Power Manage your Desktop PC

Many readers will be aware that Laptop computers have power management settings but less will know that you can employ similar strategies with your desktop. Not only will you make your desktop that little bit' greener' but you will save a bit of time too! Sound good?...

Windows offers 3 methods for saving energy when you are not using your computer.  I’ll explain the differences below.

Turn Off (aka Shut Down)

Well we all know this one! If you completely shutdown your PC and turn the power outlet off at the wall not only will your PC consume zero power but so too will all the peripherals and believe me this does add up.

The disadvantage of this approach is that it’s a bit slow to get your PC booted up again and to carry on working from where you left off in your previous session.


This mode is designed to switch off all the power hungry devices in you PC such as the hard drives but it maintains power to the memory so that you can wake the computer relatively quickly and continue working where you left off.

There are though some serious disadvantages to this option.  The PC can wake on its own, either because of scheduled events like virus scans or physical disturbances that activate the mouse (family pets, wobbly floorboards and passing trucks all seem to have this ability).

That said the biggest issue is that in the event of a power failure, you will loose all your unsaved work, since anything sitting in memory will be lost!


Yes you can hibernate a desktop! 

How to do it is not as obvious as it could be but before I get to that lets cover why I think it’s the best option if you are not going to fully shut down your PC.

Hibernate, copies everything in memory to a temporary file on your hard disk. This solves the power loss issue – the data is there waiting to be restored to memory the next time you power up the PC.

When the PC enters hibernation mode (which takes a few seconds) all power to all on board devices is switched off. I often unplug the PC from the wall with no ill effect.

The PC will wake from hibernating quicker than if will perform a complete boot. Mine takes just 30 seconds.  Not only that but all the programs you had open with your work in progress will be there to greet you.  If you are anything like me that’s load of time saved not trying to remember where I left off last night and where I saved everything!

How to Hibernate a desktop

First it is necessary to enable the hibernate feature. The procedure in Windows XP is Start / Control Panel, then Double-Click Power Options.  Click the Hibernate Tab and Tick the Enable Hibernation checkbox. Click OK.

Having enabled hibernation is invoked with Start / Turn Off computer.  Now hold down the Shift key and you will see the Stand By button transform into a Hibernate button. Click the hibernate button.

To wake the computer from hibernation, make sure the power is connected and press the power button as you would for normal startup. That’s it.

You should still fully re-boot your PC say at least once a week because they have a habit of getting cluttered memory after a while (sounds like me) but hibernating can be just as energy efficient as turning off your PC with real productivity benefits. I have made it part of my routine and I hope it will work as well for you.