There are a LOT of power settings for Windows 7 (Vista is very similar), and they can be very confusing and can make a big difference in how much energy you are using and how long a battery lasts on a laptop.  I am only putting a few pictures here and they do not show the settings for a battery here.  I do believe everyone should be using a battery backup such as the ones from APC, CyberPower, Belkin, and others on their computers, even when you are powering a laptop, especially for the power cleaning and surge protection.  That being said, for these first few pictures do not show the battery settings (I will add the ones with batteries later).

If you scroll down below the first three pictures I have copied the help file from Windows 7 with info about hybrid sleep which will include a lot of info about the rest of the settings.  You should also know that I OFTEN change the settings to the "High Performance" settings for computer that run all the time and never shut down like work computers and file servers.

Several of the computer manufactures include their own power plan.  Some of these are good and some, well...  If your laptop battery is running down very quickly or you do not even have it on and the power drains, then you should take a closer look at your power settings in particular, the sleep and hibernate modes.  You may want to turn off the hybrid sleep and change to hibernate instead of sleep.  Your computer will take longer to come back on after going into hibernate than from sleep but it may make the difference for your battery.

I like to have most of this stuff done automatically for less advanced users so there are settings to either leave a computer on all the time or using the task scheduler to wake the computer and then run the updates and backups(more on this later).  If you leave the computer on all the time at the very least make sure you have the display turn off automatically.  You will have to decide for yourself if you want to manage doing all of your backups, Microsoft, and antivirus/security software updates yourself manually.

I will add more to this page as soon as I can.

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Sleep and hibernation: frequently asked questions


Here are answers to some common questions about sleep and hibernation.

What's the difference between sleep, hibernate, and hybrid sleep?

Sleep is a power-saving state that allows a computer to quickly resume full-power operation (typically within several seconds) when you want to start working again. Putting your computer into the sleep state is like pausing a DVD player: The computer immediately stops what it’s doing and is ready to start again when you want to resume working.

Hibernation is a power-saving state designed primarily for laptops. While sleep puts your work and settings in memory and draws a small amount of power, hibernation puts your open documents and programs on your hard disk, and then turns off your computer. Of all the power-saving states in Windows, hibernation uses the least amount of power. On a laptop, use hibernation when you know that you won’t use your laptop for an extended period and won't have an opportunity to charge the battery during that time.

Hybrid sleep is designed primarily for desktop computers. Hybrid sleep is a combination of sleep and hibernate—it puts any open documents and programs in memory and on your hard disk, and then puts your computer into a low-power state so that you can quickly resume your work. That way, if a power failure occurs, Windows can restore your work from your hard disk. When hybrid sleep is turned on, putting your computer into sleep automatically puts your computer into hybrid sleep. Hybrid sleep is typically turned on by default on desktop computers.

Why can't I find the sleep or hibernate options on my computer?

Click the Start button, and then click the arrow next to the Shut Down button.

Sleep and Hibernate located on the menu

If sleep or hibernate aren't available, it might be for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Your video card might not support sleep. Update the driver for your video card, or check the information that came with your computer about your video card and supported drivers. For more information, see Update drivers.

  • Some settings are managed by your system administrator. For more information, see Why can't I change some settings?.

  • Sleep and other power-saving states are turned off in your computer's basic input/output system (BIOS). To turn on sleep, restart your computer, and then enter the BIOS setup. As your computer starts, instructions typically appear on the screen that indicate which key or keyboard shortcut you must press to enter the BIOS setup process. Because not all computer manufacturers use the same BIOS, different keys are assigned for this purpose. To learn more, check the information that came with your computer or go to the manufacturer’s website.

  • If the Hibernate option is missing, you might have Hybrid sleep turned on.

How can I prevent my computer from automatically sleeping or hibernating?

You can adjust how long your computer waits before sleeping or hibernating—or prevent it from turning itself off altogether. But be careful. On a battery powered laptop, inhibiting sleep or hibernation can result in data loss if the battery dies. Here's how to prevent your computer from entering a power-saving state:

  1. From the Control Panel, open Power Options.

  2. On the Select a power plan page, click Change plan settings next to the selected plan.

  3. On the Change settings for the plan page, click Change advanced power settings.

  4. On the Advanced settings tab, double-click Sleep, double-click Sleep after, and then do one of the following:

    • If you're using a laptop, click On battery or Plugged in (or both), click the arrow, and then click Never.

    • If you're using a desktop computer, click Setting, click the arrow, and then click Never.

  5. Double-click Hibernate after, and then do one of the following:

    • If you're using a laptop, click On battery or Plugged in (or both), click the arrow, and then click Never.

    • If you're using a desktop computer, click Setting, click the arrow, and then click Never.

  6. If you also want the display to stay turned on, double-click Display, double-click Turn off display after, and then do one of the following:

    • If you're using a laptop, click On battery or Plugged in (or both), click the arrow, and then click Never.

    • If you're using a desktop computer, click Setting, click the arrow, and then click Never.

  7. Click OK, and then click Save changes.

How can I wake my computer from sleep or hibernation?

On most computers, you can resume working by pressing your computer's power button. However, not all computers are the same. You might be able to wake your computer by pressing any key on the keyboard, clicking a mouse button, or opening the lid on a laptop. Check the documentation that came with your computer or go to the manufacturer's website.

Will sleep eventually drain my laptop battery?

Sleep requires an extremely small amount of power—about the same as a nightlight. If your laptop battery charge gets critically low while the computer is asleep, Windows automatically puts the laptop into hibernation mode.

Is my data safe while my computer is asleep?

You can prevent unauthorized access by requiring a password to unlock your computer when it wakes from sleep. For more information, see How do I change the password requirement when my computer wakes from sleep?