Shut Down, Sleep or Hibernate. What's the best option for your laptop?

Shut Down, Sleep or Hibernate. What's the best option for your laptop?


8 min read

Shut Down, Sleep or Hibernate. What's the best option for your laptop?

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Is it better to shut down your computer? Or is using sleep mode fine? or better still using the Hibernate mode? What's the best option for your laptop? Find the answer here Add-Hibernate-option-to-the-Start-Menu-in-Windows-10-886x590.jpg

Most Windows desktops and laptops will offer you three ways to leave your computer to rest when it is not in immediate use. These are Sleep, Hibernate and Shut down. However, what do the three options mean and why could you be using the wrong option? These are some of the questions we will be answering today. windowstengethibernationback6.png

Firstly, I want to talk about one of each of these and when you should use each one of those options.

To some of you, looking at this start menu you might not even have hibernate as an option. So before I go over anything else, I just want to show you how to add hibernate to this list of options. To do that

  1. Open Control Panel.
  2. Go to the following item: Hardware and Sound > Power Options. change-what-the-power-options-do-Windows-10-.png
  3. On the left, click "Choose what the power buttons do"
  4. Click the Change Settings that are currently unavailable link. The Shutdown options will become editable. We then have the option to add a checkmark that is to hibernate which will then be added to the list of power options on the start menu. Check the option there called Hibernate (Show in Power menu). add-hibernation-start-menu-Windows-10.png
  5. Click on Save changes and that’s it. Start-menu-with-hibernate.png To hide the Hibernate option from the Shutdown menu of the Start Menu on Windows 10, just untick that checkbox.

Now before we can talk about when to use each power option. We need to talk about what each power option does.

What Is Shut Down?

So obviously shutting the computer down does just that it turns the computer completely off. However, it is still important to know that even when the computer is completely shut down it still draws a very small amount of power. Shutting down your computer is when all the software, programs, files, and processes are closed and the memory in the RAM is cleared.

Before shutting down it is important to save all your work as your computer will not re-open anything you were previously working on before shutting down. It is best to shut down your computer when you don’t need to use it for a while and to save power. Shutting down your computer also allows it to run faster with clear RAM.

Shutting down your laptop is better when you've finished your work and don't need the laptop for a longer duration, like over the weekend.

It's good to do, too, especially if you haven't shut it down for a few days. See, the longer your computer is on, the more programs, apps, and background processes will be running. With a shutdown, those things are reset, which is essential as constantly running programs tends to slow down your PC over time.

What Is Sleep Mode?

The second option is sleep mode, basically what this does is - stores the documents and files you are operating into the RAM, using a small amount of power in the process. It copies the computer session into the computer RAM, so if you have any files or apps opened, it copies that into the RAM and then put the computer into a low power state so that way when you come back to the computer and wake it from sleep mode, it re-open those files and apps and gets you right back to where you left off before you put it in sleep.

The sleep mode is sometimes called standby mode and is similar to pausing a tv show or movie. When you put the computer to sleep, all programs and processes are halted but remain open – stored in the computer’s memory. When you wake the computer up, all processes and programs will be open and usable pretty much right away.

The sleep mode is when your laptop screen goes black and blank after a period of inactivity. But what happens in sleep mode? It's a state when your PC uses very little power. Whatever is running on your PC at that time, like websites, applications, and open documents, are saved on the PC's short-term memory, RAM (Random Access Memory).

Putting your computer to sleep is ideal if you are going to step away from your computer for a short amount of time, but it generally isn’t a good idea to let your computer sleep for more than a few hours, as your computer may crash. Note: When you put your computer to sleep, any work done since you last saved is not saved, rather it will remain on the screen and open instead.

In sleep mode, only your laptop's RAM draws a battery while the processor, hard disk, and other components are powered down to save the battery. Also, you don't have to worry that you'll lose your work because of your battery draining, because Windows or macOS automatically saves all your work and turns off the PC if the battery is too low.

You can select after how much time your laptop should enter sleep mode from the Power & sleep settings on your PC. To access sleep mode, just press the power button on your laptop, or close your laptop's lid.


To come out of sleep mode, press your laptop's power button. You might also be able to wake it by pressing any key on the keyboard, clicking the left or right mouse buttons on the touchpad, or opening the lid on your laptop.

Having your laptop go to sleep is also better as some components like the LCD panel, battery, and hard drive have a limited life cycle. So allowing them to sleep when not in use will extend their life. Heat is also generated when your laptop is on, and heat is the enemy of all components.

What Is Hibernate Mode?

Hibernate mode is similar to sleep mode in the sense that it saves the information to your hard disk, which allows your computer to be turned off completely and use no energy, but instead of copying the session into the RAM, it copies it to your hard disk and then put the computer into an even lower power state than sleep mode. When you turn your computer back on, your hard drive allows your work to be brought right back to where you left off.

Hibernate is mainly meant for laptops and is best used in the event you are not planning to use your computer for a long period but want to keep your work up. This is ideal if you are not going to be using your computer for an extended period, yet want programs to remain open.

When in hibernation, your computer saves its current state to the hard drive instead of its memory, or RAM. For this reason, it takes longer to resume from a state of hibernation compared to sleep. However, this mode uses less power than sleep too.

Hibernation is a mid-way between shutting down your machine and putting it to sleep. I would call it shutting down, but while saving data of whatever is going on. Because hibernating uses a negligible amount of power, it is also impervious to power cuts as the data is saved to the hard disk.

  • So, let's close up the question to as when to use each of one of those options, shut down, sleep or hibernate. And also people want to know, Which one should you use to add longevity on computer.

What I will recommend is, I will not turn the computer on and off more than once a day maximum. However, continually powering it on and off multiple times per day stresses the components as you are changing the temperature inside the system, causing the hardware to contract and expand. Try to limit this stress. Your system will last longer. Use Shut down if you are going to be away for more than 24 hours.

If you are going to be away from the computer for just a short time or let's say about an hour, I will use sleep mode. Because it is minimizing the amount of power that the computer is using and also gets you back to your session very quickly.

If you are going to be away from the computer for more than a couple of hours, but less than 24 hours. I'll use hibernate.

Now you know what sleep, hibernate and shutdown is and what happens to your laptop in either of these states. In short, you should use any of these options in different situations. So use your laptop with thought and care to enjoy years of hassle-free performance.

Thanks! that is it for this month 👍. I hope you are making maximum use of this year. Learn a Tech skill now. It isn't too late to start.

I am offering a two-week mentoring session this February on web development, If you have any questions, feel free to send me a DM on Twitter and I'll be happy to answer every single one.

Have a great month! 🥂