Computer Tip: How to conserve your laptop battery

Suggestions

Don’t Run It Down to Empty
Most laptops probably won’t allow you to set the critical battery level at 0 percent–and you shouldn’t try. Squeezing every drop of juice out of a lithium ion battery (the type used in today’s laptops) strains and weakens it. Doing this once or twice won’t kill the battery, but the cumulative effect of frequently emptying your battery will shorten its lifespan.

Keep It Cool
Heat breaks down the battery, and reduces its overall life. When you use your laptop, make sure the vents are unblocked. Never work with the laptop on pillows or cushions. If possible, put it on a raised stand that allows for plenty of airflow. Also, clean the vents every so often with a can of compressed air. You can buy this for a few dollars at any computer store. Be sure to follow the directions on the can, and do this only when the notebook is off.
Some people recommend you store it in the refrigerator, inside a plastic bag. While you should keep a battery cool, the last thing you want is a wet battery, and condensation is a real danger in the fridge. Instead, store it in a dry place at room temperature. A filing cabinet works fine.

Use It Every Once In A While
You don’t want the battery to go too long without exercise or let it empty out entirely. If you go without the battery for more than two months, put it in the PC and use it for a few hours, then remove it again.

Give It a Rest
If you’re going to be working exclusively on AC power for a week or more, remove the battery first. Otherwise, you’ll be wearing out the battery–constantly charging and discharging it–at a time when you don’t need to use it at all. You’re also heating it up (see “Keep It Cool,” above).
You don’t want it too empty when you take it out. An unused battery loses power over time, and you don’t want all the power to drain away, so remove it when it’s at least half-charged.
If you’ve never removed your laptop’s battery and don’t know how, check your documentation. (If you don’t have it, you can probably find it online.) The instructions generally involve turning the laptop upside-down and holding down a button while you slide out the battery.

Longer Life Between Charges

Dim your screen
Your laptop’s backlight requires a lot of juice. Keep it as dim as you can comfortably read it.

Shut off unneeded hardware
Turn off your Bluetooth, and if you’re not using the Internet, turn off your Wi-Fi receiver, as well. Don’t use an external mouse or other device. And muting the PC’s sound system not only saves power, it avoids annoying everyone else in the café.

Avoid multitasking
Run as few programs as you can get away with. If possible, stick to the one application (word processor, browser, or whatever) you’re currently using, plus your antivirus and firewall in the background. And if you’re not on the Internet, you don’t need those two.

Avoid multimedia
Save chores like photo editing and watching old Daily Show videos for when you have AC power. And if you must listen to music, use your iPod or mp3 player (or similar device).

Know when to sleep and when to hibernate

You need to think about when you want to save power by sending your laptop into Standby or Sleep mode, and when you want to hibernate it.
There’s a difference. XP’s Standby and Vista and Windows 7’s Sleep modes keep your PC on, using some power, but less of it than in normal use. Hibernate saves the PC’s state to the hard drive, then shuts it off entirely, so that no power is used.
On the other hand, Windows takes much longer–sometimes minutes–to go into and come out of hibernation. And those are minutes that the battery is draining heavily and you can’t work.
XP’s Standby mode isn’t really all that efficient. If your laptop will be inactive for more than about half an hour, hibernate it. Otherwise, use Standby.
But Vista and Windows 7 do a much better job with their Sleep mode. Don’t bother hibernating your PC unless you think you’re going to go more than two or three hours without using it.
Myth: Adding RAM saves battery life. True, more RAM means less hard drive access, and the hard drive uses a lot of electricity. But RAM uses electricity as well, and unless you’re doing a lot of multitasking (not a good idea when you’re on battery power), more RAM won’t reduce hard drive use.
Warning: If you put your laptop in sleep mode, make sure the battery is [near] fully charged. As your applications opened are saved in memory, it is using battery power. If you run out of power, everything you were running at the time is gone – but not your data except what you hadn’t saved. Likewise, if your laptop is in sleep mode and there is a power failure, the laptop will switch to the battery. But if the battery is too weak, everything you were running at the time is gone – but not your data except what you hadn’t saved.

[Note: These tips – it is still your decision to do it – were accumulated from various sources. If you battery is already “on the way out” it will just prolong it a bit. Don’t expect the battery life in a charge to improve.]

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About ebraiter
computer guy

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