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How to Improve Your Laptop Battery Life

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by admin in Portability

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The advice of, “let it die completely, then recharge it all the way to retrain it” is no longer applicable.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.

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