Several years of critical power shortages here in Ontario, alongwith a sense that excessive resource consumption is morally wrong,have led me to power down my PCs when they’re not in use. While I’dprefer a partial sleep solution, even standby mode consumes aconsiderable amount of power (measured not with a watt meter, butrather just feeling the heat of the air coming out of the stillrunning power supply). While Windows XP and Windows 2003 havevastly improved start-up times, once you couple ina large number of services such as SQL Server and various desktopsearch utilities, along with tools like Visual Studio, getting backto where you were before the shutdown can be very timeconsuming.

As such, over the past years I’ve been relying upon theexcellent feature called Hibernation. Enabled in the Power Options(as shown below), this gives you a new “Shut Down” option(available by configuring a key in the advanced section of powermanagement, or when holding shift using the XP theme shutdown menu)that basically freezes the state of your PC and then spools theentire memory contents out to a file. On restart it spools thestate back exactly where it was, resets the state on the CPU, andthen you’re off and running again. Getting back to exactly where Iwas takes just a few seconds.

Back in about 1986/87 a revolutionary product, I believe calledSnapBack, for the Atari ST came out that did exactly this, spoolingout the state, compressed, to a disk file. Of course, in that caseit was generally spooling out 512KB or 1MB, rather than 1GB+, butthe idea was the same. At that time people often used it to add”Save Game” functionality to games that intentionally orunintentionally didn’t offer the same. Other people used it forpiracy, spooling out a running game (after the copy protectionchecks had occurred), and then giving the file to others.

Just had to mention this as it’s remarkable how many peopledon’t know about, and thus don’t use, this excellent feature. Itisn’t perfect, however, and several times it has failed to recoverto where it was, so you probably shouldn’t hibernate with thatdocument you’ve worked on for the past three weeks sittingunsaved.