Is there a downside to hibernating a computer instead of shutting down?

Ben June 20, 2012
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Is there a downside to hibernating a laptop or computer instead of shutting down?

  1. Paul Pruitt
    June 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    Having hibernation on takes up a lot of space, especially if say you are running your operating system from a 64GB SSD hard drive. I don't think it is worth it in that case.

    If another poster says is true and you have 8 B of memory than you might have a 9 GB hibernation file. Since a 64 GB SSD drive fills up pretty fast with Windows 7 even if you only store programs on it, the extra space could be a real plus. Maybe not so much on a laptop where usually they give you at least 128 GB hard if you have an SSD, however with a desktop and an SSD, I think it is best to remove the default hibernation file service. This page explains how to do it correctly:

    I did it on my Windows 7 desktop running from a 64 GB SSD. I was down to 4 GB of space until got rid of it, then my space bumped up to like 14 GB which is much better breathing room.

    • Paul Pruitt
      July 9, 2012 at 3:36 pm

      Actually the article gets it wrong, "powercfg –h off" without the quotes will not turn off hibernation, the correct command is: "POWERCFG -H OFF" without the quotes again. The capitalization is important.

      Note you may in addition have to turn off the the On battery sleep parameter (but probably not the "Plugged in" option) in the Advanced Power settings, as indicated. Its not really clear from the article whether this option disappears after the command line change above.

      • Paul Pruitt
        December 20, 2012 at 9:56 pm

        You might have to start CMD in administrative mode to do this.

    • Paul Pruitt
      July 9, 2012 at 3:41 pm

      Yes I did check this and in my Windows 7 Pro installation both sleep setting choice fields disappeared.

  2. Kannon Y
    June 23, 2012 at 5:39 am

    That's a great question. In my opinion, we're better off without hibernate on laptops. It's too unreliable and takes up too much space.

    There are several kinds of risk that you incur by hibernating a computer, but it largely depends on two factors: (1) the technology you're using and (2) whether you're using a laptop or a desktop.

    First, if you're using a Solid State Drive, you should most definitely turn hibernation and hybrid sleep off. There's virtually no need to speed up your shut down or start up times, since SSDs make it extremely fast anyway. Also, hibernation dramatically increases the amount of writes made to your drive, which is heavily discouraged on an SSD.

    Second, in a laptop, where space comes at a premium, users should consider simply turning the laptop off entirely, rather than using the notoriously unreliable hibernation feature. It's a frequent issue that laptops run out of storage space quickly. On a modern laptop, frequently the hibernate file can take (as Bruce wrote) up about 8GB of hard drive space. If you turn hibernate off, that's 8GB extra one can dedicate to other areas.

    Another major issue is that if the hibernation file becomes corrupted, you will lose everything unsaved. It's a bad practice to rely on hibernate mode as a means of saving data. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Rickesh John
    June 21, 2012 at 12:30 pm

    New operating systems manage memory more efficiently than the older ones. So it won't seem to be a problem at first. Still, prolonged use of hibernation will make your PC slower. It is recommended that you should perform a restart when about to perform a heavy task on your system, like playing a game.

  4. Mayur Godhani
    June 21, 2012 at 6:50 am

    Its better to turn off computer/laptop, I never owned a laptop before, but as my experience on computer since last 7 years, whenever you hibernate your PC its disconnect an internet and LAN networks.
    If your PC act as server, then it might bring problems on computers that are connect with server.

  5. shaurya boogie
    June 21, 2012 at 4:52 am

    hibernation will cause no problems whatsoever - however, if you are using windows xp sp2, and have more than 1gb of ram, your system's hiberation will be hit and miss unless you down load an update

  6. Munish Gupta
    June 21, 2012 at 4:28 am

    Also, when you restart after hibernation. it will typically take lot longer (depending upon the application running) to boot up.

  7. Nick Bruce
    June 21, 2012 at 4:25 am

    Ultimately, there isn't much of an effect on the system in terms of physical wear, but it doesn't do the system any favors from a software standpoint.

    As mentioned by Bumferry, updates are often installed during the shutdown and startup processes, both of which are skipped by Hibernation.

    Also, call me old-fashioned, but there's nothing quite as good for an overworked PC as being turned off for a night.

  8. Bumferry
    June 20, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    For the short term no i dont think there is. I often put my laptop into hibernation overnight for easy access the next day (or when ever i use it next) but its probably best to turn off your computer fully, every once in a while to allow things like updates to take full effect as well as giving your fan/battery a break as well.

    i dont - and now my fan is knackered (see previous questions by me!!)

  9. Jorge Bascur
    June 20, 2012 at 9:01 pm

    A fraction of drive space is reserved for saving the state of your system during hibernation. Usually, is about 2-3 GB. Not much considering that hard drives now reach 2TB, but in older drives it can be a strain.

    • Bruce Epper
      June 21, 2012 at 4:24 am

      The amount of drive space consumed is slightly greater than the amount of RAM in the computer. So if you have 8GB of RAM, it will use just over 8GB of drive space since it dumps the entire contents of RAM to the disk so it can recover the same state.

      • lion
        August 13, 2012 at 6:25 am

        Interestingly, when I had 8 Gb RAM, the hiberfil file was about 6 Gb. Now that I have 16 Gb RAM, it is exactly 12 884 250 624 bytes (11.9 Gb reported in file properties).
        However, the pagefile, managed by windows, is 17 179 004 928 (15.9 Gb). I have windows 7 professional 64 bit.

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