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The Hazards of Hibernate and Other Power States

As you probably know Windows offers three options when leaving your computer- Hibernate, Sleep, and Shut Down.

I have used all three with varying degrees of success. The vast majority of manufacturer power plans automatically put the computer to sleep after a preset length of time, including laptops. I don’t always like this, especially if I am running on battery power which is often as it uses a considerable amount of the battery. I have spent minor fortunes on different types of laptops which purport to allow the laptop to sleep for hours without seriously affecting the battery. So far a total lie. However, I just bought a new tablet/laptop combination which I am still in the process of setting up. I am hopeful this one may actually work for long term battery use. But I’m probably dreaming…

OK, so what is the real difference between hibernate and sleep?

Hibernate. Picture a bear going to sleep for a long time, and then crawling out of his den not totally the worse for wear. You will notice I said not totally. He definitely has a few leaves on him (quirks) and although the state of the computer generally looks the same as where you were before, it isn’t quite.

According to Microsoft “Hibernation is a power-saving state designed primarily for laptops… hibernation puts your open documents and programs on your hard disk, and then turns off your computer.”

Some of the charming things that happen when I hibernate my computer are that wireless internet or even USB cell based internet will have to restart, usually losing any partially played video in my browser. Not only that, but occasionally I get cute error messages informing me that I have more than one device on one computer using the same internet connection. That is not so you know!

Frequently when retuning from hibernation the browser slows down radically. Since I am usually in the middle of multiple research projects with multiple open tabs, this can be very irritating. That means I have to restart the browser along with the multiple tabs. On very rare occasions, an article I am writing suddenly becomes read-only necessitating a copy and paste into a new document. Ugh.

My computer also does not return to its previous state especially quickly, but not as slow as a complete boot-up. Nevertheless, if I have to restart my browser, reset the cell modem, and redo a document or two, the complete boot-up may be less frustrating. Besides I can go for a short walk while it boots!

So what is a good use for hibernate? Most battery backups will allow you to choose what to do when your computer is running on them when the power goes out and you are not there. Hibernate is an excellent choice because no matter how quirky, it will save what you were working on.

What about sleep? The computer sleeping is like the bear taking a short nap in the sunshine.

MS defines sleep as “a power-saving state that allows a computer to quickly resume full-power operation (typically within several seconds) when you want to start working again. Putting your computer into the sleep state is like pausing a DVD player: The computer immediately stops what it’s doing and is ready to start again when you want to resume working.” This is an exact description. You know that if you leave your DVD on pause for a longer period of time, it won’t always play when you push the button. Your computer will do this frequently too.

If your best pal calls you when your computer puts itself to sleep, and you go running out the door for a meeting, or something else happens requiring your immediate attention, you may lose at least some of the work you have done. That is because if you are gone too long and the computer won’t come out of sleep you will have to brute force a shutdown and restart the computer. No fun.

For further tips, please visit ZookaWare on Twitter.

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