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My last computer had one of too many power breaks - the electricity popped, and eventually had my hard-drive corrupted (probably). After reading a few articles about hibernation, I'm yet to understand - Can my computer be damaged in case of a power break, while hibernated?

And on the same topic, is there a way to configure my UPS to gracefully shutdown the computer after a period of time that the power doesn't come back on? Is there a dedicated driver, or software, for each UPS that should have come with it?

And one last thing - I read an article about Shutting down after being idle. It does, however, force the programs to close, which leads me to the next logical question - forcing the programs to quit will leave all changes unsaved? Is there a way to gracefully shutdown the computer?

Turns out to be 3 questions. Will summarize them here for convenience:

  1. Can my computer be damaged in case of a power break, while hibernated?
  2. How can I configure my UPS to shutdown gracefully after a period of time?
  3. Is there a way to gracefully shutdown the computer?
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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

When you put a computer in Hibernation mode it essentially goes into a shutdown state with the exception that it stores the contents of memory into the hard disk. Unlike sleep were it still uses a little bit of power to keep everything in memory hibernation mode doesn't. Power breaks shouldn't effect you so long as you have the computer in hibernation mode:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/sleep-and-hibernation-frequently-asked-questions

An alternative if you really want to be secure against these types of threats is to get a UPS (Uninterpretable Power Supply). You will plug the UPS into the wall and the computer into the UPS. The UPS has a battery so if the power comes down your system will still be up (usually around 30 minutes). Most UPS have software to start a shutdown immediately once it knows the power has gone down.

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I have a UPS now, but if I ever had a disk with a dedicated software, it's no where to be found now. Is there a software you can recommend? And will it shut-down my computer "completely" even in hibernation mode? –  EladR Mar 28 '13 at 22:44
    
Unfortunately whenever I worked with UPS hardware we used the software provided by the manufacturer. I looked on the web for a couple of different applications, and it seems like Spiceworks would meet your needs, but has way more than Power Management software: Spiceworks There are a few others out there, but the best I can tell you is download them and see if they meet your needs. –  Dion Pezzimenti Mar 28 '13 at 22:48

To answer your first question:

No, your computer will not be damaged by a power outage while hibernated. When you hibernate your computer, you are completely turning the power off. If you hibernate a laptop, for example, you can unplug the power cord and remove the battery without any damage and without losing any data.

If there's a power surge, I suppose your computer could be damaged, but not because it's hibernated instead of shut down.

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What damages the computer are power surges and borwnouts, which cause sudden fluctuations on voltage. Those are common before and after a power outage, but the lack of energy itself won't cause any damage (see below). A good PSU will handle small fluctuations, but for big ones you need to connect your computer to a surge protector, or a UPS, which usually has a surge protector in it.

The lack of power itself in a power outage does not cause any physical damages on modern computers. Old hard drivers could suffer from a head crash in the case of a power outage, but that's not the case any more. The only thing the lack of energy may cause is data corruption / loss of data if the computer is on and running, or on sleep mode, and that's what the UPS will be protecting you from - it'll give you time to turn off the computer properly.

  1. Hibernation is just copying the current state of the computer - the software that are running, etc - to the hard drive and turn it off normally. You can hibernate your computer, power cycle it and turn it on again to test it. So no, a power outage will not cause any damages to a computer that is hibernated or turned off, and properly connected to a surge protector and has a good PSU.

  2. and 3. Some UPSs provide that option, yes. There's a guide on the first link.

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I downloaded the suggested program (PowerChute) from the 1st link, but if failed to install saying I don't have an american(?) cable. Or something. AltnerativeTo.net failed to show me any other programs. Quite frustrating. –  EladR Mar 28 '13 at 23:09
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You do realize that software is only for APC branded UPSs, right? Most UPSs do not provide such an option, check your manual or contact the manufacturer to see if yours have that option. –  Alex Mar 28 '13 at 23:11
    
Obviously I didn't. I will. –  EladR Mar 28 '13 at 23:12
    
If your UPS isn't connected to your PC via a USB cable or to the network, no software's going to help you. –  Karan Mar 29 '13 at 11:33

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