If you’ve scanned your computer for large files, you’ve almost certainly come across hiberfil.sys. This Windows file is responsible for handling computer hibernation, but what is hibernation even for? Do you need this file, or should you delete hiberfil.sys to save space?
We’ll answer these questions and more as we explore hibernation in Windows 10.
What Is Hibernation?
Hibernation is one of several power options in Windows 10. Shutting down, of course, completely closes out of Windows and makes it safe to unplug your machine. Sleep and hibernation are the other major two choices.
Sleep mode saves your current session to RAM and puts Windows in a low-power state. When you’re ready to resume, you can jump back into action almost instantly right where you left off. This mode is best when you’re taking a short break from using your PC.
Hibernation goes one step further. Instead of storing your session in RAM (which will be lost if your battery dies), hibernation saves it to your hard drive temporarily and then shuts down. With hibernation, you could unplug your desktop for a week, plug it back in, and then resume right where you left off.
Hibernation is a good choice if you don’t plan on using your computer for a long time or need to save your session without worrying about your machine’s battery dying. It’s a good option for laptops, as you can save your state and ensure that it won’t randomly wake up in your bag or something.
But I Don’t Have the Option to Hibernate!
For some reason, Microsoft removed the Hibernate option from the power menu in Windows 10. Because of this, you might not have ever used it and understood what it can do. Thankfully, it’s easy to re-enable.
To do so, open Settings and navigate to System > Power & sleep. Under Related settings, click Additional power settings to open the Power menu of the Control Panel. On the left sidebar, you’ll see a link that says Choose what the power buttons do — click it.
On the resulting menu, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable text so you can make changes. Then check the Hibernate box to enable it on the power menu.
You can uncheck other options here if you like, but there’s no reason to — unless Fast Startup is causing problems.
How to Delete Hiberfil.sys
Windows uses the hiberfil.sys file to store your session during hibernation.
All the programs and files you have open when you enter hibernation have to go somewhere, of course. Depending on how much RAM you have, this could be 10GB or more. If you never use hibernation, you can disable the feature and reclaim that disk space.
Deleting the file itself won’t work because Windows will just re-create it. Instead, you can disable hibernation mode by running one command in the Command Prompt:
- Right-click on the Start Button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
- Enter the following command to disable hibernation:
powercfg -h off
Once you do this, Windows will delete the hiberfil.sys file and you won’t see Hibernate as an option in the power menu anymore. If you want to enable hibernation again later, just open another Admin Command Prompt window and run the reverse command:
powercfg -h on
Viewing the Hibernation File
If you’re not sure everything worked correctly, you can verify the hibernation file is gone by looking for it at the root of your C: drive. C:\hiberfil.sys is its location.
However, you must change a few folder settings before you can see it. Open a File Explorer window and select the View tab, then the Options button. Choose the View tab in the resulting window, then you need to select two options:
- Show hidden files, folders, and drives: Enable this.
- Hide protected operating system files (Recommended): Make sure this box is not checked.
Should You Disable Hibernation, Though?
While it’s easy enough to remove the hibernation file, whether you should or not is another question.
Really, the only reason to disable hibernation and delete hiberfil.sys is to save disk space. If you have a small SSD with only a few gigabytes free, disabling hibernation makes sense if you never use it. You can try plenty of other methods to free up space before getting rid of hibernation, though.
And with larger drives (500GB or more), using 1-5 percent of your disk space for a useful feature isn’t a big deal.
The bane of disk space for all laptops that have their Windows in a small SSD is: hiberfil.sys
Must disable hibernation to delete this file.
— ???????@Sysadmin (@Nuishira) May 20, 2015
Unless you leave your PC on all the time, you should give hibernation a try to see if it works for you before disabling it. There’s no need to close all your programs and shut down at the end of the day when you’re going to open those same apps up the next morning. Hibernation won’t use any extra electricity, and your PC will boot faster than if you had shut it down.
You should also know that if you disable hibernation, the Fast Startup feature won’t work. This feature is supposed to help your computer boot faster by loading some Windows components before you start up. It saves you a few seconds, but it’s also known to cause problems.
Will You Disable Hibernation?
Now you know all about Windows hibernation, how to disable it, and whether it’s a good idea to do so. For most people, we recommend giving hibernation a try and seeing if it saves you some time. If you end up never using it and need the extra disk space, go ahead and disable it, as Fast Startup doesn’t provide a massive benefit anyway.
While it’s safe to remove the hibernation file, you should also know about default Windows files you should never touch.
Do you ever use hibernation on your laptop or desktop? Will you try the hibernation feature or disable it to save some space? Share your thoughts down in the comments!
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