After reading a few articles I learned that hibernate mode doesn't keep any hardware on but allows a faster boot combined with resuming whatever was opened.

I'm planning to use only hibernation from now on – but can this new habit damage my computer in any way?

Is it safer to continue shutting down?

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    @slhck As far as I'm concerned sleep mode and hibernate are not the same.
    – Renan
    Jul 20 '12 at 2:58
  • Hibernation is a kind of sleep mode. But when referring to "Sleep Mode" in the question you linked, they mean basic sleep, which just close everything it can while keeping RAM active so it doesn't lose current work. Hibernate, as you can see in my answer, is much more complex... Jul 20 '12 at 3:03
  • Yeah, gotcha. The word "sleep" got me a little confused there! @phi
    – slhck
    Jul 20 '12 at 3:06
  • Yeah, sleep mode being both a type of and a category of action, it gets kinda messy! Jul 20 '12 at 3:07
  • It’s Windows 7’s fault. In XP, the modes were clear: “standby/sleep”=suspend-to-RAM—S3, “hibernate”=suspend-to-disk—S4, and “shutdown/off”=off—S5. Now with 7, S5 is still the same, but sleep and hibernate have been merged to “hybrid-mode” which starts as S3, then when enough time has elapsed, becomes S4 but keeps the data in RAM. It’s good because it allows for instant waking from RAM, but can still load from disk in the case of a power-out. But being able to manually hibernate would save power.
    – Synetech
    Jul 20 '12 at 3:23

Short answer: It should not, probably.

Long Answer:

Part One: The Hardware

What happens when you Hibernate is that your computer takes a capture of your RAM (Random Access Memory) which contains all the bits and bites your OS is using to show your programs. It save this and VM (Virtual Memory) on a dedicated space on your computer hard drive and then close everything. The main reason why it saves both of those is that at closing, both RAM and VM gets flushed, RAM gets flushed because if there is no power in it, it does't retain memory, and VM is flushed by the OS. Your OS use both of those to store al your applications while it present them to you and you interact with them.

So, hardware speaking, when you hibernate, the whole hardware get closed, so it would not affect it. The hardware sees it as a regular close.

The bit of problem you might have comes from elsewhere:

Part Two: The Software

As I said in Part One, when your computer run, the OS store all your applications in RAM and use that to interact with it. You know that step one of troubleshooting is restart your computer right? Well, the reason is there. If you run a lot of application for a long time, they get sometime messed up, sometime the OS get messed up with memory management and sometime bits of applications get stuck in the RAM. Over time, that cause clunky-ness and non-working program. So guess what happens when every time you reopen your computer, instead of starting anew with clean memory to deal with, it comes back to the mess it was... well, it creates more mess. You shouldn't see anything for the first 3-4 days. If you run Mac OSX, you can stay on nearly a week or two. But at sometimes or another, you'll need to restart your computer to at least clean the RAM.

And let's not forget, your computer will most of the time updates itself only by restarting, it won't do it in hibernation.

So, for the long answer: It can be a bit tricky to deal with but shouldn't physically damage your computer. All it will do is damage your mental status.

Edit: as someone pointed out down there, lets not forget that storing both RAM and VM on your HDD will take up place, with windows it normally goes around 9-12 Gig. And it won't magically clear itself when you wakeup, the OS allocate the place to reuse it afterward. So if you are short on disk capacity, take care of Hibernate

  • "And let's not forget, your computer will most of the time updates itself only by restarting, it won't do it in hibernation." I think this happens only on Windows. Apr 4 '20 at 19:51
  • This happens with any OS needing a restart to updates itself, so macOS and in some cases Linux are also affected. Bare in mind that a Linux distro will rarely have updates requiring a full restart due to the architecture of the OS though, so you can go a pretty long while on Hibernate on Linux while maintaining an up to date system... Aug 14 '20 at 17:25
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    Yes, I exaggerated my previous statement somehow (and don't take it seriously, it tended to be a little bit funny). By the way, thanks for the points. Aug 14 '20 at 20:06

Hibernate won't damage your computer, the only problem I can see is it consumes some space on your disk, and Shutdown will get you a clearer startup environment

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