Q: What is the difference between standby and hibernate in Windows XP? - Kerry
A: Standby and hibernate are features in Windows (all recent versions) that are designed to reduce power consumption — when all goes well.
The need to conserve battery power is obvious in portable computers while the desire to save electricity is the primary driver for desktops.
Standby and hibernate both save you from having to log off and shut down to save power, but how long you will be away from your computer will determine which is more useful.
Typically, if you plan to be away from your computer for a short period during your workday, putting your computer in standby mode will place the system in a lowpower state but leave all your applications open. Pressing a key on the keyboard or wiggling the mouse will generally bring the computer back to life quickly with everything exactly the way it was when it went into standby.
If you are going to be away from your computer for an extended time or overnight, putting your system into hibernate mode puts your system into a deeper sleep and is essentially just short of a complete shutdown. When a system goes into hibernate mode, Windows will save your Desktop state and all open files and documents to a special spool file that is called up the next time you power up.
Pressing a key or wiggling the mouse will not turn a system in hibernate mode back on; you must press the power button and log in again. Generally speaking, the system will boot faster than a standard cold start and will return your computer in the exact state that you left it.
To check your current settings for power options, go to the Control Panel and open the Power Options icon. If the hibernate option does not appear in the Power Schemes window, you can click on the Hibernate tab (far right) to enable it.
Now for the reality check portion of this column. In many instances, these power features do not work as advertised.
Many users have experienced situations where a system will go into standby mode and won’t wake up with a keystroke or mouse wiggle, forcing them to hit the power button with varying startup results.
Often this is a result of driver conflicts or older hardware that is not completely in tune with the Windows power management system.
Users of the hibernate feature may experience situations where USB devices are no longer available when the system is re-awakened, primarily due to driver issues as well.
These features are wonderful when they work but can be very problematic when they don’t. So if you don’t really need to use them, turn them off.
Users of newer, more recent portable computers will likely have the greatest success with these features, and users of older computers (more than a year or two) — both desktop and portable — will be the most likely to experience issues.
Also, the number of peripherals that are connected and the associated software programs that run in the background can have a great impact on the success or failure of these features. So, as always, try to keep it simple!