what is the hiberfil.sys file

What Is hiberfil.sys And Can You Delete It? [SOLVED]

If you’ve noticed a bloated file called hiberfil.sys hogging resources on your computer, you’re probably wondering what it is and whether you can delete it.

Below we cover what it is, whether you should delete it, and how to remove it.

How to Delete Hiberfil sys File Free Up LOTS of Hard Drive Space

What Is The hiberfil.sys File?

According to the Forensics Wiki, hiberfil.sys is used by Microsoft Windows to save your computer’s current state as part of the power-saving, hibernation process.

Interestingly, the size of the hiberfil.sys does not share a one-to-one size ratio to the available, or total RAM of the computer.

According to Super User, long story short, you can delete it, but it’s not a simple process and you will no longer be able to hibernate your computer.

Besides deleting the files, you’d have to deactivate your computer’s hibernate option as well as the virtual memory use of your Windows OS.

How Does It Work?

According to TechRepublic, when you activate the Windows Hibernate function, Windows will take a snapshot of your current operating system session (things like your open files and active programs) and then it will write all of that information to your computer’s hard drive.

This hibernate feature was engineered to make shut downs and restarts faster on laptops, as well as conserving battery power.

Difference Between Sleep And Hibernation

Sleep Mode: This Windows setting will save your current session to RAM and then shift Windows into a low-power state. It’s best used when you’re taking a short break from computer use- you can jump right back, almost instantly, into using your computer.

Hibernation Mode: This goes a step further. It employs the hard drive, instead of the RAM, to store the session. With RAM, if the battery dies, you’ll lose the session.

With hibernation, it does a temporary save to the hard drive and then shuts the laptop or computer down. A use case could be- you unplug your desktop computer for 2 weeks, boot it back up, and be able to resume your session right where you had left it off.

Should you Hibernate, Shut down, or put your PC to sleep?

Disabling Windows Hibernation

According to TechRepublic, it is possible to manually remove hiberfil.sys, but it’ll just return. To completely eliminate the file, you have to disable the Windows Hibernate function. This can be done by using either the Windows GUI or from your command line.

Windows XP Removal

On Windows XP computer systems, it is simple to disable Hibernate with the GUI by applying the following steps:

  1. Open up the Control Panel and navigate to Power Options
  2. Choose the Hibernate tab in the Power Options Properties dialog box
  3. Make sure the Enable Hibernation checkbox isn’t checked
  4. Select OK

Should you prefer to deactivate Hibernate by means of the command line, you need to use the guide below.

Windows Vista and Windows 7 Removal

Totally deactivating Hibernate with the GUI on Windows Vista and Windows 7 is quite a bit harder than on Windows XP, according to TechRepublic.

The Hibernate configurations are still kept under the Control Panel’s Power Options applet, however, they are hidden under each power plan’s advanced power settings submenu.

The only real guaranteed means of deactivating Hibernate, and therefore getting rid of hiberfil.sys, on Windows Vista and Windows 7, is by the command prompt and following the steps below:

  1. Open up a command prompt with admin rights.
  2. Enter “powercfg.exe -h off”
  3. Exit the command prompt.

Once you untick the checkbox or perform the above powercfg.exe command fix, Windows should delete hiberfil.sys.

Video Tutorial: How to Delete Hiberfil.sys File & Free Up Hard Drive Space (Windows 7)

According to the video creator, you can free up a lot of hard drive space if you delete the hiberfil.sys file.

Windows 8 Removal

According to LifeWire, the following should work for Windows 8 operating systems.

  1. Press the Windows Key + X
  2. Utilize the Power Users task menu to open up the Elevated Command Prompt
  3. Then press and hold the Windows Key and tap the X key to open up the Power Users Tasks menu
  4. Then you’ll select Command Prompt (Admin) from the menu
  5. Select Yes if a User Account Control window shows up asking for authorization to proceed. The Command Prompt window should now be open
  6. Type in powercfg.exe /hibernate off into the Command Prompt window and then press Enter
  7. Now Close the Command Prompt window
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Windows 10 Removal

According to LifeWire, the following should work for Windows 10 operating systems.

One way to open an Elevated Command Prompt in Windows 10 is from the Start menu.

  1. First, you’ll click Start
  2. Type Command
  3. You’ll see Command Prompt shown as the top result
  4. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator
  5. Click Yes should a User Account Control dialog box appears that requests permission to go on
  6. The Command Prompt window will then open
  7. Type in powercfg.exe /hibernate off into the Command Prompt window and then press Enter
  8. Close the Command Prompt window

Video Tutorial: How to Delete Hiberfil.sys File & Free Up Hard Drive Space (Windows 10)

How To Re-enable It

To reactivate the Windows Hibernate function, merely recheck the Enable Hibernation setting located beneath Power Option Properties or enter “powercfg.exe -h on” at the command prompt while you have administrative privileges.

Security Risk?

According to one Super User, the hibernation backup files are a potential security risk.

In the event that you get hacked, there could be a scenario where the computer attacker could get information from your hiberfil in your hard drive. Additionally, any info stored in your RAM whenever you hibernate your personal computer will go to hiberfil.

There could be an ID cookie, private key, or other compromising personal information.

This security-conscious user explained that while it does not resemble an ordinary text file, the binary files potentially can be read with specific software. There is nothing wrong with getting rid of hiberfill, the only real negative thing is that you just won’t be able to hibernate your personal computer.

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