Difference Between Sleep, Hibernate and Hybrid Sleep

Different users treat their machines differently. You may have heard others say that they put their PC’s to sleep or hibernate. Others opt for the typical power off. How different are those low power mode options?

What is Sleep, Hibernate, and Hybrid Sleep?

There are several options for those users who choose to put their Windows computer in low power mode.

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Sleep is probably the most popular, aside from the Shut Down option. It is a power saving state that “pauses” your computer. Your computer preserves its current state.


Imagine pausing a movie during playback. All processes on the computer are “paused”. RAM Memory stores all the active or open programs. At this point, the computer goes into a low power state.


Technically, the machine is still on. However, it uses very little power to maintain the memory. Remember that the memory or RAM is volatile. It needs the power to retain data.


The apparent advantage of using Sleep mode is that Bootup is faster than usual. You can resume what you were doing in just a few seconds. That is possible because RAM fetches data faster than a hard drive.


Hibernate is very similar to sleep. However, instead of saving all open programs in RAM, it keeps all active data on the hard drive. Unlike RAM, hard drives are non-volatile. That means, the computer can virtually turn itself off.


However, it takes longer to start back up. It is because your computer reads data from the hard drive. Boot up depends on the speed of the hard drive and the amount of active data. It can take a few seconds up to few minutes. However, current SSDs are faster, and the difference is not noticeable.

Hybrid Sleep

Hybrid Sleep is a combination of Sleep and Hibernate. It was introduced to Windows Vista back in 2007. Hybrid Sleep attempts to combine the benefits of hibernate and sleep.


It is typically disabled on most Windows systems. When enabled, it writes current data to hard drive, just like Hibernate. At the same time, it maintains low levels of power to the memory, just like Sleep.


It allows quick boot up as active data is also present in RAM. However, in case of power failure, the computer can access the active data from the hard drive. It allows the user to still boot up from the last active state, albeit a bit slower.

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When should you use Sleep, Hibernate, and Hybrid Sleep

When to use Sleep?

Sleep is beneficial if you will be away for a small period. This mode can save electricity and battery power in case of laptops. However, this is most beneficial to those using a desktop PC. RAM requires constant power to maintain the saved data. The data is gone if you lose the electricity connection. That means laptops that run out of battery while in Sleep mode will lose all the opened programs in memory.


In short, for laptop users, sleep is excellent for a short amount of time only. For desktop users, it is beneficial even for a more extended amount of time as long as there is a constant supply of electricity.

When to use Hibernate?

Hibernate saves more power than sleep. It is excellent if you are stepping away from your computer for a long time. You can save electricity and battery charge if you set your computer to hibernate. You may have to wait a little longer as compared to booting from Sleep. Many users advocate putting PCs on Hibernate instead of Sleep. This is because hibernate takes less time as it preserves active data from the last boot.


Hibernate is beneficial for laptop users especially if you are planning to step away for extended periods of time. It might not be as fast as booting up from sleep. However, it is faster than starting up your laptop from total shut down.

When to use Hybrid Sleep?

Hybrid Sleep is primarily available on desktops. It means most laptops won’t have this option. It is best when there is a case of power outage. Since desktops do not have batteries, Windows need a way to access active data when memory is not accessible.

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How to Configure Sleep Modes?

Sleep, Shut Down, and Hibernate is readily available when you click on the Power options.

However, there are a few steps to do when you want to enable Hybrid Sleep. Similarly, you can also customize what your power button does. You can also set which low power mode to activate.

Enable Hybrid Sleep

To enable Hybrid Sleep, go to Control Panel.

Click System and Security.

Choose Power Options.

Under Choose or customize a power plan, click Change plan settings. You can find it on the right side of the currently selected power plan.

On the Change settings for the plan, click Change advanced power settings at the bottom.

On the Power Options dialog box, click Change settings that are currently unavailable.

Click the plus sign next to Sleep. The window expands to further options. Click the plus sign next to Allow Hybrid Sleep. Select Off on both the options and choose On on the drop down.

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Customizing your Power Button and Laptop Lid

To customize the functions of the power button and the laptop lid, follow these steps.


Hit Windows button and R to open the run box. Alternatively, you can search “Run” as well. On the Run box, type “powercfg.cpl” then hit Enter.

This command will open the Power Options window. Click Choose what power buttons do on the left-hand side.

Under System Settings window, you can choose which function takes effect when you press the power button. You can also set the functions when you close the lid in this window. Click Save changes.

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Final Thoughts

Whether you choose Sleep, Hibernate, Hybrid Sleep, or Shut Down, it depends on your machine and your workflow. Windows PC may need to shut down sometimes during updates or driver installation. Additionally, take note of your machine’s hardware, especially the battery, and what to do to make them last longer. Also, check how to further customize the Hibernation behavior of your computer.

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