Is Hibernate Mode Bad for Your PC?
The Hibernate feature on Windows was designed for laptops as an alternative to Sleep. Although it’s a little slower to awaken your laptop compared to Sleep, it uses less power and your PC starts up faster compared to a full boot up. However, hibernate has always been the talk of the town for being a drag on computer storage.
So, is hibernate mode bad for your PC? Here we take a deeper look at the best practices and if the hibernate mode is detrimental to your PC’s longevity.
What Is Hibernate Mode and How Does It Work?
Hibernate is a power management mode available in Windows computers. Users can configure the system to hibernate in an idle state to conserve power while significantly reducing the start-up time.
When hibernating, the PC saves all the active sessions from your RAM memory to the boot drive and shuts down the system. When you turn on the computer, it restores the data from the boot drive to the RAM again as if you never power off your PC.
In sleep mode, the computer saves all the active sessions to RAM and goes into a power-saver mode, but it still needs to draw some power to keep the data on the RAM alive. Hibernate, on the other hand, shuts down your PC and draws no more power.
It is an extremely convenient feature for those who spend most of their time sitting in front of their computer. You can simply close the laptop lid with the apps still running, pack up your PC and go home. When you power on your PC again, it restores your last sessions from the Hiberfil.sys file. You don’t need to sit through the boot process or manually launch your apps again.
Hibernate is also really handy if you’re away from home and know you won’t have access to a power source for a long time. By putting your laptop into hibernate mode, you can keep it that way for hours, days, or even weeks until you find a mains socket. Once you find one, you can plug in your laptop, open the lid, and everything is right where you left it.
Windows laptops, by default, are configured to sleep when you press the power button or close the lid. However, you can change these actions to hibernate instead in the Power Options settings.
How to Turn On Hibernate Mode on Your Windows PC
Depending on your laptop’s configuration, the hibernate feature may be disabled on your computer. Go to Start > Power and check if the Hibernate option appears alongside Restart, Shutdown, and Sleep.
If not, here is how to enable Hibernate on your Windows computer.
- Press Win + R to open the Run box.
- Type control and click OK to open the Control Panel.
- In the Control Panel, go to System and Security.
- Next, open Power Options.
- In the left pane, click on Choose what the power button does.
- Click on Change settings that are currently unavailable.
- Under the Shutdown settings section, select the Hibernate option to turn it on.
- Click Save changes.
Additionally, you can set your laptop to automatically hibernate after a set amount of time. To do this, open Control Panel, and go to System and Security > Power Options; in the left pane, click on Choose when the computer sleeps. Next, click on Change advanced power settings.
In the pop-up window, expand the Sleep section. Then, expand Hibernate After and set a time for on Battery and Plugged-in options. That said, for shorter breaks, it is better to let PC sleep than hibernate.
If the Power option in Control Panel is missing the Hibernate option, you can enable it using the Command Prompt.
To enable Hibernate using command prompt:
- Type cmd in Windows search.
- Right-click on Command Prompt and select Run as administrator.
In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and hit enter:
Powercfg.exe /hibernate on
- Now go to the Power option in Control Panel and enable Hibernate.
What Is the Impact of Using Hibernate on Your PC?
The most common argument against using hibernate has been the wear and tear of the mechanical hard disk due to frequent shutdown and start-up. The truth is, modern mechanical drives are much more resilient in this regard and unlikely to have any major issues due to hibernation. On SSDs, this problem is even less common.
Hibernate also reserves a chunk of storage space on the boot drive. The hiberfil.sys file uses it to save the PC’s current state and then restore it when powered on. The amount of storage reserved is usually equal to the amount of RAM available on your system. If you have limited storage space, then you can delete the hiberfil.sys file to free up some space.
To disable hibernate:
- Open the open Command Prompt as administrator.
Next, type the following command and hit enter:
powercfg.exe /hibernate off
- This will turn off hibernate and delete the file, freeing the reserved storage space.
Waking up from hibernate is usually slower than sleep. Even on an SSD drive, it will take a few seconds more than sleep to power on the system after hibernating. However, this trade-off allows you to significantly reduce battery drain without losing your active sessions.
When to Use Hibernate
Consider using hibernation when you are taking a long break, let’s say for a few hours or more, but don’t want to shut down your PC and close open apps. For brief breaks, use sleep and shut down if you will not use your computer for a few days. The use case varies based on users; however, the bottom line is, the hibernate mode is safe to use.
That said, a proper shutdown periodically helps your computer clear RAM and free up resources to optimize performance. It can also help you reduce power consumption and protect your system against power surges.
The claim that Hibernate Mode does damage l to a mechanical hard disk’s life span isn’t exactly a myth, but instead a misinterpretation of how the power cycle works. Hibernate will have the same effect on your mechanical hard drive as a regular shutdown or restart. Although it performs a huge round of writes when you go into and come out of hibernation, its effect on your storage drive’s life cycle is minimal.
To Hibernate or Not to Hibernate?
Hibernate is a handy feature. Not because it reduces the boot time, but because it saves your active sessions. With this, you can power off your system and then get back to where you left off without having to restart everything from scratch. Extremely useful for people who use multiple sets of tools repeatedly every day extensively. It is a safe, clean, and controlled shutdown.
That said, make sure to perform a complete restart now and then to prevent issues related to pending updates, unnecessary cache build-up, and resource management.
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About The Author
(49 Articles Published)
Tashreef is a technology writer at MakeUseOf. With a bachelor’s degree in Computer Applications, He has over 5 years of writing experience and covers Microsoft Windows and everything around it. When not working, you can find him tinkering with his PC, trying some FPS titles or explore animated shows and movies.
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November 20, 2021 at 10:17AM