Computer Freezes After Sleep?

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader 'Gloria' writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My laptop is set to go to sleep after a period of inactivity, but always freezes after it wakes up. When I press the power button to resume from sleep, the screen turns on but the laptop freezes and I can't input anything while I wait for it to wake up. This goes on for some time. At this point I usually power it off completely, then restart it with a cold boot because I hate waiting. How can I fix my laptop's sleep so it wakes up faster and so it doesn't always hang? "

My Response:

I don't recommend powering off your laptop to circumvent the sleep state as this can result in loss of data. At any rate, this is a very common problem for all computers and laptops that go to sleep, and there isn't a single simple solution because it's usually a plethora of factors contributing to the problem. As such, I will explain a number of reasons why a computer or laptop takes forever to awake from sleep, namely:

1. The sleep mode being used: Sleep, Hibernate, or Hybrid Sleep

2. The BIOS Sleep State defined: s1, s2, s3, s4, or s5

3. Whether you have the latest Motherboard and Video Drivers, and BIOS

4. Sleep Mode: with respect to the Age of the Computer

5. Sleep Mode: with respect to RAM and Hard Drive

6. Sleep Mode: with respect to USB devices attached

7. The number of active programs in memory before sleep

Also note that this is by no means a complete list of factors, but are certainly by far the most common.

Sleep vs Hibernate vs Hybrid Sleep

Different types of sleep states can be defined in Windows; if you want the system to wake up from sleep the quickest way possible, enable standard 'sleep' mode and disable hibernate and hybrid sleep. Standard sleep mode keeps the computer in a low but active power state, where RAM (system memory) remains active. Hibernate essentially writes the entire contents of system memory into a single file on the hard drive, and then powers off the system. If you have a lot of RAM and your hard drive is slow, the system will take a long time to 'wake up' because it needs to reload all the information from the hard drive back into memory when resuming from hibernate mode. Hybrid sleep also writes memory contents to the hard drive.

BIOS Sleep State: S1, S2, S3, and S4

Sleep states range from S1 to S4; sleep state S1 uses the most power, where S4 uses the least. In S1 state, information remains resident in memory; in the S4 state, the system is in hibernate mode and information is written to secondary storage. If you want the system to resume the 'quickest' from sleep, use S1 power state and disable the rest in your BIOS. More information on system power states can be read here.

Sleep Mode: Latest Motherboard, Video Drivers and BIOS

Some Windows drivers can cause problems with the system sleep mode. To ensure your system is running optimal and to avoid possible conflicts with the computer's sleep, you should update all your motherboard and video drivers. The computer's BIOS is another culprit and oftentimes BIOS bugs can prevent the system from entering into sleep properly. A word of warning: updating the BIOS comes with significant risks; a bad BIOS flash can brick your laptop or computer so please keep this in mind before rushing to update your BIOS. I recommend trying all solutions on this page before updating the BIOS.

Sleep Mode: with respect to the Age of the Computer

Generally speaking, older computers are slower than newer computers. That's because newer computers use faster RAM, hard drives, system bus, and processors. Newer computers also use better chipsets (which also employ better sleep technology), and have continued driver support. Therefore, newer computers with up to date drivers are usually faster to wake up from sleep than older computers.

Sleep Mode: with respect to RAM and Hard Drive

The more RAM (system memory) you have, the more information that needs to be processed when your computer enters a sleep mode and then resumed -- whether it's standard sleep or hibernate. If you use hibernate mode, all system memory gets written to the hard drive. As I mentioned earlier: if you have a lot of system memory and slow hard drive and are using hibernate mode, this will result in slower wake times. If you want to speed up any part of this process, get a solid state hard drive.

Sleep Mode: with respect to USB Devices Attached

USB devices must 'wake up' after sleep. If you have a lot of USB devices attached to your computer, this will impact how long the system will take to wake up from sleep.

Sleep Mode: with respect to the number of Active Processes

Some programs will automatically refresh upon wake from sleep. A good example is a web browser page with JavaScript, such as Facebook. As soon as the page becomes active (after waking up from sleep), it will attempt to refresh the page automatically and request data from Facebook's server. If the system is currently busy (based on all of the above reasons), it will take longer to update the page, and in many cases, the page will likely appear to freeze while the system is waking up.

Disabling Sleep Mode

If you want to disable sleep entirely, you can also do that. Disabling sleep mode will get around all the issues discussed in this article, but you won't save any power. If you're using a laptop, that's not really an option unless you plan to have the laptop plugged into the wall all day long. You can disable sleep by going into the Power Options settings, which is accessible via the Control Panel.

I hope that helps to explain why your computer takes forever to awake from sleep. As I mentioned previously, this is by no means a comprehensive list of reasons, but it is an excellent start and will help you to understand and even determine what the culprit(s) might be.

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Additional Support: From Dennis

If you need additional support in troubleshooting why your computer takes forever to wake up from sleep, I am able to assist you over remote desktop support. Simply contact me using the contact form and we'll set up a time to meet and discuss your options.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question -- or even a computer problem that needs fixing -- please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas is the owner and operator of With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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