What is the difference between sleep and hibernate in Windows 7

The new Windows 7 has one particular feature that many people find confusing. A good number of people have asked us what the difference between sleep and hibernate is, and we are here to answer this simple, yet fundamental question.

Both ‘sleep’ and ‘hibernate’ are power saving features, very much like ‘stand-by’ and ‘shut down’ in previous versions of Windows Operating Systems. Power consumption is negligible in sleep mode when compared to normal working status, and your PC consumes even less power when it’s switched to hibernate. In fact, during hibernation, no power at all is used; you could technically leave the computer in this state for years.

When the ‘sleeping’ mode is invoked, your computer stores the current status such as files and settings in the RAM and switches off everything else, and for this reason the computer can ‘wake-up’ very quickly. This option saves a lot of energy, but the user must ensure the computer is always plugged into a power supply as eventually, the battery will run out, requiring a reboot. When the computer resumes work from ‘sleep’, Windows will load quick enough to continue working almost instantly.

From a hibernating state, the computer takes a little longer to resume working. This is because as opposed to ‘sleep’ whereby files etc are saved to RAM, in ‘hibernate’ all settings as well as open files etc are written to the hard disk (HDD), enabling the computer to shut down. The computer will take longer to ‘wake-up’ than it would from ‘sleeping’, but will resume faster than it would from a reboot. Hibernation also uses no power at all, so is ideal for people with laptops on the move.

What are the disadvantages of sleep?
A computer may be woken up from ‘sleep’ when it needs to perform scheduled tasks. If you lose power whilst in sleep state, all current data will be lost since RAM is what we call volatile memory. What this means is that when a PC loses power, RAM loses the information it has stored in it.

What are the disadvantages of hibernate?
The main disadvantage of hibernate is that the computer takes longer to switch itself back to working state than it would from ‘sleep’.

These newly incorporated functions are both excellent, but it is up to the computer user to understand their differences in order to decide which one is suitable for any particular point in time.

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Posted in Microsoft Windows

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