Fixing Hibernate Problems in Windows Vista

by Shane Perris on Friday, 25 January, 2008

in how-to,tutorials

One of the most regularly reported problems with Windows Vista is that the hibernate function – one of the power-saving modes – does not work. I have been using Vista daily since February 2007 and although the experience has been generally positive, hibernation has failed to work a number of times. Through trial and error (and a lot of time spent trawling through blogs of both users and Windows developers) I have come across some solutions that seem to work for most people.

Hibernation problems on Vista fall roughly in to three categories:

  1. the computer fails to wake up from hibernation
  2. the computer fails to hibernate
  3. the computer keeps waking up from hibernation when it is supposed to be sleeping

Waking Vista from hibernation

Right from when I bought my laptop (a Dell Inspiron 1501, a mere matter of weeks before they sexed up the Inspiron range with colours, new gadgets and upgraded specs that make my laptop blush with shame at being so weak and puny and unworthy of calling itself a “computer”), my computer would not so much hibernate as enter into a terminal coma from which there was no waking.

The number one reason that Vista fails to wake from hibernation is a problem with video drivers. In my case, the answer was simple. All I needed to do was to update the drivers for my Radeon Xpress 1150 onboard video chipset. A quick visit to the ATI drivers page to download the latest drivers and I was back in business. As easy as that.

Making Vista hibernate

Sometimes the hibernation option is not available, or your hardware key combination (on my Dell it is Fn -> F1) simply does not work. The first thing you need to check if your computer supports one of the hibernation options. To do this, go to the start menu and type Command in the search box. In the results, right click and select “Run as Administrator”. When the command prompt opens up, type powercfg -a which shows you all of the available types of hibernation that your hardware supports. In the video below you will notice that my laptop supports s(3) which is the “deep hibernation” that saves the state of the system to disk before shutting the hardware down.

If your hardware does support hibernation but it still stubbornly refuses to bunker down for the winter, either the hibernation option has been disabled or the Hibernation File Cleaner has been deleted by the Disk Cleanup Utility. Both these options are easily fixed using the powercfg utility again. To turn hibernation back on, type powercfg -h on. The short video below shows you how easy this really is (toggle full screen mode on the flash player for best results).

I can personally vouch for this method as well. Like many people, when I first ran the Disk Cleanup Utility, I saw the the Hibernation File Cleaner took up around 1GB of disk space and I thought “Surely it wouldn’t be an option if it wasn’t safe to delete it? Surely?” Like many people I learned the answer was “Hmm. Not so much” which isn’t exactly grammatically correct but does get its meaning across while inspiring a healthy dose of Friends nostalgia and yearning for Courtney Cox that I thought had long since worn off. Not so much, obviously. But I digress. In my case, the option to hibernate had disappeared from my shut down options and Fn -> F1 didn’t work either. powercfg -h on worked immediately.

Vista Keeps Waking Up From Hibernation

This one is a tricky one. In theory, hibernation physically shuts down your machine so issues such as scheduled tasks (eg system updates, virus scans and so on) shouldn’t be able to wake the machine back up. However, I have seen reports all over the internet of Vista machines waking up and doing strange things. I have never experienced this problem myself but the following suggestions have worked for various people at various times:

  1. if your computer wakes up at a consistent time, make sure there are no scheduled tasks (Start menu -> search for “task scheduler”)
  2. check your BIOS settings to make sure that “Wake on LAN” (also sometimes known as “Wake on Ring”) is disabled. Check your bootup screens to see what key combination you need to hit to access your BIOS
  3. check in Device Manager (Start menu -> search for “device manager” – your life will be much easier if you run this program as Administrator) and see if any of your devices have an option that allows it to wake the computer. I’ve seen reports that blame everything from a wireless mouse to an ethernet device that isn’t plugged in to the network for waking a computer from hibernation.

If any of the above suggestions help, or you have an even better suggestion to make about Vista hibernation modes, why not drop me a line in the comments?

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Elinor October 30, 2010 at 2:58

Shane, thank you, thank you, thank you! I just found your excellent tutorial and, minutes later, was able to stop my computer from waking up by itself seconds after being “put to sleep”. While the “devicequery wake_armed” command listed several devices that could wake up the computer, I only had to change the settings on one (my ethernet NIC, like Hans Li) to get the sleep function to work.

I find it incomprehensible (yet predictable) that Windows Inline Help files don’t offer this fix, especially since it’s been a known problem for years. However, we all bypass the help files and head straight for Google these days. Thank heavens for people who believe in sharing knowledge and helping others!

2 scott December 12, 2010 at 6:13

Thanks Craig Kelly I typed the bcdedit command and now my hibernate works again!

bcdedit.exe /create {resumeloadersettings} /d “Resume Loader Settings”

I’ve worked with the powercfg commands but could never get the functionality back working but now all is good….. Thanks Again!

3 monty December 15, 2010 at 11:38

dell inspiron 1525. computer will not come on. loads the “resuming windows” and then changes to “hibernating” with the little circle beside it. will not go any further. what is going on here? how do i get my computer to come on? using vista home basic.

4 rishabh shorewala December 17, 2010 at 21:24

i have never left a comment before this, however this was extremely helpful … thank you so much

5 randykun January 25, 2011 at 2:27

i appreciate alot, i do alot of work and would like to stop from where i stopped, i lost the hibernate option after i ran the disk utility clean up, thanks for the suggestions. it worked well

6 mohammed abd elmonim February 5, 2011 at 23:11

really it is a problem in vista .
when imake vista hypernat . it wakes up but with very slow response
after that not responding , and then the whole system did not boot up
looks like a CPU problem or HD failure .
really it is terrible problem but I manage to solve it .simply remove the battery .and install it again it will works , if GOD will .
thank GOD

7 David Palmer March 8, 2011 at 20:17

The one hibernate error you don’t mention is where the machine hibernates but when it comes back to life Windows says the machine was not shut down properly. This happens every time on my Dell 1525 which is a sparse as yours!

8 rakesh May 27, 2011 at 10:39

Hey, i use DELL inspiron 1525, OS:vista. when i hibernate my computer, it actually restarts from the beginning but it don’t lose d currently running programs . I mean it doesn’t hibernate its awake. i tried ur powercfg -h on but no solution. any other idea ? Thanks in advance.

9 Jose July 2, 2011 at 9:15

I can not wake my computer from hibernation. How do I update any driver when I cannot get the computer to turn on?

10 Josh August 7, 2011 at 15:00

Thanks this is brilliant help. I wish Windows left hibernate alone. I love it as a function.
Thanks for the help

11 Nicole September 13, 2011 at 9:18

I have an HP with Vista that hibernates randomly when I’m in the middle of doing something. There’s no problem getting it to hibernate, it’s getting it not to hibernate. To bring it back I just press the ‘on’ button and everything comes back and I don’t lose any work, but it’s really annoying that it keeps hibernating!
Sometimes I can work for a few hours without hibernating, other times just 20 mins or so…

Any ideas?

12 Allison October 18, 2011 at 8:22

I’d like to echo Jose’s comments in July:
I can not wake my computer from hibernation. How do I update any driver when I cannot get the computer to turn on? thanks in advance!

13 Steve March 5, 2012 at 14:56

I tried the procedure below to restore the hibernate function to my compaq vista laptop, but didnt have permission to do it. i should have admin privileges under my logon.

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.0.6001]
Copyright (c) 2006 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

C:\Users\Computer>powercfg -h on
You do not have permission to enable or disable the Hibernate feature.


What can I do ?


If your hardware does support hibernation but it still stubbornly refuses to bunker down for the winter, either the hibernation option has been disabled or the Hibernation File Cleaner has been deleted by the Disk Cleanup Utility. Both these options are easily fixed using the powercfg utility again. To turn hibernation back on, type powercfg -h on. The short video below shows you how easy this really is (toggle full screen mode on the flash player for best results).

14 sebus April 16, 2012 at 2:51

How about following instructions (if you do not know what you doing in fist place!): start command prompt “Run as Administrator”

15 Neil June 28, 2012 at 1:28

I can not wake my computer from hibernation. How do I update any driver when I cannot get the computer to turn on?

16 vishwas November 5, 2012 at 16:57

Microsoft ‘fixit’ gives two files to download and run. But I found that after updating my AMD HD driver, I had to run that ‘microsoftfixit50078’ file again.

17 Nigel December 4, 2012 at 23:07

Thanks a lot for the advice. The failure of my computer to hibernate had me somewhat stumped. No idea how or why it got turned off in the first place.

18 Nick December 9, 2012 at 22:07

Echoing above request… how do you start up your computer when it fails to wake from hibernation mode?

I’ve taken out battery, unplugged, plugged the power etc, open and closed the lid etc etc. All to no avail. When pressing the wireless button this flashes as usual so it does respond, just not in any operational way.

What to do?


19 Bo Nonn May 9, 2013 at 3:27

I came across your website while trying to fix the standby/hibernate function on my Dell laptop (running XP) that disappeared when the OS got reloaded after a crash. I see reference to a microsoftfixit50078 file for the Vista. Is there a similar one for XP, and if so, can you point me to it? If not, do you know a fix for the problem?


20 manoj kumar July 23, 2013 at 22:49

Just press restore default power setting in power setting or power option…every thing will be back..,

21 Scott Gwynn October 14, 2013 at 6:48

My HP dv3 has been waking itself from hibernate for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried all of the suggested fixes for this problem to no avail, however I have found a solution.
When I opened the Device Manager and verified that on the WiFi adapter’s Power Management tab, the “Allow this device to wake this computer” box was unchecked, (it was, grayed out even), I took special notice of the other box, “Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power.”
Considering that nearly every time I run the computer on battery power I’m at a cafe or library using WiFi, there seemed little disadvantage to having this box unchecked. Also, I had a hunch that possibly, (this is where I’ll show either foolishness or brilliance; I’ll readily declare my ignorance), the device was being put to sleep as a result of this option being enforced prior to hibernation, freeing it from the rule of hibernation which would keep it from waking the computer. My thought being that some event, timer, I don’t know what, at some point released it to turn on, triggering the waking of the computer. Another thought I had was that since the option is allowing the computer to turn it off, maybe no one had tried this for the absurdity of it.
It has been a month, and since changing only that one option my computer has hibernated soundly overnight and days at a time with or without AC power. At least for me, this is problem solved! :)

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