What’s the Difference Between Sleep and Hibernate in Windows?

Windows provides several options for conserving power when you are not using your PC. These options include Sleep, Hibernate, and Hybrid Sleep, and are particularly useful if you have a laptop. Here’s the difference between them.

Sleep Mode

Sleep mode is a power saving state that is similar to pausing a DVD movie. All actions on the computer are stopped, any open documents and applications are put in memory while the computer goes into a low-power state. The computer technically stays on, but only uses a bit of power. You can quickly resume normal, full-power operation within a few seconds. Sleep mode is basically the same thing as “Standby” mode.

Sleep mode is useful if you want to stop working for a short period of time. The computer doesn’t use much power in Sleep mode, but it does use some.

Hibernate

Hibernate mode is very similar to sleep, but instead of saving your open documents and running applications to your RAM, it saves them to your hard disk. This allows your computer to turn off entirely, which means once your computer is in Hibernate mode, it uses zero power. Once the computer is powered back on, it will resume everything where you left off. It just takes a bit longer to resume than sleep mode does (though with an SSD, the difference isn’t as noticeable as it is with traditional hard drives).

Use this mode if you won’t be using your laptop for an extended period of time, and you don’t want to close your documents.

Hybrid Sleep

Hybrid Sleep mode is a combination of the Sleep and Hibernate modes meant for desktop computers. It puts any open documents and applications in memory and on your hard disk, and then puts your computer into a low-power state, allowing you to quickly wake the computer and resume your work. The Hybrid Sleep mode is enabled by default in Windows on desktop computers and disabled on laptops. When enabled, it automatically puts your computer into Hybrid Sleep mode when you put it into Sleep mode.

Hybrid Sleep mode is useful for desktop computers in case of a power outage. When power resumes, Windows can restore your work from the hard disk, if the memory is not accessible.

How to Put Your Computer In Sleep or Hibernation Mode

In Windows 10, the Hibernate and Sleep options are accessed using the Power button on the Start menu.

If you don’t see the Sleep option or the Hibernate option, it may be for one of the following reasons:

  • Your video card may not support Sleep mode. Refer to the documentation for your video card. You can also update the driver.
  • If you don’t have administrative access on the computer, you may have to refer to the administrator to change the option.
  • The power-saving modes in Windows are turned on and off in your computer’s BIOS (basic input/output system). To turn on these modes, restart your computer and then enter the BIOS setup program. The key for accessing BIOS differs for each computer manufacturer. Instructions for accessing BIOS generally displays on the screen as the computer boots. For more information, see your computer’s documentation or check the website for your computer’s manufacturer.
  • If you don’t see the Hibernate option in Windows 7, it’s likely because Hybrid Sleep is enabled instead. We will explain how to enable and disable the Hybrid Sleep mode later in this article.
  • If you don’t see the Hibernate option in Windows 8 or 10, it’s because it’s hidden by default.

How to Wake Your Computer from Sleep or Hibernation

Most computers can be woken up by pressing the power button. However, every computer is different. You might need to press a key on the keyboard, click a mouse button, or lift the laptop’s lid. Refer to your computer’s documentation or the manufacturer’s website for information about waking it from a power-saving state.

How to Enable and Disable the Hybrid Sleep Option

To enable or disable the Hybrid Sleep Option, open the Control Panel. To do this in Windows 10, click the Search icon on the Taskbar, type control panel, and then click “Control Panel” in the search results.

There are different ways of viewing and accessing the tools in the Control Panel. By default, the Control Panel settings are grouped by Category. From the Category view, click “System and Security”.

Then, click “Power Options” on the System and Security screen.

On the Choose or customize a power plan screen, click the “Change plan settings” link to the right of the currently selected power plan (either Balanced or Power saver).

NOTE: You can change the Hybrid Sleep option for either one or both of the power plans. The steps are the same for both.

How to Prevent Your Computer from Automatically Sleeping or Hibernating

You can also change the amount of time before your computer goes into sleep or hibernate mode, or turn off each mode completely. Here’s how to do this.

NOTE: If you are using a battery-powered laptop, be careful when changing the time before your computer goes into sleep or hibernate mode, or when turning off the sleep or hibernate mode completely. If the battery dies when you’re in the middle of working on the computer, you can lose data.

If the Power Options dialog box is not currently open, open it as discussed above.

Double-click on the “Sleep” heading, and then double-click on “Sleep After”. If you’re using a laptop, click “On Battery” or “Plugged In” to activate the edit box. Click the down arrow until “Never” is selected. You can also type a 0 into the edit box, which is the equivalent of “Never”.

If you’re using a desktop computer, click Setting, and click the down arrow until “Never” is selected.

You can do the same for the “Hibernate After” heading.