Sleep, hibernate, or shutdown? Which is the best option for your laptop?

Do we need to turn off the computer when we are done using it? Or is it fine to just close the lid of the laptop overnight while we sleep?

There are many ways to shut down your computer or laptop: you can turn the machine off completely, you can make it sleep, or you can hibernate it. However, there have always been controversies, myths, and lots of doubts as to whether it’s more advisable to sleep, shut down, or hibernate your machine.

In order to make the most appropriate decision, it’s important to have a good understanding of what each of these options does, their advantages and disadvantages.

Sleep: Also known as Standby in earlier Windows. Once in sleep mode, the computer enters a low-power state. The power supply to the components, except the RAM, gets disconnected. RAM retains the state of the computer till that time. Sleep saves the work that was open at the time, and also the configuration of the memory with low power consumption, and lets you quickly resume operations at full speed. However, this uses more power than shutting down or hibernating your computer. Also, since RAM is made from flash memory modules, it is therefore volatile, and data will be lost in the event of a power cut while in Sleep mode. Therefore, it is important that you save any important documents and files first.

Shut Down: Most of us are familiar with this  power-off state. When you shut down your machine everything closes and the RAM memory is cleared and the machine reverts to an off position. A computer that’s shut down uses almost no power. However, when you want to use your machine again, you will have to switch it on and go through the typical boot-up process, waiting for the hardware to boot again and load everything you need.

Hibernate: This option is a in between state between sleep and shut down. In this case, the entire state of your computer’s memory is saved to the hard drive, particularly the contents of its RAM into a file on its hard drive. When you boot up, it will then load this state from your hard drive allowing you to pick up right where you left off. This lets you to save your computer’s state, including all your open programs and data, and come back to it later. This state uses less power than sleep mode but takes a little longer to get going compared to the sleep mode. The amount of power used by the computer is the same during hibernation as while the computer is shut down.

The computer automatically goes into hibernate mode to save your state when you put your computer to sleep and its battery becomes critically low.

When To Sleep, Shut Down, and Hibernate

The choice of above options depends on what you expect from your computer. For instance, if you use your computer multiple times per day, it’s best to leave it on. However, if you use it for a short time — say an hour or two — just once a day, or even less, then turn it off.

When To Sleep: Sleep is useful if you want your machine to start quickly or if you are just stepping away for a few minutes. The applications stay open, power consumption is low, and turning the computer both off and on is fast. Also, when you need to use your computer again, you can resume from where you left off in just a few seconds. Your computer will always be ready to use when you need it.

When To Shut Down: You may want to shut down your machine when you are going to be away for a while. Several people will probably want to hibernate their laptops instead of shutting them down, as many computers will resume from hibernate faster than they will boot up from shut down. However, some computers or software may not work properly when resuming from hibernate, in which case you will want to shut down your computer instead. Also, it is a good idea to shut down your machine, or at the very least restart it, every now and then just to clear out the memory and reset the laptop.

When To Hibernate: Hibernate saves more power than sleep. Hibernate your computer only if you are going to be away from it for prolonged amount of time – say, if you’re going to sleep for the night. This will help save electricity and battery power. You will not be able to run any programs while your computer is hibernating. However, hibernate is slower to resume from. While hibernation is beneficial over sleep mode, as it saves more amount of power but the machine takes more time to wake up in comparison to sleep.


Depending on how you use your laptop at any given time, it is very important to know how to choose the right option. This will not only help you save electricity and battery power, but will also help to keep components of your computer last much longer.


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