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Hibernate VS. Shut Down VS. Sleep

Hibernate VS. Shut Down VS. Sleep

This is, at least to the more advanced PC users, more than just a novelty question. To more casual users, who just user operating system as is and hardly ever customizes it or is generally a more casual PC consumer, the question might not matter at all. However, power computer users have been obsessing about this almost maniacally for years it seems.

Does it really matter? Will it lengthen or shorten the lifespan of your hardware?

Hibernating your computer

First let’s define what hibernating really is. To set your computer on hibernate means you are essentially keeping a snapshot of your computer’s current state and then shutting it down temporarily. It is basically a fine line between shutting down completely and putting your laptop or computer to sleep. How this works is that the computer stores whatever programs, games, software, documents, or browsers that you have currently up and running and puts it in your random access memory, which is basically the temporary memory of your computer. Then it puts the computer in a completely no power state. Once you push that power button again, the desktop boots from the start, but realizes that it has objects within the RAM and loads that up. Within seconds, you have the exact computer state that you are in when you hibernated. This is extremely useful for when you have documents up or browsers open and you wish to keep them up while also using the computer’s power much less.

Shutting down

Shutting down is exactly what it sounds like. You first have to manually save all the documents that you have open, browsers that your running, and then the computer begins the shutting down process. It one by one closes each program until it can safely shutdown and turn off the power completely. When you shut down, no program should be running and nothing will be saved for when you next boot up. Shutting down is a great way to get rid of any persisting problems the PC has while you are running it the first time. This is because putting it out fresh from a shut down means that no program has been occurring in the background.


Putting your computer to sleep is the best way to temporarily save its computer state. However, do realize that sleep mode does actually use power consumption. This is helpful to understand just in case there are power outages. If such circumstances happen, then unfortunately the work you have up won’t be saved. Nothing is stored in all permanent hard drive well your work is in sleep mode. So it’s best to only have sleep mode on for a few minutes or an hour or so at a time and not always be using sleep mode.

So which one should I use?

The debate for all of these is argumentative on each side. Use one depending on your current needs. If you have persisting problems or you need a full shutdown, definitely use the shutdown option. There is no harm in using shutdown and consistently booting up every time. If you simply need to save your work for a few minutes at a time, use the sleep function as it will quickly put your computer in a low-power state and use very little power. If you need to save your computer state for longer time than you would for sleep mode, use hibernate. This will save all of your work but take a little longer to go into a no power state or putting out from no power state. However, it is extremely useful even two power outages because all your work is saved on memory and you won’t lose anything even if the powers out.

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