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How to activate hibernation mode in Windows 7 and 8

Save energy and time when shutting down your PC

For some inexplicable reason, most versions of Windows 7 and 8 don't allow you to put your PC or Laptop into hibernation mode by default. However, what isn't yet may well still be: Here's how you can (re)activate this handy feature.

Sending your PC into hibernation is often considered to be the most efficient way to shut it down, both in terms of energy and time. In contrast to the conventional sleep or standby mode, which continuously draws a small amount of power by storing your work session in your RAM, the hibernation mode saves this data onto your hard drive, allowing the PC the power down completely, thus keeping your electricity bill as low as possible. It comes to no surprise then that particularly Laptop users have scratched their head at Microsoft's somewhat elusive decision to discard this option from the power menu in Windows 7 and 8. Luckily, the hibernation mode has never been fully removed from the OS – it has just been hidden. If you are up to some Windows tinkering, you can restore the nifty feature fairly easily. See also: Energy-saving tips around the home

Hybernate mode in Windows 7

In most cases, the main culprit for the lack of a hibernate button in the power menu is revealed to be the so-called hybrid sleep mode – an enhanced version of the normal sleep mode that combines all its normal characteristics with an additional routine that copies the content of the RAM onto the hard drive to safeguard it from power-outages. As long as this mode is active, Windows seems to consider the hibernation mode redundant in spite of its energy-saving benefits, so that it doesn't even bother offering the option for it.

To deactivate the hybrid sleep mode, open up your control panel and navigate along the path "Power options >  Change plan settings > Change advanced power settings > Sleep > Allow hybrid sleep". Change the setting from "On" to "Off", close the windows by clicking on OK and you should be all set. Make sure to check your shutdown menu to see whether or not an option for hibernation mode is now available.

If not, you might have to enable the corresponding system entry for hibernation mode manually. Fortunately, this doesn't pose much of a problem: Hold down the Windows-key + R and type in "cmd" to bring up the command prompt. Enter "powercfg –h on" to force Windows to activate it.

This might also interest you: How to stop your PC from waking in sleep mode

Tip: Conversely, by using the command "powercfg –h off", you can deactivate the hibernation mode again, which will also delete the corresponding save file "Hiberfil.sys". This might be useful, if you don't have much use for the hibernate feature anyway and want to free up some space on your hard drive.

Hybernate mode in Windows 8

Just like in Windows 7, the hibernation mode is usually nowhere to be found in the default configuration. Unlike Windows 7 however, it has since been granted a dedicated option to turn it on or off in the energy settings, making the activation process slightly more comfortable.

First, head on into the control panel and search for the entry "Power options". Search on the left side for the option "Choose what the power buttons do" and click it. In the following window, activate the option "Change settings that are currently unavailable", which will likely require you to confirm administrator rights. After the window has refreshed itself, scroll down to the bottom to find all different options to turn off your computer neatly summed up in the "Shutdown settings" section. If the box for "Hibernate" isn't ticked, remedy that and click on "Save changes".

Tip: You can also bind the hibernate setting to the power or sleep button on the side of your PC or laptop. Simply select it in the corresponding drop-down menus in the "Power and sleep button settings" section.

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