Compatible Parts such as Battery life is a major issue for most laptop users. It is annoying to know that after a couple months of receiving your new computer, the battery life isn’t where it used to be. A laptop with only an hour of battery becomes bound to its charger, since it is almost worthless without it. There are a few things you can do for your battery and to your computer to improve performance and life from your battery.
Being ‘Nice’ to your Battery
The battery that comes with your laptop is more than likely going to stay with it for the rest of the laptop’s life. Most batteries last about three to five years, which at that point many people just want to replace the laptop. So, they will just deal with how the battery acts, until the new computer arrives. This means that keeping your current battery in good condition is crucial. The sad fact is that capacity of the battery will suffer from decreased performance as time goes on. You can’t stop it from happening, but here are some things you can do to slow it down.
- Do not try to cycle the battery all the way down. This used to be an issue with past battery types. Those needed to be used until they were almost dead before recharging. However, the new lithium ion batteries that most electronics have do not ‘like’ to be discharged fully. A fully discharge increases stress in the battery and actually lowers the number of times the battery can be used.
- Stay out of extreme temperatures. Batteries are best used at a place where the temperature does not change frequently. This does not mean you cannot take your laptop to class during the winter or summer months. Leaving it in a hot car or leaving it in the direct sunlight, can hurt the life of a battery or other laptop part . This especially applies when charging a battery.
- If the battery will not be used for weeks, store it. Many battery manufactures suggest using the battery until it is around 40% remaining and then storing it in a cool dry place. This will help to keep the battery from draining too much when not in use. Storing a fully charged battery for long periods of time is not suggested. Taking a fully charged extra on the road with you is good, but leaving it on your computer desk for two months is probably not.
Adjusting your Laptop
Just as there are ways to help your battery with some common knowledge, there are different things that can be set on your laptop to save the battery. There are some good tips and tricks for getting those extra minutes on your laptop.
- Dim your screen. This is probably the number one culprit for eating your battery life on your laptop. Android shows what has been using your battery since it was last fully shut down. It is very common to see the screen being number one or two. This is the same truth to laptop keyboards . Dimming the backlight to a point that is not too dim will greatly increase your battery.
- Modify your computer power options.
This is also a key one to remember. Laptops now usually come with different power options like: High Performance, Balanced, Battery Saver, etc… Modifying these settings can really help to save your battery life. You could change the battery saving mode to have a max processer power of 30% and screen brightness of 25%. This would lessen the amount of power that the processer and screen use considerably. There are also timers that can be set to turn your computer off if it has been running idle for a given time. Overall the power menu is a great place to save power. This can be found on Windows 7 laptops at: Control Panel –> Hardware and Sound –> Power Options
- Turn off all background programs that don’t need to be running. There are many things that like to run in the background of your laptop. This could be iTunes, Adobe flash player, update managers, etc… The computer has to keep track of all of these when they are open. The more that are open, the more they draw from your battery. Closing programs in the task manager can help take the load off your computer.
- Run programs on the hard drive rather than external devices. When possible try to download data to your internal hard drive before using it. This is especially true with optical drives since it takes a good chunk of power to run those. Flash drives can also be a good option to save power. Flash drives have no moving parts, so they can save power over using a hard drive. However, there is an exception to this. For example, if you want to play songs from an external device; but your media player is on the hard drive, then both will be running at the same time. This will cost extra power vs. running on just one.
- Avoid multitasking. When battery life is crucial, the fewer programs that are open, the better. Try to use one program at a time and then close it to free the resources it was using on your system. This will lower the total amount of power it would have used if you had been multitasking five programs at once.
- Use few external devices. The more things that are plugged into the ports on your laptop, the more power they are taking. Not using your mouse or external CD drives will save power when you cannot charge your laptop. Also, when the computer is not in use, the external devices are usually still consuming power. A good example is how a mouse can ‘wake-up’ a computer from stand-by mode.
- Let the computer go into hibernate over sleep. Hibernate allows the computer to fully shut down while saving where it was. Sleep still requires power to keep the same state that it had before. Putting your computer to sleep is still a great option vs. leaving the computer running. Sleep allows for many things to be shut off, but if you will not be using your laptop for a long stretch, hibernate will save your battery more.
- Disable your Wi-Fi adapter when not in use. Your Wi-Fi adapter is always searching for networks. This is normally a good thing except when you are trying to save battery life. If what you are doing does not require internet, then turning this off will save a chunk of power.
Overall your laptop battery length is an issue for everyone. Using some of these tricks can help to get those few extra minutes of life.