Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Sleep, Hibernation, Logging Off & Locking - What is the Difference?

At the end of the day, or anytime we walk away from our laptops for an extended period of time, it sometimes makes sense to force them into a specific power mode rather than shutting them down. The following are good examples of when utilizing power modes makes sense: if you are disembarking a plane, moving from one office space to another, or need quick access to open programs without wasting battery life while waiting for the default power management settings to kick in.

With so many options, sleep, hibernation, logging off and locking the display, it can be challenging to keep track of what the differences are and when to use each one.

Differences between Sleep, Hibernation, Logging Off & Locking a Device


Putting a device to Sleep lowers the power consumption of the device when compared to normal usage or simply waiting for power management to activate. Devices go to Sleep relatively quickly as open programs, including documents, remain open when a device enters Sleep mode. When resuming from Sleep, the login screen is displayed within seconds and the desktop appears exactly as it did when it was put to sleep.

When a device is in Sleep mode, whether it is a computer or laptop, it is still using power. Be aware of how long it is left in Sleep if it will be used again later without the charger. Leaving a device in Sleep mode can eventually run a battery down to nothing if left in this mode long enough. How long a battery will last in sleep mode varies depending on battery capacity, time spent in Sleep mode, and battery charge when the device is put into Sleep mode.


Putting a device into Hibernation lowers the power consumption of the device compared to normal usage and uses less power than Sleep mode. When a devices goes into Hibernation mode all open programs and documents remain open but all items in RAM are written to disk. This means devices going into and resuming from Hibernation mode take longer to execute than devices entering Sleep mode. 

When items in RAM are written into disk, unsaved documents are saved as temporary files that can usually be recovered from if something happens to any unsaved documents. Another benefit to using Hibernation over Sleep mode, although Hibernation takes longer to enter and resume from, is that Hibernation is far more power efficient and a device can remain in Hibernation much longer than in Sleep before running the battery out.

Logging Off / Sign Off

Logging off of a device closes all open programs and leaves the device running normally. Logging off does not reduce the power consumption until power management settings are applied via their normal schedule. To check what the power management settings are on any Windows device, go to Control Panel and select "Power Settings". Click the "Change Plan Settings" link next to the currently selected option to view and modify all power settings. NOTE: In Windows 10, logging off is called signing off, which is located by clicking on the name of the user logged in at the top of the Windows start menu.


Locking a device is similar to using Sleep or Hibernation mode because locking a device allows all open programs and documents to remain open. However, locking a device is also similar to logging off because unlike Sleep and Hibernation mode, it does not reduce the power consumption in any way. Power consumption is only reduced when the power management settings are applied per their normal schedule.

Locking a device is most helpful when walking away from a device for a short period of time. This prevents wasted time closing and reopening programs while protecting the integrity of the data on the device by requiring a login. This is important even if only walking away for a few minutes. NOTE: Prior to Windows 10, locking is available under the Shut Down pop-out menu. In Windows 10, locking is located by clicking on the name of the user logged in at the top of the Windows button menu. Locking the display can most easily be accomplished on any Windows device by pressing the Windows + L key at the same time. For more keyboard shortcuts check out these posts: 8 Easy & Time Saving Keyboard Shortcuts AND Keyboard Shortcuts for Everyday Use.

With the introduction of solid state drives, or SSD's, both sleep and hibernation mode have become less commonly used ways for quickly restoring a desktop. Shutting down and restarting a device with an SSD can be accomplished in mere seconds, however, there are times when Sleep, Hibernation and Locking make sense and save time. The ability to leave programs and documents open instead of closing them only to reopen them hours later is a luxury we have with desktop computers and can also be accomplished with devices running on batteries. 

As always, there are many many ways to accomplish the same thing, albeit with slight differences. Often times these slight differences amount to all the difference in the world!

Enjoy this post? Subscribe to our Blog

No comments:

Post a Comment