Windows provides several power-saving options for when you’re not using your device, helping to make it as efficient as possible. These options are going to be most useful when you’re using a laptop, helping to conserve battery life so it lasts all day long, but also useful to know if you want to do your bit for the environment.

We'll explain the differences between the Hibernate and Sleep modes, what your PC does when it powers down, and when you should use one over the other.

Sleep mode

Sleep mode is similar to having your TV on standby. When your computer enters Sleep mode all its processes are powered down and actions are stopped, with any open programs, applications and documents stored in your system’s RAM.

The computer technically stays on by using a little bit of power, making sure it's ready to spring back into action at a moments notice - it should take only a couple of seconds for your machine to resume normal function after being asleep.

Sleep mode is great if you’re going to leave your computer for a short amount of time. If you want to be as efficient with your power as possible you can set your machine to go to sleep after a period of inactivity in your power options.

Hibernation Mode

Hibernation is fairly similar to sleep mode but with a few important key differences.

When your computer enters Hibernation mode, your open applications and documents are saved to your computer’s hard disk rather than its RAM. This difference allows your computer to effectively turn off completely, which means it won’t be using power at all.

Once you wake it from Hibernation everything will be exactly where you left it, but it will take your computer longer to wake up than from Sleep mode as it will need to retrieve information from the hard disk rather than the RAM. This process can be made much faster if you're using a solid-state drive rather than a standard hard drive.

How to put your computer in Hibernation or Sleep mode

Putting your computer into Hibernation or Sleep mode is simple, and possible via Power Options in the Hardware and Sound Control Panel. For full instructions click here.

We've also put together a handy article on our favourite Windows 10 tips and tricks, to make sure you're getting the most out of your operating system.