In Windows XP Pro, this menu item is more powerful than its name implies. Choosing it opens a dialog box that offers several variations on “shut down” (see Figure 2-6).
Standby puts your computer to “sleep.” This special state of PC consciousness reduces the amount of electricity the computer uses. It remains in suspended animation until you use the mouse or keyboard to begin working again. (This feature is available only if your computer offers it and you’ve turned it on in the Power Options program in the Control Panel.)
How the PC sleeps depends on its power-saving features. Usually, the hard drive stops spinning and the screen goes dark. Whatever programs or documents you were working on remain in memory.
This information is stored only in memory, not on your hard drive. If your computer loses power, you lose all of the information that was stored in memory. To be absolutely safe, save your open documents before putting the PC in Standby.
If you’re using a laptop on battery power, Standby is a real boon. When the flight attendant hands over your microwaved chicken teriyaki, you can take a food break without closing all your programs or shutting down the computer. And best of all, Standby mode consumes only the barest trickle of battery power.
Use Standby when you want to put your computer to sleep on cue. It’s worth noting, however, that you can set the computer to stand by automatically whenever you haven’t used the mouse or keyboard ...