If I understand hibernation correctly, RAM contents is save as a temp file on the hard disk so that all work can be resumed even after power to the computer has been cut (for a desktop anyway). Is there a way to do this before restarting? I don't understand why if its possible to do this and completely cut power to the computer it isn't possible to do it before a restart?
If RAM were dumped to hard disk before a restart, and then read back in afterwards, it wouldn't be a restart. It would be a hibernation.
The point of restart is to clear ram and reload the OS and programs.
The point of hibernation is to continue where you left off after you resupply power.
If you are interested in analysing your ram contents as a file, you can dump to disk: Linux: http://www.linuxquestions.org/questions/programming-9/copy-ram-to-disk-502547/ Windows: How can I dump the memory of a process in Windows 7?