Power Options – What to Know

Windows 10 power options. Restart, Shut Down, and Sleep. What’s the difference, and what’s special about Windows 10? Everyone who has ever had a computer problem has probably been asked “Have you restarted your computer?” Some people mistakenly choose to Shut Down, and power back on their PCs when asked to do this. Back in the day, that was perfectly acceptable, but in Windows 10, there is a new hybrid sleep mode called Fast Boot. Now, when you “Shut Down” your Windows 10 PC, it goes into a special sleep mode that allows it to wake up faster than a “cold boot” from a power off. It makes the computer appear faster, but it does not actually clear programs out of RAM and start you with a nice clean slate. We’re going to help you better understand your power options.

What is Sleep Mode?

Sleep mode is basically where the drive stops and the machine goes into a power-saving mode that LOOKS off, but it is keeping power to the RAM and therefore memory stored. The computer remembers whatever you had open and what you were working on. Sleep mode is good for coming back up quickly if you are not having any problems. But if you are, it does not purge the RAM and bring everything back up fresh to potentially fix issues you might be having.

How Does it Work?

There are even different sleep states, according to how your computer is configured. Hibernation is one of these options. It writes everything that was in RAM to your hard drive in a special file, then purges the RAM and goes to sleep. It takes a little bit more time to wake up from Hibernation, as that file has to be rewritten to the RAM, but all your progress is saved this way. Hibernation is consider power state S4. It consumes the least amount of power of any of the sleep states. S0 is just on, with possibly some devices in a low-power state. There are also power states S1, S2, and S3, which use less power than S0 but more power than S4. In these states, the RAM is kept alive, and some devices like LAN, USB, or a keyboard remain active so the system can be woken up.

How do I Ensure a Power Cycle?

Restarting still does what it’s always done, and actually power-cycles the machine, clearing RAM and giving you a new start. This is the suggested method of dealing with many strange woes that crop up after a long time running.

You can always check your up-time by going to a blank space on the taskbar, and Right-Clicking.

You choose “Task Manager” and give that just a second to load.

By default, the window is usually in “Fewer details” mode, so at the bottom choose “More details”.

Click on the “Performance” tab, and you will see graphical displays of your hardware and how it is performing. At the bottom is Up time, which will tell you how long this same session of Windows has been running. I am currently at 27 days and could definitely use a restart.

What about Shutting Down?

Shut down is still a viable option for power-cycling your machine, but first you have to make some settings changes. Let’s walk through that now.

  1. First, click your start button. That is the little Windows flag generally at the bottom-left of your screen.
  2. Choose Settings, which is the Gear icon, just above your power options. Click “Home” at the top left of the Settings window.
  3. Choose “System” at the top left of your options. Now, along the left-hand side, you should click “Power & Sleep” to get to your power options. While you are here, you can tell your computer when to sleep, and when to turn off the screen.
  4. But we’re headed for “Additional power settings” on the right.
  5. A new window will pop up, and you’ll want “Choose what the power buttons do” on the left.
  6. Up at the top, in blue, click “Change settings that are currently unavailable” and uncheck “Turn on fast startup (recommended)”. Now, when you choose to shut down your computer, you will truly be starting fresh.

This is sometimes recommended for people who have trouble recovering from sleep mode, as well. It’s usually confusing for the user, because they didn’t know that their computer wasn’t actually shutting down to begin with. If you notice issues coming back up from a shut down, such as bluescreening or going into recovery mode, this might fix your problem. If not, we’re always here to help!

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