Walt Mossberg

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Putting a Computer in Hibernation

Here are a few questions I’ve received recently from people like you, and my answers. I have edited and restated the questions a bit, for readability.

My computer takes forever to start up. I am tempted to just put it into hibernation or standby when I am done with it for the day, so that starting up will be quicker. Would I be damaging my computer by doing so?

Doing this shouldn’t cause any damage to your computer. For many users, one of these two techniques is standard procedure, in fact. Standby, or sleep, mode, gets you back to work more quickly, because the machine never completely shuts down. Its biggest downside is that, on occasion, computers fail to “awaken” properly from this mode, and you have to do a full restart. So I would advise that you carefully save any work before initiating standby.

In my experience, this kind of glitch is less likely to happen when you use hibernation, in which the computer does completely shut down, but first saves to the hard disk a record of the state of the machine.

When the computer restarts, all open programs and files are restored just as you left them. The downside here is that getting going again using hibernation takes longer than it does using standby mode. And, even though it’s more reliable than standby mode, I’d still advise saving all your work each time before using hibernation.

I am thinking about switching to a MacBook Pro laptop. I understand that it has a real good automatic Wi-Fi detection system. But if I also use a cellular modem card from Verizon or Sprint to access the Internet, won’t the two conflict?

No. The Mac operating system treats the two kinds of connections separately, each with its own user interface. It can detect and connect either one, if you have coverage of both types.

I’m interested in getting a laptop with LED display and SSD drive. Do you think the price for those components will fall drastically in three months’ time?

Displays that use light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have been around for a while and don’t tend to be a major deal breaker in the higher-end laptops in which they are commonly offered. But solid-state drives (SSDs), which replace hard disks with memory chips to store your data, are much rarer and newer and still can add significantly to the price of even a high-end laptop. I am no expert in price forecasting, but, while SSD prices will fall, I doubt they will drop “drastically” in as little as three months.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the new All Things Digital web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.


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