Difference Between Hibernate And Sleep In Windows

Windows has a few different options for shutting down the computer — you have the regular Shut Down option which turns off the computer entirely, but there are a few other choices in the options list: Hibernate and Sleep. What do they do exactly, and how are they different? The options certainly sound extremely similar, but they actually handle the actual process of power saving very differently.

So if you’ve always been curious on what the difference are, follow along with us below.

Difference Between Hibernate And Sleep In Windows


Sleep Mode is akin to pressing the Pause button. Everything on your computer is paused, or put into memory, while the computer itself goes into a Low Power state. The computer is still technically On, but is using the least amount of power possible. This preserves battery life, essentially putting the computer in a Standby mode.

When the computer is in Sleep Mode, it’s very easy to resume normal activity. Hit the Power button, and your computer is able to immediately resume to full operation in just a couple of seconds.


Hibernate is pretty much the same idea as Sleep Mode. How it differs is that your documents and open tasks are all saved to the hard disk, whereas it’s saved to memory in Sleep Mode. This means that, instead of a Low Power mode, the computer is able to turn off entirely, not using any power whatsoever.

The difference between Sleep and Hibernate modes is essentially how fast you can get back into your documents and applications. In Hibernate mode, all of your documents and applications are immediately resumed, but it takes a little bit longer for the machine to power up. However, if you’re using an SSD over a traditional hard drive, this speeds up the process dramatically, but is still slower than Sleep Mode’s saving to memory.

Hybrid Sleep

One thing that many people aren’t familiar with is the Hybrid Sleep mode. This isn’t a mode that you can select, but is something that is automatically applied to desktops when you enter Sleep Mode.

Hybrid Sleep is a cross between Sleep and Hibernate. It saves your documents and applications to both memory and the hard disk. It still puts your computer into a low-power state, but makes it pretty quick to resume what you’re doing after powering back on. Like we mentioned, this is a mode applied by default to windows 10 desktops, but disabled in laptops.

It’s especially helpful in the event of a power outage, allowing you to still resume to your work after power is restored, because it’ll just pull the data from the hard disk, if memory isn’t accessible.

Shut Down

It can be pretty obvious what shutting down your PC or laptop entirely does. When you hit that Shut Down button, your computer is completely powered off, and nothing is saved to memory or the hard disk. That means that, when you power back on, it can take a little bit of time to get to your home screen.

You’re starting fresh, too. Nothing is resumed when powering back on — it’s a clean slate. That’s why it’s always recommended to save your work before powering down.

It’s worth noting that, so long as you have an SSD in your laptop or PC, it should only take a couple of seconds to boot up to your home screen. It takes longer if you’re running a traditional, mechanical hard drive.

What should you use?

What you use highly depends on your device and what you’re doing. If you’re using a laptop and are on the go all day, you may want to consider using the Hibernate option, since this will save the most battery power.

If you are using a desktop, it doesn’t necessarily matter which mode you use. Choosing Sleep Mode will obviously resume your documents and activities as quick as possible.

You can use Sleep and Hibernate modes as much as you want; however, over time, this can slow down your computer. Your memory and hard disk can very easily get clogged up over time. That said, you’ll want to restart or completely shut down every so often to keep things running as snappy as possible. This goes for both desktop and laptops, as well as devices on the Mac side of things.

Difference Between Hibernate And Sleep In Windows Verdict

There are some pretty major differences between Hibernate and Sleep. They get pretty technical, but ultimately have a huge part to play on how well your computer performs when it wakes, as well as how quickly your PC can get you back into what you were doing after “Hibernating” or “Sleeping.”

By knowing what each of these actions do, you’ll be able to better select the proper button for what you’re trying to accomplish, as well as possibly identify why your computer might act slower after not shutting down for awhile.

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