Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

August 15, 2008

Windows XP Standby and Hibernate Problem (Update 5/2009)

Category: Conservation,Little Things,Save Electricity,Tips – Tom Harrison – 11:24 am

No Standby

No Standby

In June I wrote about how I had solved my problems with windows XP not going into stand-by or hibernating. That post is a good overview of the problem, with suggestions on how to diagnose and narrow down the problem. There is also a good thread of comments there.

Judging from the traffic I have been getting on that post, it seems that many others are having the same standby issues as I. And there are some other standby solutions I have found since then. I’ll try to keep updating this post, and I encourage anyone with other findings or questions to comment.

Update History

  • (edited 9/7/08, added test methodology)
  • (edited 9/9/08, added suspected Google Reader issue and 5 minute test period)
  • (edited 9/14/08, results of testing free utility, Smart Shutdown — it works! It used to work :-( )
  • (edited 10/21/08, some XP SP3 Hibernate problems and possible solutions)
  • (edited 11/17/08, added firmer “shut down everything first” to test procedure)
  • (edited 11/18/08, added “verify manual standby works” to test procedure)
  • (edited 12/13/08, clarified case where iTunes causes problems
  • (comment #17 on this post, 1/1/09, Java QuickStart
  • (comment from other post, 1/29/09: Symantec AV suspected
  • (comment from other post, Installation of SP3 kills hibernate option; see below)
  • (comment from other post 2/26/09: Adobe Type Manager causes Keyboard error entering standby, confirmed by Microsoft)
  • (additional bolding of some other solutions in comments, 5/22/09): Spamblock Plus, VOIP connection, MSN, others suspected.

Known or Suspected Standby Hibernate Issues

Standby Problems

  • Having a video, e.g. YouTube open in my web browser, Firefox 3 or IE (100% sure), even if all content is downloaded (ok if it has the “Play” arrow, i.e. not started yet)
  • Having GMail open in my web browser (20% sure)
  • Having Google Reader open in my web browser (20% sure)
  • Having any program open that has a file open on another computer (100% sure)
  • Having iTunes open when the iTunes library is on a network computer (100% sure) Update 12/08: If your computer DOES go into standby or hibernate, e.g. manually, iTunes will get confused and need to reprocess your library next time you start. Aaaargh!!
  • Having running (50% sure)
  • 8/16 I am suspicious of some browser applications and plugins. I ruled out today, but also had what I thought were innocent windows open in my browser (FF 3). I stopped the browser and then restarted, opening the same windows, and standby was fine. Grrr.
  • 9/9 Google Reader??? But not always. I was able to reproduce a problem that occurred when Google Reader (a fantastic RSS reader!) was open in a browser window, again, either IE or FF. It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen sometimes, confirmed. I am not sure if it has to do with the particular site whose feed is selected, or perhaps just if the periodic check the application does for new posts happened during my tests. Note: I had to set the Standby period to longer than my usual 1 minute to reproduce this, so maybe it’s just that I was testing this in the morning and a whole bunch of items were getting updated. (100% confirmed that something is up, not sure exactly what).
  • Windows XP Service Pack 3 causes Hibernation tab in Power Options to go away. I have not seen this; SP3 installed fine for me. See my comment on my other standby/hibernate post, here with links to possible causes and solutions. (100% confirmed by MS)
  • The confirmed case of Hibernate tab disappearing is that SP3 installation uses more disk space; hibernation uses disk space. When disk space is freed, hibernation option becomes available again
  • Java QuickStart!!! See comments below…

It pretty much sucks that I now have to think about what kinds of browser tabs and applications I need to close in order to make sure my computer goes into standby, so to that degree, the problem is not solved. But I now am successful at getting my machine to stand by and hibernate 90% of the time.

This is by no means the extent of the problem. I am quite sure that having certain programs, hardware device drivers, or services running was likely to be part of the problem I solved.

Testing Method for Standby Issues

Here’s the quickest way I have found to test for a program that interferes with XP Standby:

  1. Close any known and suspected problematic all programs (and optionally disable suspected plug-ins, or stop suspected services, etc.)
  2. Make sure the computer will go into standby (and stay in standby) mode manually (Start > Shut Down > Standby)
  3. Set the standby time to 1 minute (Start > Control Panel > Power Options > System Standby > After 1 minute)
  4. Wait a minute (no keyboard, mouse, etc.) to see that the system actually goes into standby
  5. Open the suspected problem program and wait again
  6. If it fails to standby after a minute or two, then there’s probably a problem; I would give it a few more minutes just to be sure
  7. Then re-close/re-disable/re-stop the suspected program and wait a minute five or more minutes (you’ll need to reset your power options standby time setting). If the computer goes back into standby mode, that’s pretty conclusive. Note that I have confirmed cases where I cannot reproduce a problem when standby time is set to 1 minute, but can when it is set to a longer time, like 5 minutes.

Two other general suggestions for testing:

  1. Test only one suspected problem at a time — I had tried testing multiple changes at once but found that without rigorous recording of what changes I had made, it was almost impossible to isolate a specific issue.
  2. Make sure to see standby working, then failing, then working again before making any conclusions. I have had several cases where it seemed to stop working after I did something, but it was still not working after undoing it. Many things can be happening under the covers that are potential culprits or which can interfere with a test (e.g. a scheduled virus scan)

9/14/08: A Free Tool that Solves My Issues (at least)

I haven’t tried it yet, but Here’s a link from “Lifehacker” describing a free utility called Smart Shutdown for Windows XP that seems to put standby and shutdown on steroids. More on this very soon.

If not perfect, it seems, so far, so have solved all the cases I can find where Windows’ built-in standby and hibernate utilities fail. Apparently, this has been around since 2005 — who knew? The user interface is a bit lacking, but it seems to replace the power settings and take over. If network files are open, or videos are open, it works where Windows doesn’t. Update: I still have this utility running, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Most likely some configuration change affected this, but I can’t figure out what I did. Sigh

My (minor) complaint is that the user interface is pretty very weak. There are a lot of options, and it takes a little lot of work to figure out which ones you need, you don’t need, and so on. But it is free, and it hasn’t failed yet might work for you.


  1. I have had this problem for years on a Dell Laptop now running XP Pro SP3 that would occur about 50% of the time upon attempt to enter standby. First, the prompt comes up “please wait while machine gets ready to stand by” (or something similar to that), then the screen goes black, and finally the machine hangs with fans on full speed. Only recourse then is to hold down the power switch until power is cut off.
    The best method I have found to work around this problem seems to be to disconnect from the wireless network before trying to enter standby. (Testing of this hypothesis is ongoing since this is the first day it has been found to prevent the standby hangups). My Wifi is an “Instant Wireless” PCMCIA Card by Linksys in case anyone is interested and its driver is “lswlnds.sys”.

    Comment by Andrew — March 9, 2012 @ 5:54 pm

  2. Thank you Andrew for that tip! Shutting down the WLAN helps tremendously in getting the laptop to hibernate (fujistsu siemens amilo 1520 with win xp sp3) WLAN is built in Intel(R) PRO/Wireless 3945ABG. I will try updating to latest driver…

    Comment by Magnus — July 7, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  3. I have been having problems with my WinXP laptop not automatically going into standby mode for years! I went in an killed jqs.exe in task manager and bam! it now works!

    Thanks for the tip!

    Comment by D — September 19, 2012 @ 8:44 pm

  4. A thousand thanks for moving me to go look up my own
    research. Yours was way more indepth than mine.

    Comment by Monisha Vohra — October 23, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

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