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Why can't my machine hibernate? And how's that different than Stand-by?

I have a 2 year old Dell Latitude on which the hard drive crashed a few
weeks ago. I received a new hard drive from Dell and installed Windows XP.
Everything works fine, except I have no hibernate function. Is there a step I
missed in the XP setup? Standby/Shut Down/Restart etc. all work fine, but
Hibernate is not an option.

It’s not a step so much as an option that probably just needs to be turned
on.

We’ll do that, and while we’re at it we’ll explain the difference between standby
and hibernate.

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First the setting.

In Control Panel, open Power Options:

Power Options Properties

Click on the Hibernate tab:

Power Options Properties - Hibernate Tab

I’m guessing that Enable Hibernation isn’t checked on your
machine. Check it, click OK and you should be set. It might
require a reboot before taking effect.

“Hibernation writes a complete image of your computer’s
RAM memory to the hard drive …”

So what is hibernation anyway? And how does it differ from standby?

Over-simplifying just a bit:

Hibernation writes a complete image of your computer’s RAM
memory to the hard drive, and then completely powers down your machine. When
you reboot after hibernating, the boot loader then simply reloads the memory
image into RAM, reinitializes some hardware, and you’re good to go.

The key is simply that the entire state of what your machine is doing at any
point in time is almost completely contained in your system’s RAM. So the
theory is that simply saving and restoring your RAM (along with a few other
details, perhaps) should be enough to completely save and restore what you were
doing across a complete shutdown of your computer.

If you look closely at the second dialog image above, you’ll see that it
says “Disk space required to hibernate: 2,048 meg.” That’s the amount of RAM
installed in this machine, and thus that’s how much space is required to save
the RAM on disk. That image, by the way, is written to the hidden file
“hiberfil.sys” in the root of your boot drive which is always present to
reserve that space if you have hibernation turned on. One way that people free
up that disk space is to turn off hibernation.

Standby does not write your RAM memory image to disk.
Standby instead turns all your hardware off except your RAM. Thus
resuming from standby is often faster than resuming from hibernation, as the
memory image does not have to be loaded from disk – it’s still in memory.

The downside to standby, of course, is that your machine is not completely
off. Some power is still required to maintain RAM. I’ve also seen some devices,
particularly network cards, wake up periodically while on standby.

If the machine’s battery drops too low while it’s on standby, Windows will
either put the machine in hibernate, if that’s enabled, or attempt to cleanly
shut down so as not to lose any work in progress.

Both standby and hibernate have been problematic at times in the past.
Sometimes devices won’t come back up properly after one or the other, or
sometimes the machine won’t resume at all. Standby in particular requires not
only Windows support, but cooperation between the computer’s BIOS and the
various device drivers that may be impacted by a loss or partial loss of
power.

The good news it that for the most part, standby and hibernate tend to work
relatively well on current computers.

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30 comments on “Why can't my machine hibernate? And how's that different than Stand-by?”

  1. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Irving: Stand-by and sleep are the same thing, yes.

    Leo

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    =xwLg
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    Reply
  2. I’m one of those users who rearly turn of their computers. In the night time I would just put her on stand-by. I recently bought another computer at a yard sale. Cost me $20 but a great deal- P@-400mhz, 128mb RAM, I had to take some things off my old P2-266 with just 64 mb RAM.

    Its a Compaq Deskpro, other than I can’t put two hard drives in this case, like I had in my old one, I also lost the ability to place the computer in stand-by because of the video card.

    It’s a 3D RAGE PRO AGP with 8 MB video memory. I done research on the internet and found others with the same problem but no solution. Even Microsoft acknowledged it has a problem but offered no solution, workaround or patch what-so-ever.

    Reply
  3. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Two things come to mind: you may need to be logged in with administrative
    privileges, and possibly the install of windows doesn’t realize that your
    computer has power management capabilities. Make sure that’s enabled in the
    BIOS (as is sometimes the case).

    Thanks,

    Leo

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    4UlOtRpb69odi1x20c+RXcA=
    =GgD7
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    Reply
  4. I have windows Vista Home Premium (32)on my Asus F3jr laptop. The Hibernate option used to always be present from the start menu but only “Sleep” is presnt and I don’t know what happened to the “Hibernate” option. I accessed “Change Advanced Power Settings” in the Power Options dialogue box and selected “Power Buttons and Lid” to see if I could select Hibernate as an option but it didn’t exist as an option except for on the main power button. However when I press the main power button it does not go into hibernation but instead just goes into Locked mode. Any advice would be greatly appreciated as I have found hiernation to be an excellent way of switching off quickly and then coming back to work that I had left unfinished.

    Reply
  5. I have the same dissapearing hibernation problem. It used to be on my Windows Vista(32) HP laptop but I can’t even find a trace of it anywhere. Why?

    Reply
  6. I just reinstalled windows xp after formatting my hard drive on my laptop, and hibernate is no longer an option. There’s not even a tab on the power option properties. Any ideas what happened?

    Reply
  7. I am having the exact same problem as Tricia above. I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and I have admin abilities. When I go to ‘Turn off computer’ I have an option to ‘Stand-by’, but it is grey-ed out so I can’t click it. Why is this?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  8. —–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
    Hash: SHA1

    Your computer must support the ACPI power management
    specification. IF your hardware supports it, then you may
    also need to enable it in your BIOS.

    Leo

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    =4nyX
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    Reply
  9. In my Laptop previously I can able to see the Hibernation option in the Start menu for my Vista Home Premium. Last day I observed the option is not there. I could not understand why this has happened? How can I get that option back.

    Reply
  10. I no longer have a hibernation choice in the control
    panel. I think it was wiped out by some Microsoft
    updates. Tried some choices offered in their support
    section but did not work. What can I do.

    Reply
  11. I am having the exact same problem as Tricia above. I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and I have admin abilities. When I go to ‘Turn off computer’ I have an option to ‘Stand-by’, but it is grey-ed out so I can’t click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  12. i have the same problem…i am using vista with my laptop… before i could use the hibernate features and i really love using it because it saves my works and i could just easily go back to it when i turn it on…but then during the easter holiday, i noticed hibernate button is not there anymore…how will i return that feature…hibernate is really helpful…

    Reply
  13. Same problem – Vista Premium, laptop 3 months old, “hibernate” disappeared a few weeks ago. I’m guessing it’s SP1 update. I preferred “hibernate” to “sleep” and want it back.

    Reply
  14. Same problem as Tricia. Once in BIOS, what do I (we) need to do to re-enable hibernation. I need my Dell Latitude D620 to be able to hibernate upon closing the laptop. Thanks!

    Reply
  15. My computer Hibernates but instead of switching off it just resets and then boots. Is this because I am running a 32 bit version of Windows on my 64 bit machine?
    Ubuntu Linux hibernates fine though.

    Reply
  16. I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to ‘Turn off computer’ I have an option to ‘Stand-by’ & ‘Hibernate’, but it is grey-ed out so I can’t click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?
    Thanks!

    Reply
  17. I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to ‘Turn off computer’ I have an option to ‘Stand-by’ & ‘Hibernate’, but it is grey-ed out so I can’t click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?

    Reply
  18. My computer is doing this too: I used window XP and I have no tab to turn on Hibernate and standby. When I go to ‘Turn off computer’ I have an option to ‘Stand-by’ & ‘Hibernate’, but it is grey-ed out so I can’t click it. Why is this? Is there something else I can download/update to repair this?

    Posted by: nirav at October 14, 2008 8:02 PM

    And i don’t have the hibernation tab anymore either it is gone…???

    Reply
  19. No one realy answered the question. The thing is on some machines in the power option you don’t get the Hibernation option at all. Why?

    Reply
  20. What do I do if I don’t have a hibernate tab in power options? My Dell Inspiron laptop with XP Media crashed and had to do a Windows XP repair to get it back up and running. I don’t have a standby or hibernate option any more. Please help.

    Reply
  21. My Presario 2200 no longer hibernates. It attempts to go into hibernation but then stops and goes back to the screen it was on before I attempted hibernation. Hibernation is activated. I miss being able to use hibernation as it takes a long time to boot. What can I do?

    Reply
  22. it’s possible in some of the situations above (no hibernate option) that your computer doesn’t have enough hard drive space to fulfill the hibernate function, e.g., you have 4 GB of RAM but only 3GB of hard drive available

    Reply
  23. After destructive reformat of my harddrive, I too had no standby/hibernate options. Computer mfr had a driver listed on the website, but exceeded 95-character name and was rejected by my computer. So I downloaded a driver from the ATI website. The options are now back, However, the monitor now will not awaken from Sleep…..it’s ok not to respond to this….I will just go back to the Radeon website and try again.

    Reply

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