Sleep, Hibernate, or Shutdown? What’s the difference, and which one should you prefer?

Shaant Minhas

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We all have to turn off our computers eventually. Interestingly, however, there are a lot of ways to do that. Microsoft has given you three different modes to manage your computer: Sleep, Hibernate and Shutdown. While all of them are used to shut off the computer, they all have different specialities. Let’s learn how.

Sleep, Hibernate, or Shutdown

There are three major ways to turn off your PC. Let’s start first with Sleep. 


When you want to move away from your PC for only a little while, say, to get a snack from the nearby store or to do some miscellaneous task, Sleep is the best way to turn off your PC.

When you turn your PC back on, it will resume from where you left it. This is helpful if you would rather not begin all your work from the ground up again. But make sure that before you leave, you’ve saved all your critical work—this will protect your data in case there’s some problem is waking up your PC from sleep.

The only downside of using Sleep is that it’s the least power-efficient method to turn off your PC. To put your PC to sleep, click on the Start button, select the Power button and choose Sleep.

windows sleep


Hibernate is the more intense version of Sleep. It’s almost the same as Sleep and helps you resume your work from where you left it off. However, the only place it differs from it is that Hibernate consumes much less power than Sleep.

This, then, naturally results in your PC taking much more time to wake up than it would in the case of Sleep. 

To hibernate your PC, follow the steps below:

  1. Go to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘control panel,’ and select the best match.
  2. From there, select System and Security.
  3. Click on Change what the power buttons do.
  4. Now, select Change settings that are currently unavailable.
  5. From the Shutdown settings, select Hibernate checkbox.
  6. Click on Save changes.

system settings

So, we’ve successfully enabled the Hibernate option in your PC. To get started, follow the steps below:

  1. Head to Start, and select Power > Hibernate.
  2. Then press Windows key and logo and select Shut down or sign out > Hibernate.

hibernate option


And, last but not the least, we’ve the Shutdown option. You should only use the Shutdown when you’re done with your work, have everything saved up, and you’re positive you won’t be needing to use your PC until the next day at a least.

Suffice it to say, Shutdown is the most power efficient of the three shutting down methods, but, as a result, it also takes longer to boot up your PC again.

To shut down your PC, simply head to the Start button, and select Power > Turn off.  

windows shutdown

That’s it. Do this and your computer will be Shutdown.

Sleep vs Hibernate vs Shutdown: Which is the best?

So, there you’ve it: Sleep, Hibernate and Shutdown are your only options to choose from when you’re looking to shut down your PC. What you’ll pick will depend on how long you’ve to stay away from your PC, and in case you’ve a laptop, the battery power you’re left with.