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1st Published, Jan. 2008

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Standby, Hibernation, Wake On Line.

There is so much confusion about, Standby, Sleep, Wake On LAN, Hibernate, Wake on Network, and similar terms that makes it impossible for many users to understand and control their computer’s power management aspects.

Let start with the two terms that are very unique and should not really be part of the Standby issues.

Hibernation, and Wake On LAN.

In both of these states the computer is Totally Off, the power switch or special shut down software switch the computer to Hardware Off position).

When Hibernation mode is checked  On in Windows Hibernation menu, when the computer is turned Off, as part of the shut down routine the computer saves a copy of the RAM status to a file on the Hard Drive.

When the computer switched On again the File loads into the RAM and the computer is ready to work with all applications and content as it was when it was switched Off.

Hibernation save few seconds of the boot process and make the interface ready to work as it was.

Please note that if you have special applications that are dependent on time and date strings there might be some difficulties when the computer loads the previous RAM since part of the info would maintain strings of the date and time from the previous shut down.

Wake On LAN.

WOL is a special way to start a computer that is totally Off from remote computer through the LAN or the Internet.

Wake on LAN depends on special network and computer motherboard Hardware, and it is discussed in detail in this page.  Wake On LAN


Standby is a way to save energy and stretch the computer’s hardware span of life.

In general it is based on switching Off components that are not used while the computer is Not actually used but is maintained On and running.

 The System can be configured to switch Off the Monitor, or the Laptop screen, shut down the spin of the hard drive reduce the computing power of the processor, etc.

Standby has two aspects.

     1. The specific settings that establish what and when would be shut off or reduced in power.


Windows has a uniform way to set the onset of Standby.


The best way to familiarized yourself with this feature is to log to the Computer’s Control Panel choose the Power Options (or Power management) and go over the menus, it is an easy self explanatory process.


       2.  Which event  would get the Computer out of Standby and set it ready  to work

Please note that while switching On from WOL and Hibernation modes the computer goes first through the hard boot process, when getting out of Standby to computer is ready to work within few seconds since it is On while in Standby and does not need to boot.


Typically pressing any key on the keyboard or moving the Mouse would get the computer out of standby.

Some computers can be set through the motherboard to get out of Standby when there is any LAN traffic at their Network entry, this feature need to set in the Motherboard BIOS. and or the Network Card.  Read your hardware manual to find out if and how it can be used with your computer.


Note, this feature some time called Wake on Network and has nothing to do with Wake On LAN.

The cause of the confusion concerning the terms mentioned above stem from the free association language that is used by many Users, software writers, and computer manufacturers

Some manufacturers (especially of Laptops) use propriety systems that are developed in house using their own terminology without fully disclosing what their ad-ones actually do.

Hopefully by Reading the content of this page it would be easier to decipher what your computer is actually doing when it goes to “sleep”.

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