is still on Sleep whenever I am moving or when the computer is not in use (eg at night when I sleep).  Yeah, I have powered down, to change memory, clean the computer, etc, but I have not shut down the computer because I don't need to use it.

    In other words, I have not switch off my computer for 14 + years.  Anyone can beat that?

  • HAHA, very nicely put together artikle and I liked the humorous angle.

    Well done.

  • Pretty cool, lol, although for me hibernate wins because if you're dual booting you can hibernate, boot into the other OS, then hibernate that OS and go back to the first one with the same session.

  • So basically Sleep is ok if you are flitting between places close by where you want to have almost instant access to you open programs as quickly as possible and Hibernate is when you you will have to boot up quickly but it saves battery power which is useful if you are on a journey of a couple of hours or more.

    I use Hibernate a lot.

  • Hibernate: The word on the street is that you cause far more crashes, freezes and instability than sleep. Do you have a response? ... Hello? ... Hibernate? Oh my god! Someone call a technician!!!

  • SLEEP breakes down my internet connection when come back. HIBERNATE keeps the internet connection up and live, and everything goes fine after resuming. So, I prefer HIBERNATE because SLEEP does not work properly. Is that a bug or a feature?

  • So childish. What was the point of that.

  • What is all this utter nonsense! What a load of drivel.

  • There should be more tech articles written in such an entertaining format. Thx for changing it up.

  • This is what codeproject newsletters are sending me nowadays? :|

  • came here with a lot of enthusiasm n curiousity.. dead topic.. not worth reading

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