Shut Down. Sleep. Hibernate. Lock. If you use Windows as an operating system you have likely noticed the multiple different options you have for shutting down your computer. Have you ever wondered just what the differences are?
Here is an overview of the six different options Windows users have when it’s time to shut down their systems.
Option 1: Shut down
Choosing to shut down your computer will begin the process of turning your computer completely off. If you have any programs open, you will be asked if you want to force close them, and normally be given a short amount of time before they are automatically closed and the computer turned off.
If you are working on documents, or something that requires you to save your progress, it will not be saved when you allow the programs to be force closed. Therefore, when you shut your system down, it is a good idea to save all work before you actually do so.
Option 2: Log off
Logging off will cause all of your open programs to be closed and will bring you to the Windows login screen. You will then be able to log in as another user if there are other profiles on your computer.
The key here is that logging off is just like shutting down, in that your programs will be closed without any saves being made. You will get a warning about this before the computer logs you off.
Option 3: Switch Users
Switching Users is similar to logging off in that when you press this option you are taken to the Windows login screen and are able to log in as a different user. But the main difference is that your programs will not be closed, and remain open.
If you have more than one user who uses your computer, and each has their own profile, switching users is a good option. However, if one user decides to shut down the computer, all other programs, regardless of which user has these open, will also be closed. So, it is always recommended to save your work before switching users to prevent losing your work.
Option 4: Restart
Restarting takes your computer through the shut down process and restarts it. All open programs are closed and your computer shuts down, before restarting after a couple of seconds. You are then taken to either the login screen (if you have more than one user), or directly to the main desktop.
Again, it is a good idea to save your work before you restart.
Option 5: Sleep
This is sometimes called standby mode, and is similar to pausing a tv show or movie. When you put the computer to sleep, all programs and processes are halted but remain open – stored in the computer’s memory. When you wake the computer up, all processes and programs will be open and useable pretty much right away.
Putting your computer to sleep is ideal if you are going to step away from it for a short amount of time, but it generally isn’t a good idea to let it sleep for more than a few hours as it may crash, meaning you lose your unsaved documents. Note that when you put your computer to sleep, any work done since you last saved is not saved; rather it will remain on the screen and open instead.
Option 6: Hibernate
Hibernate is similar to sleep mode, with the difference being that all programs and work are saved. The computer essentially turns off, with some components such as the memory still switched on. When you wake your computer from hibernation, all programs you had open will reopen in the same state you left them. This is ideal for if you are not going to be using your computer for an extended period of time, yet want programs to remain open.
The different versions of shutdown have their uses, but whichever you choose, it is always a good idea to save your work regularly just in case something goes wrong.