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Tips to Extend your Laptop Battery Life by Priyanka ,  May 19, 2013

The Truth About Battery Life

The advertised life of any laptop battery is always much longer then the amount of continuous use you can draw from it. In fact, you can really only expect half the promoted duration when running the laptop at full performance power. 

Limiting Mechanical Use

You should also limit the use of the mechanical parts of your laptop as much as possible. This means no reading from or writing to CD's or DVD's.
You should also avoid copying large amounts of data to or from your HDD; this will cause your disk to spin continuously, draining the battery faster. 

Tips for proper battery care:

  1. Pay attention to the environmental temperature – Heat is the main reason for depletion and malfunctioning of Li-Ion batteries. Don’t leave your laptop under direct sunlight; don’t keep it on while inside your bag, etc.
  2. Don't over charge your battery: Although some laptops have an over charge protection, your battery will heat up if you constantly keep it connected to the charger. Heat is one of the reasons for battery malfunctions. If you know you're about to be connected to the charger for a long period of time, remove the battery from the laptop. 
  3. Before taking your battery out of your laptop, make sure it is charged to a level of 40% and store it in a cool place.
  4. Be sure to use the right AC-adapter – Using the wrong AC-adapter may cause an overload and damage both the laptop and your battery.
  5. Clean your air vents once in a while to maintain an easy flow of heat out of your laptop. Blocked air vents will cause the laptop’s temperature to rise, thus reducing the life of you battery. In addition, try to position your laptop in such a way that its air vents are not blocked.   
  6. Once in a while, clean the contacts of both the laptop and the battery. In order to do that, use a plain cloth and a small amount of rubbing alcohol.

Laptops have an advantage over smaller electronics when it comes to the battery. They have more room to put a power source in a laptop than phones or portable media players.

But as applications become increasingly demanding and your work requires more and more mobility, it's very possible that your laptop battery still isn't up to snuff.

Try these tips to prolong your battery life. Can you make it through the work day on a single charge?

  • Keep your laptop battery cool. Battery power saps more quickly when the battery is hot. Keep vents clear and don’t put your laptop on a pillow or other surface that will cover vents and trap heat.
  • Don’t keep your laptop plugged in. If you rarely unplug your laptop, you’re leaving it in a state of perpetual charge at 100 percent. That's bad for the battery’s long-term health. Unplug it on occasion and let the battery drain.
  • Put your computer to sleep when not in use. If you're taking a break, let your computer take one as well.
  • Remove the battery if you’re working at your desk for a while. When you remove it, don't store it fully charged. Aim for the middle: between 40 and 50 percent.
  • Buy an extra battery. Keep a spare battery on hand in case you can't get to a power outlet.
  • Close nonessential programs. The more your computer does, the more battery power it requires. Close any programs or background applications you're not using.
  • Disable wifi. Obviously there are times that having wireless internet is required, but for your next presentation or writing marathon, save your battery (and your focus) by turning it off.
  • Turn off Bluetooth. Turn off your laptop's Bluetooth when you're not connected to a phone or other peripheral.
  • Disable screen savers. Complex moving images are tough on your battery. Don't opt in for them.
  • Change power options. Macs and PCs have built-in functions to help you maximize battery life and efficiency. You can set the computer to effectively balance features like auto-sleep and screen brightness to make sure you're productive at your laptop all day without worrying about the battery. 

It’s no secret that as the usage of a laptop increases, its battery life diminishes. While there has been some development in the type of batteries, battery life is something which users continue to complain about.

Obviously, the type of operating system has a lot to do with the battery performance. The newer operating systems, like Windows 7 are rich in graphics and hence consume more battery.

This article talks about some useful tips and techniques to extend your Windows laptop’s battery life. Mind you, it does mean doing away with certain nice appearance related features. But if you are a performance freak, it shouldn’t bother you.

The tips are written with Windows Vista/7 in mind but most of them are general techniques and should work in all kinds of laptops.

1. Decrease the screen brightness

More the screen brightness, more the battery consumed by your laptop. To decrease it, click on the battery icon on the system tray and select “More power options”.

extend laptop battery life power options

Power options window will open, move the screen brightness (given at the bottom) slider to left. Note that  working with less screen brightness is also good for your eyes.

screen brightness

2. Avoid using screensavers

You left your PC for sometime without any activity. Screensaver starts playing after some time. It consumes the battery so it is better to turn it off.

Right click on your desktop and select Personalize.

personalize desktop

Now on the bottom right, click on “Screen Saver”.

screen saver1

Click on Screen Saver drop down and select “None”. Click OK.

screen saver

3. Defrag from time to time

Defragmentation makes your hard drive more efficient which results in a fast hard drive and hence less battery consumption. You can defrag your hard disk using Windows inbuilt Disk defragmenter or using external tool such as Defraggler.

To use Windows Disk Defragmenter, click on “Start” button and type “Disk defragmenter” (without quotes) in the search box and press Enter key.

disk defragmenter

Disk defragmenter window will appear. Now click on “Configure schedule” to schedule the defragmentation process.

schedule defragmenter

Now select the frequency, day, time and disks from the given drop downs and press OK.

disk defragmenter schedule

4. Disable unnecessary startup applications

Some applications unnecessarily get added on the startup menu thereby increasing system’s booting time. For example programs like Adobe reader, Zune, iTunes and Google desktop search start by default and keep running in the background..

You can use Msconfig to stop unnecessary Windows programs from starting up automatically.

5. Remove external USB devices

USB devices are known to drain the battery. If any USB device ( external hard drive, pen drive, mouse), memory card, iPod or iPhone is connected and you are not using it,  then remove it.

eject external drive

6. Add more RAM

Windows comes with virtual memory feature in which it uses hard disk memory when it runs out of RAM. This feature ultimately results in usage of hard disk and load on laptop battery. To avoid this you should increase your RAM according to your requirement.

7. Avoid running CD/DVD

If you are running your laptop on battery then avoid using CD/DVD because it draws more battery power. It’s better to rip DVD and then watch it when the laptop’s on battery.

8. Sleep is good, but hibernation is better

Standby or sleep state which is also known as power saving state is a nice feature which lets you bring your computer to idle state. You can quickly resume your work anytime by pressing keys of your computer. It uses a small amount of power while its in the sleep state.

It is advisable to use hibernate mode instead of sleep because sleep consumes slight power in comparison to hibernate which consumes no power, saves all your work and resumes from where you stopped it.

9. Optimize the power option

Power option in Windows has different settings to save battery life. To go to power option, click on battery icon in the system tray and select power option.

power option

Now click on “Change power settings”.

power option settings

Here you can decide when your computer will dim the display or when it turns off the display while it is on battery. Also you can decide the time after which it will go to the sleep state.

You can also make use of “Advanced power settings”. Click on the link given below (see the screenshot).

windows power plan

On advanced power window you will find many options to optimize your laptop for a better battery life. For example you can pause the slide show when it is running on battery.

Note: It is advisable not to play with settings if you don’t know what you are doing. It might result in unnecessary issues with your laptop.

advance power options

10. Keep the laptop at a cool place

This is a no-brainer. If the laptop’s kept in a room with low temperature, its fan will have to do less work to dissipate the heat. That’ll put less load on the battery and hence prolong its life.

11. Screen resolution

Low screen resolution consumes less battery in comparison to high screen resolution. To change the resolution right click on desktop and select “Screen resolution”. Windows Vista users can find this option under “Personalize”.

screen resolution

Now move the slider down to decrease the screen resolution. You can also choose from the drop down option.

screen resolution

12. Disable Aero feature

Aero feature is responsible for translucent glass design and attractive window colors. Turning it off saves your battery resources.  Right click on your desktop and select “Personalize”. Now click on “Window color” at the bottom.

windows color

Uncheck the box next to “Enable transparency”.

disable aero

13. Switch off Wireless

If you are not connected with any wireless network then it is better to switch off wireless. Most of the laptops have a wireless switch that let you quickly turn it off.

14. Adjust Visual Effects

Visual effects also consume battery power so it is a good idea to switch it to best performance setting. Type “adjust performance” and press “Enter”.

adjust performance

In performance options window, go to “Visual Effects” tab. Now select the option “Adjust for best performance”. It will turn off all the effects that enhance the visual performance of your PC.

visual effects windows

15. Disable search Index

It’s better idea to disable search index feature in Windows. You can use programs like Ultrasearch as its alternative.

Click on “Start” button and type indexing options in the search box. Press “Enter” key.

indexing option

Now click on Modify.

indexing option1

Here you have to uncheck all the given boxes so that Windows can’t perform extra work to index all the files at these locations.

index location windows

16. Turn off Scheduled tasks

If you have scheduled a task on your laptop to start automatically at a specific time then you have to take care that your task won’t occur at a time when your laptop is running on battery.

To see the scheduled tasks and time when they occur, click on Start button and type Task scheduler in the search box. Press Enter. It will open the task scheduler window.

17. Get your laptop’s vent cleaned

Dust causes your laptop vents to close which results in blockage of area from where the heat is released. It causes more heat and more work load on fan. To avoid it, get them cleaned at frequent intervals.

Extending the Overall Life

The easiest way to give your battery an early death is to damage it. And the two most common causes of damage are from overheating and using an AC adapter with the wrong voltage. For that, make sure to check the voltage of your adapter, especially if using a replacement adapter. Here's how you prevent overheating:

  1. Use a cooling pad when using a notebook computer on your lap.
  2. Avoid propping your laptop on a pillow, blanket, or other soft surface that can heat up or block cooling fans.
  3. Clean your desk. It sounds strange, but if you have a dusty, dirty desk, that dust will get into the vents and clog the cooling fan. Once the dust is inside your laptop, it is much harder to remove. You can try blasting it out with canned air, but you run the risk of damaging internal components. You can also remove the vent and clean out the grit, but remember that taking apart your laptop can void the warranty. So clean your desk at least once a week, if not daily.
  4. Try not to store your laptop in a place where the air temperature exceeds 80 degrees Fahrenheit, such as a hot car or an outdoor patio. And if your laptop heats up or is cold, let it return to room temperature before starting up.
  5. Consider taking your battery out when using your laptop plugged into AC power. Just make sure to keep the contacts clean. If you need to clean them, use rubbing alcohol.
  6. For lithium ion batteries, you do not need to discharge them fully and recharge constantly. Since they don't have the same "memory" as older nickel-metal hydride batteries, it is actually better to discharge a lithium ion only partially before recharging. You need to do a full discharge only about every 30 charges.
Making sure your laptop is ready to run at all times and in any location is important for mobile office professionals. Help protect and extend your laptop battery life with these simple steps.

Here's How:

1. Use the correct recharging procedure for your laptop. Only use the power cord that came with your laptop or an authorized replacement.

2. Follow correct maintenance for your laptop battery when not in use. Don’t leave it in direct sunlight, areas where it will be exposed to extreme temperatures such as car trunks.

3. Use your laptop power management features. The system will run at lower processor speeds when enabling power management features and it will go into "sleep" mode faster when inactive.

4. Buy laptop batteries with internal processors such as Li-Ion batteries.

5. Non Li-Ion batteries must be fully discharged and then recharged every 2-3 weeks.

6. If you don’t use your laptop for a period of time, you must fully discharge then recharge the battery.