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How to Improve Your Laptop Battery Life

If you own a laptop, you know that after a while, the battery is shot.  Unplug it from the wall and you will be scrambling for an outlet in no time flat.  Question is, how do you prevent this from happening – how do you make your battery last longer?

Modern laptop batteries are known as “Lithium-Ion”.  Lithium Ion is known as the “modern laptop battery”, and has many significant improvements over older batteries.  However, one major downside remains; they still wear out after 2-3 years.  There is no way to prevent the battery wearing out in this timeframe; however there are some tricks you can use that will help your laptop last longer.  After all, they are portable computers, and aren’t much fun tethered to the wall all the time.

The advice of, “let it die completely, then recharge it all the way to retrain it” is no longer applicable.  The “memory effect” or the need to “cycle” a battery by discharging it before recharging it again, is a hangover from the age of NiCad and NiMH batteries. Lithium-ion batteries don’t have a “memory”.  Time to try something else.

There is also no need to charge it, and then let it slowly drain completely as you use your laptop.  This is known as “cycling”, which also doesn’t apply to modern batteries.  In fact, it is actually recommended you leave the laptop plugged in all the time when you don’t need the battery.  This actually preserves the battery as modern laptops can determine the battery level.  If the battery is full, modern laptops will ignore the battery and run off of AC power, preserving the life of the battery.

Evolution of the “Smart Battery”

Modern batteries are smart.  They implement energy saving features, and precise reserve indicators.  The modern battery is quite a feat of engineering indeed; however they are still designed to wear out; like a car tire.  The best advice when it comes to modern batteries is to get smart about battery conservation.

There are some little things you can do that will make a big difference in your battery run time; here are a few examples:

Dim your screen. Screens consume the most power by far.  Every laptop will allow you to micromanage the brightness, so do so.  Taking your laptop somewhere well lit also helps, so you can work at a lower brightness level.

No man is an island, but a long lasting laptop is.  Turn off all antennas and external connections when not in use – Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 3G, and especially 4G LTE.  If your laptop is constantly searching for an outside connection, it will not last as long.  I have found temporarily disabling the adapters on the road works nicely.  It is very easy to turn them back on when you need them.

Keep your laptop cool: hot batteries don’t perform well.  If you can keep your laptop cool by not setting it down on a thick or soft surface, your laptop will stay cooler.  If your laptop stays cool, your battery will too.  Cool batteries hold a charge longer.

Remove all unused programs, and make sure there are no background programs sucking up power.  Any program running that you do not need is shortening the life of your battery.

No USB, DVD’s or CD’s.  Get in the habit of copying any program or file directly to your hard drive before working on it.  Accessing external media will reduce your run time, especially if it draws any power from your laptop; i.e. an external CD drive.

Also, don’t forget to reboot once a week at a minimum.  Deleting the temporary files that accrue in a session, and refreshing the registry will help your run time as well.

Use your laptop.  When not being used, or in storage, the battery will lose capacity.  Now, while granted capacity diminishes with age it also diminishes quicker without use.  “Self-Discharge” for Lithium Ion is around 2% a month of remaining capacity.

Avoid standby.  In reality, if your laptop is “hibernating” or in standby mode, the battery is being used.  If you aren’t going to use your laptop for a few hours, power it down, don’t just close the lid.

Why Build a Custom Computer?

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Buying New Stuff - (0 Comments)

Why Build a Custom Computer?

Building a custom computer doesn’t have to be expensive.  In fact, you can often build a great computer for less than you can buy one from a major manufacturer.  You get exactly what you want and need, and at a more competitive price.

Knowing exactly what you want; you can select components that will work synergistically with each other achieving optimal performance.  A custom computer will also probably significantly outlast a cheap name brand computer, if only because of superior build quality.  Most of the name brand manufactured computers nowadays are manufactured in bulk in China, and are designed to last a couple years at best.  Many custom built computers last much longer, which translates directly to a lower operating cost per year compared to a brand name computer.

There are many free how-to guides on the internet, and many websites that compare computer components, so you can read up on reviews and know exactly what you are getting with minimal effort.

Custom Built, Custom Use

Many people build their own computers, because nothing equitable is offered at a fair price.  Let’s say you want a computer for gaming.  Well you can spend several thousand dollars on a brand new gaming computer, or you can build your own.  If you build your own you can build it cheaper than you can buy it for, and at the same time upgrade it a later point in time if you desire.  You can easily build a top of the line gaming computer for under a thousand dollars that will last you for years to come and is of superior build quality.

Many people build computers for custom uses, such as trading, drafting, graphics editing, encoding video and of course; home entertainment.  Each of these computers will have specific needs that differ from each other, so proper planning is key.  It is best to determine what exactly you will be using the computer for ahead of time, before you spend any money, so you can be assured of individual component compatibility.

Budget

Competition is a beautiful thing.  Nowadays, with as many computer manufacturers as there currently are, getting quality components at fair prices is easy.  You will first need to pick a quality case, and a quality motherboard.  Then pick a compatible CPU, compatible RAM modules, a good quality hard drive, and any other drives you will need such an optical drive, or Blu-Ray Drive.  Once you have selected these, you will then need to select a quality power supply that will adequately handle all of your components with ease.  There are many free guides that go into great detail about building custom computers, and you will find the most difficult part in building the computer is often the selection of parts.  Everything fits together nicely once you actually start putting it together; just make sure you take reasonable precautions to prevent static electricity buildup.

A good solid, well-rounded computer will probably set you back around 800 – 1000 Dollars depending upon your needs.  Once you have assembled the computer, you will need to select an operating system.   Windows© is by far the most popular choice, and should suit your needs just fine.  If you are more experienced with computers, you might choose a free version of Linux for your needs.

The trick with building a custom computer is to map out everything in advance, so there are no surprises.  You should know exactly what it will cost beforehand, and also be certain that your chosen parts are compatible with each other.  People are often surprised how simple it is once they begin, and wish they had started sooner.  You might just find that custom computers are the solution to cheap brand name computers.