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by JB Burke

Q. I have been using the Windows 7 Hibernate function in order to make shutting down and restarting faster. But sometimes my system doesn't wake up properly, and I have to restart what I was doing anyway. Is there a better way?

A. I've seen reports in the past that Hibernate wasn't always a reliable function. In addition, it takes almost as much time as a full boot, since the system is completely shut down. The way Hibernate works is that Windows saves all of your running program memory and the internal register values to disk, and then does a complete shutdown. Even if the system is unplugged, or your laptop dies, your data is still saved on your hard drive. If Windows works properly, then once you've rebooted you should see exactly what you saw when you Hibernated the system - all the same open programs right where you left them.

The alternative is called Sleep mode, and it's similar to Hibernate but also different. This applies to both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Sleep mode is similar to Hibernate in that it preserves all of your running applications and data, and wakes up just where you left it. However it doesn't write memory to disk and shut down the computer. Instead it leaves everything right where it is and goes into a minimum power state. Memory still has a little power, but the hard drive(s) shut down and very little power is used. When you want to resume computing, whether after a few minutes or all night, just touch the keyboard or the mouse. In a few seconds your system will be back up and running, right where you left it.

Hibernate saves the most power, but may be a tad less reliable. Sleep mode saves a lot of electricity, but not quite as much as Hibernate. Sleep mode wakes much faster than Hibernate, so can be used for short or long periods. Remember - periodically do a full shut down and restart to give Windows an opportunity to install updates and do internal housekeeping.

Published: Courier 5/18/14 - Page 4C