If there is one thing that every laptop owner needs to do then it has to be trying to find a feasible way to help retain as much battery life as possible.
In days of old a laptop battery life could stretch to 2 or 3 hours, but in more recent times the big tech companies have invested heavily in designing, creating and utilising batteries with a much better lifespan. Typically a modern laptop can be claimed to last 4-5 hours or more, but that number really depends on what you are using your laptop for. If you watch DVDs, play games or do any other processor-intensive tasks then you’ll likely not get anything close to this amount of time without having to plug your laptop in to charge.
We have compiled this list of useful tips and tricks to help you make the most out of your laptop’s battery life.
1. Backlight Levels
Keeping your laptop’s screen at 100% brightness is a great way to drain your battery. You will likely find keys on your keyboard that you can use to adjust the screen brightness. For watching DVDs you will no doubt want to keep that brightness level turned up high, but if you are using your favourite word processing program to finish up that all-important document for work then turning down the brightness shouldn’t inconvenience you too much and you’ll end up being able to work for longer.
2. Power Management
A Windows laptop will allow you to change your power management settings. Often your laptop manufacturer will include software that will control these settings, so it may be worth routing round to see if any power management software has already been supplied. If not then you can access these settings from Start > Control Panel. Setting your laptop to go to sleep if it isn’t used for 15 minutes would be a good start, but also try and pick a scheme where battery life rules over performance – this will mean that your laptop will run a little bit slower, but unless you are playing the latest first person shooter then you shouldn’t really notice the difference and you will really benefit from this boost in battery life.
3. Defragment Your Laptop
I remember back when I was young my Dad was obsessed with defragmenting the computer. It seemed like a menial task to me and I never really noticed any benefit. Things are a little bit different now though, as regularly defragmenting your laptop’s hard drive will tidy up all of your files, therefore making the laptop work less to retrieve them and perform general tasks, thus helping sustain battery life.
4. Unplug External Devices
Have a USB device plugged into your laptop that you aren’t using? Get it unplugged! Each device that you plug in is drawing power from your laptop’s battery. If you can live without your USB peripherals until you are able to plug your laptop into a power outlet then you’ll reap the rewards.
5. Turn off Wi-Fi
A laptop without Wi-Fi wouldn’t be worth buying, but if you aren’t accessing the Internet then you should consider disabling it. If you are watching DVDs on your laptop then do you really need to have your Wi-Fi turned on anyway? Turn it off and your battery may even last long enough for you to see the deleted scenes once your movie has ended.
6. Wipe The Makeup Off Windows
Many Windows users love the way that their operating system looks. They love the interface, they love the Aero effects, you can’t really blame them but these lovely graphics come at the expense of your poor battery. Consider turning them off by switching to the Windows Classic theme and see an increase not only in battery life but also in performance as this will also reduce your RAM usage.
7. Choose To Hibernate Rather Than Sleep
Many people, myself included, put their computer or laptop to sleep once they are finished using it, but did you know that sleep mode will only turn off the hard drive and the display? Your CPU is still working (although it does slow down) and your memory remains active, which both lead to reducing battery life. A better technique would be to put your laptop into “hibernation” which will save Windows’ current state but will completely shut down therefore saving that extra bit of battery life.
8. Don’t Fully Discharge Your Battery
This is something that a lot of people tend to do. They will use their battery until it dies and the battery is empty and then they’ll charge it up again, assuming that this will help it to keep its charge and last longer. While this was certainly true with NiMH batteries that used to ship with laptops several years ago, this certainly isn’t true with lithium-ion batteries that are shipped with modern laptops. With the lithium-ion batteries they are designed to be plugged in at any time, regardless of how much charge is left. Letting your battery completely drain won’t do it any good, so make sure you plug it in before the battery dies.
9. Tools and Tasks
Your laptop will no doubt be running lots of software in the background, especially if you bought it from a vendor that installs lots of their own software onto the laptop before you buy it. I bought a lovely Acer laptop that was slowed to a halt due to a lot of software that they bundled in that was running in the background. Disable this software and your processor and hard drive will have less work to do and you’ll be able to work for longer before a recharge. Better still, if you have just bought a laptop then consider wiping it and installing Windows again from scratch if you have the CD, as this will ensure that you start using the laptop with only the programs that Windows intended you to have.
10. Close Programs You Aren’t Using
Do you run programs like Word, Excel, Internet Explorer, iTunes and Outlook on your laptop? Once you’ve finished using a program then make sure that you close it until you need it again. Keeping countless programs running will consume memory and put more strain on your battery.
If you follow the steps above you probably won’t be able to double your laptop’s battery life, but you should see a few improvements. A lot of the tips are common sense, but I think we just need to be reminded of these things from time to time to make sure that we are getting the most out of our portable gadgets.
Image Credit: Cheon Fong Liew