How Do I Get the Hibernate Option Back in Windows XP?

Nick from Newburgh, NY writes:

 I have XP and my Hibernate selection has disappeared. A friend says I really don’t need it as there is little difference between Hibernate and Stand-By. Is he correct? Something tells me there is a difference.

 The “Hibernate” option disappeared after the Service Pack 2 upgrade, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t available anymore. To get it back, click the “Turn Off Computer” button on the Start menu as normal to bring up the list of shut down options. While the list of three buttons are displayed on the screen, tap and hold down the “Shift” key, which will change “Standby” to “Hibernate” – most of the time, anyway. If the Standby button doesn’t change, you’ll need to modify an option in your computer’s power settings.


If the Hibernate button won’t appear when you hold down the Shift key, click “Cancel” and then open the “Control Panel” in the Start menu. Double-click the “Power Options” icon.

Power Options

In the “Power Options” window, navigate to the “Hibernate” tab, and then click the check box labeled “Enable Hibernation.” Click the “Apply” button at the bottom of the window and you will now have the ability to change the Standby button to Hibernate by holding down the Shift key.

Enabling Hibernation

But what exactly does Hibernate do once you’ve got the ability to use it, and how is it different from regular Standby? Both are designed to consume less energy so you can walk away from your computer while not actively using it without having to actually shut down Windows XP completely. The key differences between the two options are just how much power is being used, and where your data is saved.

Standby mode is faster to recover from than Hibernate, but it still uses a small amount of power. While that may not particularly matter on a desktop setup, if you are using a laptop eventually the battery will die if you leave it in Standby without being plugged in. Hibernate uses essentially no power, and it’s important to note that in most cases scheduled tasks (such as an anti-virus hard drive scan or a disk defragment) won’t kick in and start running while your computer is in Hibernate mode.

The other primary difference is that Standby saves whatever programs and files that are currently open to your computer’s RAM, not to the hard drive. RAM is cleared out when the computer shuts down, so anything on your computer will not be saved if it shuts down for some reason, such as if your power goes out or the laptop’s battery dies. Hibernate, on the other hand, saves everything directly to the hard drive, meaning it will be much less likely you’ll lose your data if the computer shuts off.

~ Ty Arthur

3 thoughts on “How Do I Get the Hibernate Option Back in Windows XP?

  1. Thank you for the very informative article on hibernate and standby. I keep you as my internet homepage for random information like this.

  2. Ty, you left out an important option in the power settings that will save Nick if he leaves his laptop in standby too long. I don’t have an XP machine with me so I can’t give specifics but on the advanced tab on the power options screen you can set the computer to hibernate if the battery gets to a certain percentage, say 5% for a fairly new battery, 10% or even 15% if your battery is a couple of years old. Use the higher settings to make sure your battery has enough power to actually complete the hibernation process before the battery dies completely.

    What this will do is switch the computer from standby to hibernate when the battery gets to that percentage. There is also an option in there to switch the computer to hibernate if you are using it and the battery gets real low.

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