Opening the ‘shut down’ tab in Windows 7 reveals several different options. You can restart your computer, hibernate, sleep, or shut it down completely. At this point, you may be thinking “Wait. What’s the difference between sleeping and hibernating in Windows 7? Today, we’re going to answer that question.

Hibernate mode

When your computer is hibernating, all open applications and documents are closed and your computer shuts off completely. However, before doing that, it saves these applications to your hard drive, meaning that they open back up once you restart your computer.

The hibernate mode is ideal for laptop users. Once your laptop is hibernating, it doesn’t drain any battery power, but your applications are still there waiting for you to return. While it usually takes longer to restart from hibernation than it does to restart from sleep mode, this can be a great way to conserve your battery power throughout the day.

Sleep mode

Meanwhile, sleep mode is like pausing your computer at that exact moment in time. Your applications are saved to memory, which means that they open much more quickly than if they were saved to the hard drive (like in hibernate mode). However, this performance comes at a cost: sleep mode doesn’t save quite as much battery power as hibernate mode.

Sleep mode is also known as ‘standby mode’ on some computers, and is ideal for those who want to save battery life, but don’t want to wait several minutes for their computer to fire back up. On most laptops, this is the default action performed when you close the lid of your case.

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