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Hibernate is a fast way to turn a computer on and off. On many computers, it works reliably.

I often turn my computer off and on daily. I use the hibernate function always. Is this in any way possible to harm it? I'm aware of the slight power use, but hibernate really speeds things up. I use Windows XP and run on Verizon DSL. I've never had any problems.

In this excerpt from Answercast #18, I talk about hibernate as a safe alternative to shutting off a computer and why I don't choose to use it.

I've never had any problems?

And I wouldn't expect you to. Hibernate is totally safe when it works for you and clearly, it works reliably for you. If it's working faster for you than rebooting the machine, I really don't see a problem.

It's not something I would ever expect to damage your machine in any way.

Hibernation power use

Having said, that I do want to clarify one thing: "I'm aware of a slight power use."

No. Hibernate does not use any power. Hibernate literally turns your machine off completely.

That is in contrast to standby. Standby is the one that actually uses a little bit of power to keep RAM loaded. Hibernate writes all of your RAM to disk. Standby keeps all of the RAM in RAM by using a little bit of power to keep it in RAM.

If they work reliably for you, I really don't see an issue. I would encourage you to continue doing what you're doing.

Why I use Shut Down

Personally, I don't really like either. That's typically not so much because they are dangerous in any way. It's just that in my experience (on my computers), they have been unreliable to one degree or another. Either I can't reliably come back from hibernate or I can't reliable come back from standby.

So, I just trained myself to always turn the machine off completely anyway.

But if it's working and working reliably for you (and it sounds like it is), keep on hibernating!

Article C5353 - May 17, 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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4 Comments
cruelas
May 17, 2012 7:32 PM

Sometimes the power goes out in my home when my computer is HIBERNATING, and I worry about damage/loss/wear because I hadn't properly shut down the computer. Since it says above that, "Hibernate literally turns your machine off completely," does that mean that I shouldn't worry about this situation because a hibernating computer is just like a computer that was shut down, in this case?
I like to shut down my computer every night, so sometimes I "wake" it from hibernating so I can shut it down and switch off the surge protector...now I'm thinking this is a waste of time :).

Mark J
May 17, 2012 10:52 PM

@Cruelas
"Hibernate literally turns your machine off completely," means that the power is turned completely off on your computer exactly the same as if you shut it down normally. There is no greater risk of damage with hibernation than there would be with a complete shutdown. Hibernation essentially copies the contents of your RAM to the hard drive and completely shuts the computer off. Then on wake up, instead of the normal start-up procedure, it copies the contents from the hibernation file back into RAM.

bholland
May 18, 2012 9:27 AM

The only question I have on this subject is how does hibernate deal with garbage collection. I'm sure that when you perform a complete shut-down, everything is reset and cleared when restarted. Does hibernate do anything similar?

Nope.
Leo
18-May-2012
Dan
May 18, 2012 1:01 PM

All programs are not perfect. Sometimes when you close a program it doesn't give back all memory. Not as bad as it used to be a few window releases back, but it still can happen. Hibernation isn't a bad thing, but I would recommend rebooting once in a while (desktop I reboot once a week, server - once a month - sometimes longer). Here at work I reboot because changes made to bootup batchfiles to fix intranet problems only run on reboot. For those that want to know what I mean about memory problems, look up [memory leaks].

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