- If your laptop enters hibernation while you’re playing games, there’s likely an issue with your battery or CPU.
- Your laptop’s CPU might be getting too hot while you’re gaming, forcing it to shut down.
- You should also make sure that your laptop isn’t set to automatically hibernate after a set amount of time.
When you close your laptop’s lid or just leave it alone for long enough, it usually goes into “Hibernation” mode. When it’s hibernating, you can’t use the computer, but it saves power.
Your laptop is never supposed to start hibernating while you’re using it, and especially not when you’re playing a game. But if it does, there are usually a few likely reasons why — although not all of them are easy to fix.
Here are six common reasons why your laptop is unexpectedly hibernating, and how to fix them.
Your Power Options aren’t set up correctly
Windows gives you a lot of ways to customize how much power your laptop uses, and how long it takes for the screen to turn off. Both of these factors might be the reason your laptop keeps hibernating.
In Windows 10
First, right-click the battery icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen, then select Power Options. This will open the menu that lets you pick your laptop’s current power plan. The exact plans that your laptop offers will differ depending on what brand and model you’re using.
If you’re going to be playing games, you should make sure that you’re using whatever the most powerful power plan is. This will use up more battery power, but lets your system run more efficiently.
But no matter what plan you select, go ahead and click the Change plan settings option next to it. In the menu that opens, you can change how long it takes for your laptop to hibernate.
Normally, these time limits shouldn’t be an issue while you’re gaming — again, your computer should never hibernate while you’re using it — but just to be safe, it’s a good idea to make the time limits longer.
Next, head back to the Power Options menu and click Choose what the power buttons do in the top-left corner. This lets you pick exactly what happens if you ever press your laptop’s Power button, Sleep button (if it has one), and if you close the lid. Make sure none of them are set to Hibernate.
You should also click the option at the top that says Change settings that are currently unavailable, then uncheck the Hibernate option. This will make sure your laptop won’t hibernate.
If you want to go even farther, you can totally disable hibernation at the system level by opening the Command Prompt app and entering “powercfg.exe /hibernate off.”
In Windows 11
Windows 11 has fewer power options than Windows 10, but it still has some settings to customize.
First, right-click the battery icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen and select Power and sleep settings.
In the menu that opens, use the drop-down menu next to Power mode, and pick the Best performance option. This will make sure that your computer is running as well as it possibly can.
Next, click the Screen and sleep option. Change the time limits so your laptop doesn’t go to sleep too soon.
Your laptop’s battery is too worn out
Whether your laptop cost $100 or $1000, no laptop battery lasts forever. As time goes on, your battery will gradually lose the ability to hold a charge. This means that charging takes longer, and the laptop dies faster.
If it gets too worn out, your battery might even reach a point that it dies faster than it can charge — especially while you’re running programs that put a lot of strain on the system, like most modern video games. So even if your laptop is plugged in, it’ll eventually hit a critical battery level and go into hibernation.
There aren’t very many ways to fix this, outside of replacing the battery altogether. And depending on what kind of laptop you have, that might not even be an option; not all laptops offer replaceable parts. Check with your laptop’s manufacturer for the full details.
It’s not a long term fix, and it comes with some risks, but you can pull a bit more life out of your battery by turning off the critical battery thresholds.
Normally, your laptop will hibernate before the battery runs out completely so you don’t lose any data. Turning off these thresholds removes that safety, so the computer stays on until it absolutely runs out of power. This will give you some more playtime, but leaves you at risk of losing unsaved progress when your computer turns off.
To do it, search your PC for Edit power plan. In the menu that opens, click Change advanced power settings.
In the Advanced settings menu, expand the Battery option at the very bottom, then expand the Critical battery level option. Set both percentages to 0%.
Your CPU is getting too hot
This is one of the more likely culprits, especially if your laptop is older, or its fans are obstructed.
When you play video games on your laptop, the CPU (and GPU) starts heating up. This is why your computer has internal fans: To help push out the hot air and help the internal components stay cool.
But laptop fans aren’t very powerful, and it’s easy to obstruct the air vents. This means that while gaming, your laptop’s CPU will get hotter than a normal PC’s will.
And if your CPU gets too hot, it’ll force your computer to hibernate in order to protect itself from damage.
The only ways to stop this — aside from playing games that aren’t as resource-intensive — is to keep your computer as cool as possible.
While you’re playing, keep your laptop elevated with its bottom exposed. This is where most of the air vents are, and they need open space to work. Consider buying a laptop stand with no bottom, or with extra fans included.
If it’s possible, occasionally take time to open your laptop’s bottom half and clear out any dust or dirt inside. These make the internal components hotter and can clog up the fans and vents. You might need to bring the laptop to a repair shop to do this.
That same repair shop might also replace your CPU’s thermal paste, the thick gel that helps your CPU diffuse heat. It usually dries up after a couple of years, making it easier for the CPU to reach dangerous temperatures.
And even if your CPU’s temperature isn’t the problem, it’s always worth installing a program to help you measure your computer’s heat.
Your drivers aren’t working properly
Many of your computer’s most important processes are controlled by drivers. These are pieces of software that tell certain programs or hardware components how to run.
Like all software, drivers occasionally need updates. If your drivers go for too long without updates — or if some get updates and others stay outdated — you’re likely to run into problems. And one of these problems might be your laptop unexpectedly hibernating while you’re trying to play games.
If the hibernation only triggers while you’re playing games, that’s a sign that your display drivers — the drivers that control your graphics card — are having issues.
Different drivers update in different ways, but you can manage most of them through your PC’s Device Manager. If your PC has an NVIDIA graphics card, you might need a separate app too.
If all else fails, reinstalling Windows is a simple — but not usually quick — way to clear out corrupted data.
The game you’re playing is glitched
This isn’t very likely, but there’s a chance that the game you’re trying to play is so glitched that it’s screwing with your computer’s power settings. This can sometimes happen after you’ve installed buggy mods, or mods that conflict with one another.
Does the random hibernation only trigger while you’re playing a specific game? If so, that game is probably the culprit. Either try to change its settings somehow to avoid the hibernation crashes, or uninstall the game and walk away.
You may have a virus
If we’d written this article 15 years ago, this would be one of the most likely scenarios. Nowadays, with built-in antivirus software better than we’ve ever had before, it’s much rarer.
But computer viruses are still a threat, and can still wreak havoc on your system. Left to spread, it’s not hard for a virus to force your computer into hibernation randomly.
Every PC comes with Microsoft Defender preinstalled. Make sure that it’s turned on, and that you’re running virus scans regularly. Despite being free, Defender is one of the best antivirus programs out there, so it should be able to catch and remove whatever virus is hiding in your system.