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Win10 Hibernation Situation

Hibernation is an inactivity option for Windows 10 PCs that’s been around since before Windows 10 itself. Hibernation sits halfway between sleep mode and the old-fashioned shut down (off) mode. When a Windows 10 PC is set to hibernate, it saves the current state — including open programs and documents — and writes them to a special disk file named hiberfil.sys. When you start back up, the contents of that file are copied back into memory, and your PC is off and running once again. But there are some wrinkles to the Win10 hibernation situation, and they’re worth knowing about.

It’s hard to tell if hibernation is turned on or off on a Win10 PC. Two important clues: 1. A hibernate option in the Shut Down menu (shown), 2. Hiberfil.sys file at the root of your C: drive.

Understanding Your Win10 Hibernation Situation

Surprisingly, I couldn’t find any way at the command line to check a Win10 PC’s hibernation situation (on/off; enabled/disabled). But if you visit your Shut Down menu, then right click the arrow to the right of that word, a pop-up menu appears. If Hibernate shows up on that menu, it’s enabled/turned on; if it’s absent from that menu, it’s disabled/turned off. Easy-peasy, right?

Use Powercfg to Turn Hibernation On or Off

If hibernation is turned on, and you want it off, or vice-versa, there’s an easy fix thanks to the powercfg command. To turn hibernation off, enter this command in an administrative Command (cmd.exe) or PowerShell session:
powercfg /hibernation off

A similar string turns hibernation back on:
powercfg /hibernation on

The abbreviation /h works just as well as the full term /hibernation in command strings, BTW.

Why Turn Hibernation Off, Anyway?

By default, hiberfil.sys is set to half the amount of RAM in your system. On a PC like mine, with 32 GB RAM, that sucks up a fair amount of disk space. Some folks don’t much care for such space allocation. Likewise, when you turn off hibernation you also turn off Windows built-in Fast Startup capability. For some users, especially those on certain laptop or tablet PCs, turning of fast startup makes the difference between being able to use the Restart command to restart normally, versus having to disconnect the battery and AC power, then perform a cold reboot, before being able to reboot a machine. As with so much else that’s hardware-based in Windows 10, YMMV. For some, however, it’s indisputable that disabling hibernation is a good thing. For others, not so much.

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