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  • Captain Marcus

Sleep is important. Even for computers.


It really doesn't matter if it's your home computer or your work computer. They both probably get a lot of mileage, especially during a pandemic.


When you're done for the day, which do you do?


I turn my computer off.


Great. Saves power, lets the computer flush memory and get right back to work.


Except...you'll need to re-open whatever you were working on. If you didn't enable autosave in programs that support it (Office only does if you're using Office 365, for example), you may have lost work.


And if you're like me, your memory won't let you recall exactly what you left unfinished the day before, if anything.


I just lock my screen.


Awesome. Lets your computer get any necessary updates it may need.


Except...if you left certain programs running, your IT department won't be able to properly apply updates, which may cause problems for you the next day if they happened to do a release. Of course, they can "kill" the program, but that means you'll lose your work and may not remember that you didn't finish updating that customer record until the customer calls back in complaining. If it's a laptop, it's consuming energy still that isn't contributing to any productivity.


Let's talk about two options you may not have been aware of: Sleep and Hibernate.


Sleep is a temporary state, just like with humans. It allows the computer to use only the minimal amount of power necessary to "live" and shuts everything down, saving it to temporary memory until the user interacts with the computer in some manner to wake it up again.


This means that it can also allow a wake event from an IT push or some other sort of update, so that the computer is always getting what it needs without disrupting your flow. Obviously, if an update requires a reboot, that will likely lose your work anyway; but most IT pushes don't really need reboots (although many IT shops do it anyway).


Windows updates are a different matter; but you can configure Windows to just tell you when it needs to restart rather than just doing it, to allow you to shut down programs gracefully.


Hibernate is a bit different.


If you go back to what you learned in school about bear hibernation, you will know that bears remain alert and aware of their surroundings, but are able to cut their functions down even further than basic sleep. They don't need nourishment and are able to use their own body to replenish itself. Yet they are able to wake when they sense danger.


Computer hibernation is very similar to a completely powered off state. Much of the activity and function is saved to local storage as a "snapshot", which means the computer doesn't need to consume cycles to manage it. Most computers use only a trickle of energy at best in this state. The consequence, of course, is that it will take much longer than sleep for the computer to come back to a working state, as it will need to restore from the snapshot to put everything back where it left things.


As a general rule, if you're planning to be without plug-in power for an extended period and don't need to use your laptop, consider the Hibernate function during those periods. If you're just moving from room to room but plan to set back up in a short period, consider the Sleep function.


This isn't to say that powering off is a bad idea every now and then, because a good reboot can do wonders. Only that unlike in the days of Windows Millennium (*shudder*), you don't have to constantly do it just to keep things running.

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