Windows Sleep and Hibernate

I like to keep my computer on all the time. However I want the lights to go off at night so it does not bother anyone. I could shut the thing down. But it takes a long time to boot up. Windows provides the options of both Sleep and Hibernate. But what the heck do these things mean?

Let's start with sleep. This has been called suspend or standby before. The state of the computer is kept in memory. So it does draw some power during the sleep. The good thing is that the transition back on (the resume) is fast. Hibernate writes the computer state to disk. Then it goes to a state that draws no power. The state is written to file "hiberfile.sys", whose size depends on the amount of RAM you have. The hibernate state is slower to resume than sleep, but faster than a whole boot up.