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

Hibernate and standby are ways to save power when you're not using your computer. Each has pros and cons. Hibernation, at least, must be enabled.

I have a 2 year old Dell Latitude on which the hard drive crashed a few weeks ago. I received a new hard drive from Dell and installed Windows XP. Everything works fine, except I have no hibernate function. Is there a step I missed in the XP setup? Standby/Shut Down/Restart etc. all work fine, but Hibernate is not an option.

It's not a step so much as an option that probably just needs to be turned on.

We'll do that, and while we're at it we'll explain the difference between standby and hibernate.

First the setting.

In Control Panel, open Power Options:

Power Options Properties

Click on the Hibernate tab:

Power Options Properties - Hibernate Tab

I'm guessing that Enable Hibernation isn't checked on your machine. Check it, click OK and you should be set. It might require a reboot before taking effect.

"Hibernation writes a complete image of your computer's RAM memory to the hard drive ..."

So what is hibernation anyway? And how does it differ from standby?

Over-simplifying just a bit:

Hibernation writes a complete image of your computer's RAM memory to the hard drive, and then completely powers down your machine. When you reboot after hibernating, the boot loader then simply reloads the memory image into RAM, reinitializes some hardware, and you're good to go.

The key is simply that the entire state of what your machine is doing at any point in time is almost completely contained in your system's RAM. So the theory is that simply saving and restoring your RAM (along with a few other details, perhaps) should be enough to completely save and restore what you were doing across a complete shutdown of your computer.

If you look closely at the second dialog image above, you'll see that it says "Disk space required to hibernate: 2,048 meg." That's the amount of RAM installed in this machine, and thus that's how much space is required to save the RAM on disk. That image, by the way, is written to the hidden file "hiberfil.sys" in the root of your boot drive which is always present to reserve that space if you have hibernation turned on. One way that people free up that disk space is to turn off hibernation.

Standby does not write your RAM memory image to disk. Standby instead turns all your hardware off except your RAM. Thus resuming from standby is often faster than resuming from hibernation, as the memory image does not have to be loaded from disk - it's still in memory.

The downside to standby, of course, is that your machine is not completely off. Some power is still required to maintain RAM. I've also seen some devices, particularly network cards, wake up periodically while on standby.

If the machine's battery drops too low while it's on standby, Windows will either put the machine in hibernate, if that's enabled, or attempt to cleanly shut down so as not to lose any work in progress.

Both standby and hibernate have been problematic at times in the past. Sometimes devices won't come back up properly after one or the other, or sometimes the machine won't resume at all. Standby in particular requires not only Windows support, but cooperation between the computer's BIOS and the various device drivers that may be impacted by a loss or partial loss of power.

The good news it that for the most part, standby and hibernate tend to work relatively well on current computers.

Article C3203 - November 5, 2007 « »

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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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31 Comments
Irving
November 9, 2007 11:11 PM

Is stand-by the same as sleep? My Vista laptop has sleep mode but my XP dekstop has hibernate. Thanks.

Leo A. Notenboom
November 11, 2007 4:34 PM

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Irving: Stand-by and sleep are the same thing, yes.

Leo


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Terry Hollett
November 12, 2007 5:19 AM

I'm one of those users who rearly turn of their computers. In the night time I would just put her on stand-by. I recently bought another computer at a yard sale. Cost me $20 but a great deal- P@-400mhz, 128mb RAM, I had to take some things off my old P2-266 with just 64 mb RAM.

Its a Compaq Deskpro, other than I can't put two hard drives in this case, like I had in my old one, I also lost the ability to place the computer in stand-by because of the video card.

It's a 3D RAGE PRO AGP with 8 MB video memory. I done research on the internet and found others with the same problem but no solution. Even Microsoft acknowledged it has a problem but offered no solution, workaround or patch what-so-ever.

www.geocities.com/terryhollett2003/

Aart Doeland
November 14, 2007 3:20 AM

My problem is, that the 2 tabs ´Advanced´ and ´Hibernate´do not show up. There are only 3 tabs. Result± I can´t use the Hibernate )and Stand/by' functions.

Thank you for all your wonderful - interesting articles!!

Aart

Leo A. Notenboom
November 15, 2007 12:51 PM

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Two things come to mind: you may need to be logged in with administrative
privileges, and possibly the install of windows doesn't realize that your
computer has power management capabilities. Make sure that's enabled in the
BIOS (as is sometimes the case).

Thanks,

Leo


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Sean
December 20, 2007 2:15 PM

I have windows Vista Home Premium (32)on my Asus F3jr laptop. The Hibernate option used to always be present from the start menu but only "Sleep" is presnt and I don't know what happened to the "Hibernate" option. I accessed "Change Advanced Power Settings" in the Power Options dialogue box and selected "Power Buttons and Lid" to see if I could select Hibernate as an option but it didn't exist as an option except for on the main power button. However when I press the main power button it does not go into hibernation but instead just goes into Locked mode. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I have found hiernation to be an excellent way of switching off quickly and then coming back to work that I had left unfinished.

Daniel
January 2, 2008 2:05 PM

I have the same dissapearing hibernation problem. It used to be on my Windows Vista(32) HP laptop but I can't even find a trace of it anywhere. Why?

Tricia
January 3, 2008 12:59 PM

I just reinstalled windows xp after formatting my hard drive on my laptop, and hibernate is no longer an option. There's not even a tab on the power option properties. Any ideas what happened?

Michelle
January 15, 2008 6:52 PM

I am having the exact same problem as Tricia above. I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and I have admin abilities. When I go to 'Turn off computer' I have an option to 'Stand-by', but it is grey-ed out so I can't click it. Why is this?
Thanks!

Leo A. Notenboom
January 20, 2008 4:25 PM

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Your computer must support the ACPI power management
specification. IF your hardware supports it, then you may
also need to enable it in your BIOS.

Leo


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cris
January 22, 2008 10:39 PM

In my Laptop previously I can able to see the Hibernation option in the Start menu for my Vista Home Premium. Last day I observed the option is not there. I could not understand why this has happened? How can I get that option back.

J Dobster
January 27, 2008 1:59 PM

I no longer have a hibernation choice in the control
panel. I think it was wiped out by some Microsoft
updates. Tried some choices offered in their support
section but did not work. What can I do.

Kimberly
February 8, 2008 1:56 PM

where do I locate the BIOS function?

Cristina Nelson
February 27, 2008 8:05 AM

I am having the exact same problem as Tricia above. I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and I have admin abilities. When I go to 'Turn off computer' I have an option to 'Stand-by', but it is grey-ed out so I can't click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?
Thanks!

gina
March 31, 2008 3:31 AM

i have the same problem...i am using vista with my laptop... before i could use the hibernate features and i really love using it because it saves my works and i could just easily go back to it when i turn it on...but then during the easter holiday, i noticed hibernate button is not there anymore...how will i return that feature...hibernate is really helpful...

HW
May 27, 2008 2:50 PM

Same problem - Vista Premium, laptop 3 months old, "hibernate" disappeared a few weeks ago. I'm guessing it's SP1 update. I preferred "hibernate" to "sleep" and want it back.

Danish
June 6, 2008 9:22 AM

I read a lot of your articles, and it was great. But this tips is not working on my laptop IBM R32
I don't know why..

http://windows-tipstricks.blogspot.com/

Brian
June 22, 2008 2:51 AM

Same problem as Tricia. Once in BIOS, what do I (we) need to do to re-enable hibernation. I need my Dell Latitude D620 to be able to hibernate upon closing the laptop. Thanks!

Ladonna Clark
July 8, 2008 7:59 AM

my backspace disappeared so how can I get it back?

james cave
July 29, 2008 3:41 AM

cant hiranate or stand by enabled is checked for hibranate . Also get no sound

Jodie Robinson
September 7, 2008 5:37 AM

My computer Hibernates but instead of switching off it just resets and then boots. Is this because I am running a 32 bit version of Windows on my 64 bit machine?
Ubuntu Linux hibernates fine though.

adelly
September 24, 2008 7:39 AM

I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to 'Turn off computer' I have an option to 'Stand-by' & 'Hibernate', but it is grey-ed out so I can't click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?
Thanks!

nirav
October 14, 2008 8:02 PM

I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to 'Turn off computer' I have an option to 'Stand-by' & 'Hibernate', but it is grey-ed out so I can't click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?

carl
December 21, 2008 6:19 AM

i have vista. power option does not have hibernate tab,or properties opp.

Laura
January 1, 2009 1:32 PM

My computer is doing this too: I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to 'Turn off computer' I have an option to 'Stand-by' & 'Hibernate', but it is grey-ed out so I can't click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?

Posted by: nirav at October 14, 2008 8:02 PM

And i don't have the hibernation tab anymore either it is gone...???

Jerry
July 13, 2009 9:47 PM

No one realy answered the question. The thing is on some machines in the power option you don't get the Hibernation option at all. Why?

Randi Fechter
February 8, 2010 11:40 AM

What do I do if I don't have a hibernate tab in power options? My Dell Inspiron laptop with XP Media crashed and had to do a Windows XP repair to get it back up and running. I don't have a standby or hibernate option any more. Please help.

kmlysek
March 16, 2010 6:53 AM

My Presario 2200 no longer hibernates. It attempts to go into hibernation but then stops and goes back to the screen it was on before I attempted hibernation. Hibernation is activated. I miss being able to use hibernation as it takes a long time to boot. What can I do?

Ndagijimana Rchard
September 4, 2010 11:06 PM

Thank for your help Mr. Leo
It really worked for me.
I could shutdown each time and loose
all my work

mr master
August 13, 2011 9:55 AM

it's possible in some of the situations above (no hibernate option) that your computer doesn't have enough hard drive space to fulfill the hibernate function, e.g., you have 4 GB of RAM but only 3GB of hard drive available

cristie
November 13, 2011 1:34 PM

After destructive reformat of my harddrive, I too had no standby/hibernate options. Computer mfr had a driver listed on the website, but exceeded 95-character name and was rejected by my computer. So I downloaded a driver from the ATI website. The options are now back, However, the monitor now will not awaken from Sleep.....it's ok not to respond to this....I will just go back to the Radeon website and try again.

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