How to Tell - is my device off or just asleep

How to Tell: is this device off or asleep?

It can sometimes be difficult to tell if your device is off or asleep. Read on to find out more about the differences, and when you might choose to use one option over the other.

What is the difference between a device off and asleep?


Off mode is also called powering down. To turn a device completely off, you will have to initiate the action. On a computer for example, you will choose Shut Down or click on a power button.

On a tablet or phone, you will generally hold down the power button for an extended time until the shutdown confirmation pops up on the screen.

When in off mode, no apps can run at all and no power will be used (batteries do not hold a charge indefinitely even when there is no power drain, but a device turned off will maintain battery life much longer than a sleeping device).

In addition, to wake up a device that is off will require pressing the power button, and it will take longer to wake up than if the device had been asleep. When a device is turned back on, it will have no apps or documents open unless you have set it up to open certain things on startup.

In off mode, you will not get notifications. A phone will not ring, an alarm will not sound, and you will not hear anything when emails arrive.


In order to reduce power consumption and maintain privacy, all of our devices go dark after a period of non-use. A device may take 5 or 10 minutes or only 30 seconds, but the process is the same. The device’s screen will turn black and it will look like it is turned off. This is actually the sleep mode.

In sleep mode, the device will be able to wake up very quickly when you press on a key. Some apps may actually continue running in the background when the device is asleep.

In sleep mode, you will still receive notifications as set up in your settings. Your phone will ring and send alarms, and your emails will make a sound when they arrive. When you wake a device from sleep, it will look exactly as it did when it went to sleep. All of the apps and documents you had open when it went to sleep will still be open for you.

Do I need to turn it off?

Today’s devices are created to be available to us at all times day and night. This means that they do not need to be turned off every day. It is however useful to turn them off periodically. When a device is turned off it has a chance to go through the process of shutting down all of the apps and processes. This includes ones you can’t see that run in the background. Any documents that are open will need to be closed, and either saved or changes discarded, before the device turns off. In addition, it is a good time for the operating system to update itself and to run certain checks.

If you are having an issue with your device, if it is acting strangely, the first thing you should do is to turn it off and restart it and see if the issue continues. This simple process will correct many complex issues.

Scroll to Top