I have always wondered what the sleep vs. hibernate vs. the shutdown mode in Windows Vista meant. The last time I used the sleep mode it frozed my PC and it wouldn’t shutdown or startup properly. So while visiting a relative in Kuantan with nothing else much to do, I decided to explore the above three shutdown mode with my Dell Inspiron 1501 laptop.
Browsing through the help files provided with Windows, it took me awhile to understand the intricacies of each setting. Especially the difference between sleep vs. that of hibernate. They are almost similar in function in that you could continue using Windows from where you left off after you have suspended it. There was even a hybrid sleep version, which took me some time to comprehend. After testing each mode on my laptop I now understood how to use each one effectively. It was quite easy to use once you understood what each of the mode meant.
Everybody knows what Shutdown is, so I won’t elaborate it so much. Though it is the easiest mode to use and understand, according to good old Microsoft, it was not the best option to use; instead they whole heartedly recommend using the Sleep mode. They reasoned that you will waste too much time waiting for the computer to shutdown because Windows need to close all application before switching off, and booting up takes up time because you need to wait for each application and services to startup.
So they suggested using the Sleep mode instead. The sleep mode doesn’t really shutdown your PC, it just stores whatever open application into the RAM memory and reduces all the computer component to a low power mode. The computer is not shutdown but in a suspended animation mode. That is to say it is not brain dead because the CPU and everything else is just fast asleep, drawing very little power just enough to keep the memory alive (because all your open application is stored there). When you press the power on button, the PC comes on alive almost instantaneously. On laptops, when the situation came to a point where the battery power becomes critically low, it will then relocate the RAM content onto the hard disk and powers off the system.
I however, wouldn’t suggest this sleep mode. If like most people, we would prefer to power down the desktop computer and switch off the main switch. Without power, anything that was stored in the RAM memory would be erased. And what if you have a power failure or perhaps accidentally switch off your main switch to your desktop computer? If you have any open application and WIP documents, that would be oops, oh no! All gone! In addition, on a laptop, it still draws power, which meant that your battery will still drain though ever so slightly according to the help file. Nope, I tried that once and boy was there a lot of power drain.
As for the Hibernate mode, I would say this would be the better option if you wish to continue from where you left off earlier. In this hibernation mode, the current state of your computer plus any of your open applications will be stored on the hard disk. Once all the information was written into the hard disk the PC will switch off. When you switch on your computer, the information will be pulled out from your hard disk and restored to the state which you left it before.
Good point about this is you don’t have to worry if you or somebody pulled out the plug because the computer was already switched off. And you could continue where you have left off though on firing up your PC, it would not be as instantaneous as the Sleep mode, but would still be faster than a normal boot up.
As for the Hybrid mode, as per the name suggest, it is a combination of Sleep and Hibernate mode. In this Hybrid setting, the current state of your computer is both stored in the RAM memory and Hard disk. The idea was that in case the power was cutoff the current state of the computer was still safely stored in the hard disk. You could still boot up and continue from where you left off even if the power was cut off. And with the feature of sleep mode, switching on the computer would give you the near instantaneous continuation from where you left off (on the condition that you didn’t take away its power supply). The bad point was your computer was still running and drawing power and thus on a laptop it will slowly drain the battery and of course on a normal desktop, the power would still has to be supplied thus you still have to pay for the electric bill. Hybrid mode though, is available only for some system only (I didn’t see this option available on my desktop but found it in my Dell laptop).
Of course, it is entirely up to you to decide which mode will suit you best. I think for myself, the best choice would be hibernate mode because it did not draw power and also because I would not be using my computer for an extended period of time in between usage; and of course the full proper shutdown with every application closed properly, which was what I had been using all the time.
Another point to note when your PC go into sleep or hybrid mode, there is a tendency for the LAN connection to break after waking up the computer leaving you without an internet/intranet connection. Apparently the network IP would need to reset or you won’t be able to get a connection. And the only way to do that is to do a reboot. So what is the point to go into sleep/hybrid mode when you still need to reboot to get your connection?
Modifying the power settings
Setting each mode is easy, just go to control panel.
- Click the Power Option icon.
- In the Select a Power Plan, just click the “Change plan settings” on your current preferred plans selection.
- Click the “Change advance power settings” link
- Look for the “Power buttons and lid” in the menu list modify away to whichever is your preferred settings to your heart content
Modifying the “Start Menu power button” will also change the power down button icon function. For example if you prefer the button to shut down instead of going to sleep, just change the setting to shutdown. Beats opening the extended menu and then finding the appropriate shutdown button. Saves yourself two steps to shutdown your computer, eh? Especially in this time and age of the rat race where everything has to be done fast-fast!