Both sleep and hibernate are ways to power down your computer without having to reload all of your work and programs. The difference between the two is where your computer stores your work.
When you put your computer in sleep mode, the computer immediately pauses what it’s doing and waits for you tell it to start again. Sleep mode allows a computer to quickly go back to full-power operation (usually in seconds) once it’s turned back on.
Sleep mode stores your open documents and settings in the RAM or short-term memory. This memory is only available while the computer is drawing power. That’s why in sleep mode, the computer goes into a low power state. The battery or electricity is still being used in sleep mode. If the computer is shut down or runs out of power, the memory is wiped clean and you lose all your unsaved work.
Sleep mode is best used when you need to power down for a short amount of time, like moving to a new spot to work, but will have the ability to recharge soon.
When you put your computer into hibernate mode, the computer pauses what it’s doing, stores your open documents and programs on your hard drive, and then turns off your computer. When you turn it on again, the computer boots up with all your open documents and programs waiting for you. But, because your computer turns completely off, hibernate mode does not allow a computer to quickly go back to full-power operation. Because your hard drive is the long-term memory, unlike RAM, nothing is lost when the computer turns off.
Hibernate mode is best used when you know that you won’t use your computer for an extended amount of time or when you won’t be able to charge the battery for a while.