Windows 8 and 8.1 Hibernation File Setting

                  By Don Trauger – Kennett                                                


Windows has always offered a Hibernation feature in their operating systems. Its purpose is to save all of the contents that are in RAM (memory) to a file that is stored on the hard drive when you shut down the computer. All that Windows needs to do when you power up is read that one file instead of hundreds and restore the contents back into RAM. The upside is that it results in a much faster start. The possible downside is that if you had a problem with Windows or a program then you will still have that problem when you power up. In a normal shutdown without using Hibernation, RAM is cleared and that sometimes solves problems such as freezes. Clicking Restart on the shutdown menu also clears RAM.

With Windows 8 and 8.1, the Hibernation feature works somewhat differently. When you shut down the computer it enters Hibernation automatically. However, it’s not quite the same Hibernation as described above. It’s a partial (Hybrid) Hibernation where Windows and device drivers are stored in Hibernation but your programs and your user session is not stored. This Hybrid Hibernation feature results in a faster booting system than if everything was stored in hibernation.

Most new computers have this Hybrid Hibernation feature already activated when you start your computer. You can check this by right clicking the Windows Start button (lower left corner of the Desktop screen), click Control Panel, click the down arrow next to Category near the upper right and choose large icons. This allows you to view all of the Control Panel items. Click Power Options. Click “Choose what the power buttons do” on the left. You should see a grayed out section at the bottom labeled “Shutdown settings”. The Windows default should show “Turn on fast startup” (recommended) and Sleep as being checked. Fast startup is the Hybrid Hibernation feature. If it isn’t checked, click “Change settings that are currently unavailable” near the top of the window. When you click it all of the items now become available to check or uncheck. The Hibernation item is the full Hibernation where it stores everything in RAM when you shutdown. If checked it will appear on the shutdown menu. Sleep keeps your session alive in RAM so a mouse click or keyboard key tap will bring the computer “awake” again. The lock feature should be unchecked as it’s not needed in normal use. When finished making changes click the “Save changes” button at the bottom.

The directions above are for Windows 8.1. If you still have Windows 8 you absolutely should download and install version 8.1 from the Windows Store tile icon. However, with Windows 8, you can open the Control Panel on the All apps screen and proceed from there.

Now for an important setting change. I’ve discovered in some situations that Windows does not have the proper size set up for the Hibernation file. This can result in the computer freezing on boot because all of the data may not be stored or available on demand. I highly recommend you make this following change even if the computer boots normally.

Right click the Start button, click Command Prompt (Admin). A black window will open. At the blinking cursor type: powercfg /h /size 100. Note there are spaces before the slashes and “100”. Press the Enter key. You will see a large number appear in the window. This represents the total amount of RAM memory in your computer. I have seen stability and faster startups return to Windows 8 and 8.1 computers after this simple change is implemented.

Come see Hibernation demonstrated at our PC Club meeting. It’s held on the second Tuesday of each month at 7 PM upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center. It’s open to all and no membership is required.