Laptop in transit: Shut Down or Sleep/Hibernate?

Giving this its own thread.

Advice, please. Interested in maximizing the life of my laptop.

I’m a freelancer and I also go to school where I use my laptop in class. So there are days when I get to class, use laptop for 1.5 hrs, go to client’s office and use laptop for 3 hours, then go home and use laptop during the evening. (It’s my only computer. Win 7, 8g RAM)

Should I be putting it into standby/hibernate mode (which?) when I put it in my bag to go to my next destination?

Should I turn it off overnight or leave it in sleep/hibernate? (What is the difference between these two modes?)

I’m old enough to remember when you had to “park” a hard drive, so I have this learned aversion to carrying the computer around in a bag when it’s technically on. I can unlearn that.

Okay, generally the distinction is this:

In sleep mode, battery power is used to keep the memory active, while all other components are turned off.

In hibernate mode, a large file with the current memory state is written to the hard disk, along with instructions to reload the file into memory on next power-on. Then the computer is turned off.

I don’t really see any advantage to using either in terms of laptop life - sleep will create a small battery drain which might shorten the life of the battery a little, and hibernate will create a little extra hard disk activity versus booting normally, which might shorten the life of the hard drive a little.

If you don’t want the convenience factor of either, then shut the computer down completely. If you appreciate the convenience, then you can use either without worrying about them impacting laptop life much, (unless you’re routinely draining the battery down to 20% or lower in sleep mode. Don’t do that.)

This is my $0.02, at any rate.

I always use sleep mode when I travel with my laptop. I’ll routinely go weeks between rebooting. Going into and out of sleep is very quick. There are no moving parts when it’s sleeping, so the motion isn’t an issue.

If your computer can hibernate, you could use that also. My laptop won’t hibernate if there is over 4 GB of RAM installed (I have 8GB, running Windows XP 64 bit). YMMV.

The main reason to use either sleep or hibernate (rather than shut down) is the time you have to wait restarting the OS and any programs that you commonly use.

However, I think there’s an important difference between hibernate and sleep besides battery drain–at least in my experience. The more times I go into hibernate without intervening shut downs, the slower my machine operates. (So I always use sleep, over hibernate.) However, that could just be because of the configuration of my hardware (RAM upgrade from 2G to 4G, etc.)

I do back up religiously to an external drive. This is my fifth laptop over ~16 years. Been freelancing for 22 years. Had a virus a couple of years ago that tanked everything and reinstalled XP myself–lost no data. However, I’d be interested in your opinion re other types of backup. I use an aircard as there is no high-speed internet available at my rural home location, and it’s fairly slow, about 1.5 mbps on a good day. At my one client, I use their wifi. At school, I use my aircard. Not willing to buy a second laptop. I’d rather put up with the inconvenience of being without one for a week or so if disaster struck.

Re my original question: I definitely get the overheating issue. But other posters seem to be saying that in hibernate mode, the computer actually shuts off, so it wouldn’t be overheating, right? I would probably still shut down at night, but it would be nice not to have to reboot three times a day.

(This answer assumes your laptop is using a traditional, that is spinning, hard drive-- if it has a solid-state drive than the answer is totally different.)

IMO, the most delicate component of the laptop and the one that will break first is the hard drive, so I would as a rule minimize hard drive use. HDs do a lot of work booting a computer, and they do only a bit less work restoring from hibernate mode.

Basically, I’m saying:

  1. Don’t shut down unless you have to for some reason (system update)

  2. When moving the computer, simple close the lid and let it go to sleep

  3. If you’re using an OS more modern than XP (and I hope you are, so sick of people still using ancient XP on their beautiful new computers!), it has “hybrid sleep” mode which keeps the laptop in sleep until the battery gets to a certain level, then puts it in hibernate mode. Microsoft is not staffed by dummies-- this mode is the default because it’s the best.

  4. If you’re frequently performing some task that requires the HD to spin for a few minutes, maybe reconsider how you’re doing it, or whether it needs to be done at all. The goal is to minimize HD spinning.

It’s a Dell XPS L502X
Intel Core i7-2820QM CPU @ 2.30 GHz
8.00 GB
Windows 7 64-bit OS

I have the settings such that closing the lid has no effect, but I can choose sleep from the start menu. You’re suggesting sleep, as opposed to hibernate?

See above and my OP: Windows 7. No hybrid sleep. I need to choose sleep OR hibernate.

What task DOESN’T make the hard drive spin?

If I were you, I’d just go back to the default settings. Many laptops are not designed to be on while the lid is closed, I don’t know if yours is or not, but I’d play it safe, personally. (My old iBook would overheat in minutes if left on with the lid closed-- it vented heat out the top of the keyboard.)

In Windows 7, “sleep” is the same thing as “hybrid sleep”. They changed the behavior of it without changing the name. Sorry I didn’t make that clear.

Anyway, you get the “low HD usage” and “quick wake-up time” advantages of sleep mode combined with the “my data won’t get erased if the power goes out” advantage of hibernate mode. It’s good stuff.

On a machine with Windows 7 and 8GB of RAM? I’d hope virtually *every *task! Unless you’re running some kind of crazy huge software, or have tons of crapware clogging up your computer, or browse with Firefox with 50+ tabs open…

Actually what’s probably happening is that you’re rebooting so often that it’s fouling up the assumptions that Windows 7’s caching is making, your commonly-used apps aren’t getting cached properly, and so Windows has to hit the disk harder than it normally would if it had just been left running.

There are a variety of sleep, hybrid sleep, hibernation, etc. Hibernated machines are off and do not draw power but they are going through a “power cycle” just like shutting it off and turning it on. You don’t get to cheat by hibernating it and thinking you didn’t really shut it off therefore were somehow extending its life.

possible pedantic nitpick

The hard drive is spinning pretty much no matter what. The predictive caching just hopefully has a large percentage of what you need for may common tasks handy in RAM but some things, for example the backend DB of quickbooks, is going to live on the hard drive and be generating read/write hits all the time. Plenty of programs have hefty installs that do not load into ram unless that aspect of the program is needed.

Caching is cool, but it isnt magic and it doesent load everything.

W2K and WXP had better handling of Sleep, Hibernate, Shutdown

The default depends IMO not only on the OS and version, but also on the PC. Many big brand laptops have come for years with a “sleep” button in addition to the power button and the lid, in such cases closing lid was often sending the PC to shutdown. Making closing lid to send the PC to sleep was the usual choice from users. So User has better check and choose by himself (In most Windows versions since at least W2K, the Power Options or similar item in Control Panel offers all the choices you may want for any action when pressing Power or Sleep buttons or when closing lid).

As far as I recall all old versions of Windows, as soon as they had Hibernate, did automatically and silently hibernate from Sleep when the battery went too low; the only difference was that since implied by everybody and operated silently, it didn’t need a name.

BTW please stop this marketing-ordered constant advertizing of newer versions of Windows; most will never mention or reply you, but know very well that since its peak around Y2K (when Bill Gates realized how rich he had become, lost interest in MS, and quit), Windows has steadily declined, so the best versions have been W98SE, W2K, WXP, no matter the contant bombardment with the political-marketing mantras that “version (n-1) is hell, version (n) is heaven”, with currently n = W10 hence W10 painted as “heaven” and W8, W7, and of course WXP as “hell”. Still keeping at least one PC or VM running WXP in 2015 is NOT “sick” but, oppositely, smart and foresighted.

Versailles, Sun 20 Sep 2015 19:18:40 +0200

It still happens, just that modern hard drives will automatically park the head when they are shut down. Some do it even when they abruptly lose power.

One other thing to be careful of expecially with a machine of that kind of power level. If somehow you end up with that thing running in the bag, it can get unholy hot in there and trigger a thermal shutdown. If that happens alot, it will kill the computer eventually.

I admit I tend to be conservative in my recommendations because nobody comes to me when everything is working perfectly so I tend to see all the horror stories.

Don’t worry about any of this. The companies involved have long since figured out the best way for all the components to behave: the drive will park, the OS will sleep/suspend/hibernate when you close the lid. (And thus not overheat.)

Eventually something will break. Maybe the HDD, maybe something else. If it’s the HDD, no big deal, get a new one. They’re about the cheapest thing to get fixed on a laptop. Just make sure you make regular backups.

If you insist on worrying about something: when you close the lid, give the machine enough time to finish writing to disk before putting it away.

I usually shut down my laptop when I’m not using it.
I like to have a fresh start, cleared cache, cleared memory, etc… when I’m using my laptop - it just works faster.

The 5 seconds I’m saving from booting is very fast recuperated due to the fact, the laptop generally works faster.

If I have to depend on battery power, it also does not deplete the battery while turned off as fast as if it would be on standby, sleep, hibernate.