There you are, working on a huge project and the deadline is quickly approaching. You are working away and feeling better and better about the outcome when suddenly a window pops up with a message you did not want to see. The laptop battery you are using is losing power, and you don’t have the charger. The groove you are in suddenly comes to a screeching halt and all your inspiration is now replaced with frustration.
Chances are you have been in this situation before and in the heat of the moment you wish there could be something done to maximize battery life while on the go. How do you make sure your battery has enough life to last as long possible? These 6 tips will help keep your laptop up and running longer.
1. Top Off When You Can
Think of your laptop battery like gas in your car. Would you take the risk of driving through the Mojave Desert on a quarter tank of gas? Probably not. Your laptop should be no different. If you know you are going to be off your charger for an extended period of time, make sure you top off your battery before you leave your home or office. Many people believe you can hurt the battery by not draining it to empty first, but this is not true with the lithium ion batteries laptops use today. The battery can sense when it is fully charged and will actually stop charging once it is full. As an added benefit, keeping your battery fully charged actually ends up helping your battery in the long run by lengthening its lifespan.
2. Power Settings
A common and simple way to extend your battery life is to look at your power settings and edit them to your preference. Because laptops can be continuously plugged in, or be mobile, there are two options you need to look at. Accessing your power settings is as simple as going to the Control Panel. Once you reach the Control Panel, click Hardware and Sounds, then Power Options. This is where you determine your power plan.
There are three main settings you can change in order to lengthen the life of your charge. When unplugged make sure your screen will turn off after a short amount of inactivity such as 5 or 10 minutes. Also, set an amount of time for when your computer will go to sleep when inactive. Although quick and simple, this will definitely increase the amount of time your battery will stay alive.
3. Close Unused Programs
As well as keeping your computer quick, using only the programs you need will help extend battery life. A lot of the time programs are open and running in the background without the user knowing. When unplugged, check to see what programs are running such as iTunes, browsers, email software, VoIP phones, update agents. etc. Shut down all unnecessary programs and you will assuredly be extending your operating time away from your charger.
4. Hibernate Instead of Sleep
Although the word sleep may lead you to believe this will keep your battery level full, in actuality putting your computer to sleep will not help sustain your battery’s life very much. When you set your computer to sleep mode the display and hard drive turn off, but your computers memory is still active which in turn slows the CPU down. Keeping your CPU active will definitely shorten battery life due to the amount of power it draws.
Instead, set your computer to hibernate mode for when you would like to save power. Just like bears during winter, hibernation is the equivalent of resting for your laptop. Putting your computer into hibernation mode will save the current state the computer is in and shut down completely. When you come back to your computer and power back up, the computer will boot up to where you last left it, including the charge level of your battery. Keep in mind the hibernate mode varies on different computers so be sure to be aware of what your computer will do before initiating hibernate mode.
5. Disable Unnecessary Devices
Similar to keeping unnecessary programs open in the background, laptop devices can put a serious drain on your battery. Devices such as CD or DVD drives, WiFi, Bluetooth, USB sticks, and even backlit keyboards all contribute to draining your battery. Many laptops are built with hardware switches to disable the WiFi and Bluetooth capabilities. When you are not charging your laptop make sure you are proactive by disabling every device you do not need.
6. Reduce Hard Drive Usage
A laptop continuously spins the hard drive and the faster and longer it spins will have a significant impact on your battery. A simple tune up by defragging your hard drive regularly will stop the drive from constantly spinning and looking for data. Another option is to change your hard drive to a solid state drive. SSD’s do not use any moving parts and consume less power than disc drives. Additionally, adding more RAM allows your computer to use less virtual memory and more physical memory, which means your hard drive will need to be accessed less.
Following these tips, being proactive, and learning what consumes the majority of your battery will help to make sure you are never low on battery again when you absolutely need it most.