Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Hibernate and standby vs. rebooting to start your computer is pretty much equal. It all has a slight wear and tear on your machine's hardware and software.

I just re-read your comment, "Is it ok to use hibernate to shut down my computer daily?" and in that you stated, "It's just that my experience on my computers, they have been unreliable." Meaning both standby and hibernate. Two questions: were they both unreliable in Windows 7 or Windows XP? In my experience, hibernation was very unreliable in Windows XP, however, in Windows 7 on my new Dell PC, it works really well. It would seem reasonable to conclude that waking a PC from hibernation is less stressful on a PC than starting a PC from a complete shut down. What do you think?

In this excerpt from Answercast #76, I look at the wear and tear on a computer when bringing it back from a complete shut down versus standby or hibernation.

Hibernate and standby vs. rebooting

So I want to be clear. I did say it was experience and I certainly heard from people who (much like yourself) have had computers where hibernation and standby work - and work well and work reliably.

Fantastic. Good for you!

I'm gonna to choose not to rely on it, because I've simply seen too many different computers where it doesn't necessarily work reliably. If you've got one that does, go for it. More power to you.

Hibernate on different operating systems

So, it's not so much a matter of XP versus 7 - although I do absolutely believe that the process was improved between those versions of the operating system. In your case, what's probably more a cause of the improvement is the fact that you've got a new computer.

Hibernation and standby both rely on some functionality in your computer's BIOS. The BIOS in fact was the result of much of the instability in the early instances of standby and hibernation on older computers.

In newer computers, those kinds of issues have kind of, sort of been worked out. So I think the combination of hardware that's supporting it better and operating systems that are also supporting it better lead to more reliable hibernation and standby.

Like I said, I personally choose not to rely on it - but that's just me. That's just the way I think.

Wear and tear on the computer

Now, I want to address that second point because, in reality, that reflects kind of a misunderstanding of exactly what's going on.

Hibernation and standby and powering on? As far as I'm concerned, they all have the equivalent amount of "stress" on a computer. It's the same amount of stress as you would have running the computer for however long the "resume" from hibernation takes.

So by that, what I mean is your computer is working at something when it's running, when you're doing something with it. Well, for however long it takes your computer to wake up from power on, from hibernation, or from standby - all it's really doing is "computing." Pretty much like what it's doing when you're using it normally.

So, there really isn't a whole lot of difference in terms of impact on your machine. They're very different in terms of exactly how they restore the state of your machine. But ultimately, in terms of the wear and tear of your hardware or on the software, there's really no practical difference between the three.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Next from Answercast 76 - Does "Do not track" work?

Article C6107 - December 6, 2012 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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5 Comments
Maurice Lampl
December 7, 2012 8:23 AM

I prefer to shut down my computer completely and turn off the modem and reduce the chances of malware, spyware and hackers from attempting to enter my computer during the night while I am abed, sleeping.... No telling what improvements these evil-doers can come up with by the time you wake up the next morning and fire up your computer again for the day...

nick
December 8, 2012 3:37 AM

comments on HIBERNATE
Hibernate is a godsend.
newer machines have good reliability with this.
you have all your stuff loaded up (but still make sure you save documents, etc), put machine in hibernate (you can then shut off if desired,e tc)
turn it on next day, and all your stuff comes up preloaded (microsoft word, excel, etc).

BUT, just recently, i got an SSD hard drive for my computer. The startup speed is AMAZING.
SO, hibernate was used before because it allowed stuff to come up easier; but with the SSD, my boot up time for NEW START has been dramatically decresed, so that even if I start up with cold boot, it takes me only 90 seconds to go from BOOTUP to fully operational.
AND, AVG just did a virus scan, first one since I istalled the SSD drive - it was done in less than 5 minutes !

so, the benefits of hibernate, to me, are becoming minimal, since I can rapidly boot up the machine with the SSD drive.

John Niessen
December 8, 2012 5:50 PM

I have windows XP with 80G hard drive and I use standby all the time and my HD does virtually no work after I switch on and all my background programs like Anti Virus, widgets, Firewall, mail program, etc are all there and ready. When I boot up after shutdown my HD is working full time for about 4 or 5 minutes to get everything up and running again.

Ken in San Jose
December 8, 2012 9:51 PM

I think Leo, or some other computer wizard, once cautioned that while running computer software can acquire minor errors, or memory leaks, or something not good. By using standby or hibernate these bad things just pass on and on. By restarting the computer these bad things are done away with and you start with a clean system. Maybe Leo can explain this better than I just did?


Mark J
December 9, 2012 6:42 AM

Hibernate is great when it works, and I've had it work well on my last 3 laptops. It didn't work on my machine previous to those.

It seems like hibernation has improved in the more recent versions of Windows and hardware. Since hibernation is also dependent on the hardware or at least the BIOS, it's possible it still may not work correctly on all machines. If hibernation seems like it would be useful to you, my suggestion isbe to try it out.

I only shut my computer down completely when an update requires it. When I wake my computer from hibernation it only takes about 15-20 sec, whereas a restart can take a few minutes. It my not have much impact on the computer, but it has a big impact on my time.

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