When checking your computer’s power settings, you may notice an option for sleep mode. Most desktop and laptop computers have an option for sleep mode. Rather than using the normal and default power setting, you may want to use the sleep mode setting. Before setting your computer to sleep mode, though, there are a few things you should know.

What Is Sleep Mode?

Not to be confused with hibernation mode, sleep mode is a power setting that’s designed to conserve energy while allowing the computer to stay on. Computers, of course, consume substantially more energy when they are on than off. Rather than turning off your computer, you can set it to sleep mode. Sleep mode will force your computer to enter a low-energy state that saves energy.

How Sleep Mode Works

Sleep mode works by leveraging standby power. Upon entering sleep mode, your computer’s machine state will be stored in random access memory (RAM). It will still consume some energy to keep the RAM active. However, your computer won’t consume energy for other, unnecessary hardware or processes. The end result is energy savings. Sleep mode will allow your computer to stay on while consuming a minimal amount of energy.

You can typically revert your computer back to its normal power mode simply by moving the mouse or pressing a key on the keyboard. Actions such as these will disable sleep mode, thus restoring your computer’s full functionality and its energy usage.

When to Use Sleep Mode

You should consider using sleep mode when you’re planning to leave your computer for a short period. Turning off your computer is always an option. But the problem with turning it off is that your computer will lose all of your temporary data. Sleep mode is a better solution. When set to sleep mode, your computer’s machine state will be stored in RAM. You can also reactive your computer simply by moving a mouse or pressing a key.

Of course, there’s also hibernation mode. Hibernation mode is similar to sleep mode but with a few caveats. With hibernation mode, your computer will save all of its operational data to a storage drive before turning itself off. You can then turn your computer back on while retaining the saved data.

Sleep mode is different than hibernation mode. With sleep mode, your computer will stay on. Sleep mode also keeps the RAM active, so it requires a small amount of power to function.