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Hibernate/Standby: what’s the difference?

By 19th February 2009 No Comments

When you shut down your Windows PC you usually get the option to Standby, Turn off or Restart, or some other similar combination. We’ve just been activating hibernation on our PCs as we now have a Windows Home Server which needs to wake the PCs nightly for back-up.

Sometimes you also get Hibernate. So what’s the difference, and how can you choose Hibernate when its not on the menu?

Standby is what it sounds like – the PC is still running but everything is turned off that can be turned off – monitor, hard disks off, processor slowed right down. This uses a small amount of current still. Hibernate, by contrast, does actually switch off the PC after saving the current state of the memory to disk. But it takes a bit longer to wake up again.

So if you are only leaving your PC for a short time, Standby will do. But don’t leave it for a long time on Standby. For longer periods Hibernate is better.

Activating Hibernate
If you do not have Hibernate on your shutting-down menu, you need to go to the control panel/settings and choose ‘Power Options’. On this setting there is a tab called ‘Hibernate’. Go there and ensure that hibernation is enabled. If you still can’t see hibernation as an option then hold down shift when you get the shut-down menu. If Hibernate is available it will show up.

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