Rechargeable batteries have become so vital in our everyday life. We use them in almost everything from cellphones to MP3 players, and of course our laptops. Rechargeable batteries are good for the environment as well as our wallets.
So how can we get more life per charge from a laptop battery? Here are 20 tips to help increase how much usage you get from your laptop between charges. You don’t have to follow each suggestion in this guide, but the more tips you apply, the more you will minimize your power consumption and maximize your battery life.
Disable visual effects
Windows operating systems like Vista and Windows 7 include features like Aero which look pretty, but they add unneeded stress to your graphics processor that can impact battery life. Even Windows XP’s visual theme can impact battery life. Disabling these in favor of “Windows Classic” can increase your battery running time, even if it doesn’t look as sweet.
Stop background tasks that you don’t need
Tasks running in the background can severely decrease your battery life. You can check what’s running in Task Manager and end any processes that may be using too much of your system resources. Disabling real-time virus scanning when running on battery mode can have a massive effect on remaining running time, as real-time scanning has a severe impact on battery life.
Unplug USB devices
Try to wait until you’re near an outlet to charge your iPod or mobile phone. Flash drives and SD cards should be unplugged when not in use as they are constantly drawing power from your battery to keep them ready and active for use.
Don’t leave discs in your optical drive
Even if you’re not reading the disc, the computer will still spin the drive occasionally which will drain power from the battery. I’m sure you have all heard your optical drive start spinning even when you’re not trying to read the disc. Keeping discs out of the drive when you don’t need them will give you a few extra minutes of use.
Lower the brightness of your screen
Turning down the brightness of your LCD will significantly improve battery life. The brighter it is, the more of a draw it puts on your battery.
Disable the screensaver
Disable the screensaver and set your screen to sleep after a shorter time in the power options. This will use less CPU (and less battery because of that).
Use the ‘Balanced’ or ‘Power Saver’ power plan
Go into Power Options in Control Panel to select alternate power plans and to customize your power plans to suit your needs.
Heat is a bad thing
Monitor the temperature of your laptop. Above 60C can be harmful to your computer. Keep the air vents free from obstructions and keep them clean as they often accumulate dust which can cause overheating. Heat is bad for batteries as it can degrade the chemicals inside and cause permanent damage to your battery. Avoid leaving your laptop inside a hot car or in sunlight. Use one of those laptop coolers to help increase airflow to your device.
Defrag your hard drive
Keeping your drive free of fragmentation can cause your drive to work less to access data and can potentially decrease the load it puts on your battery.
Pause scheduled tasks
Save the disk defrags and virus scanning until you are near an electrical outlet. These tasks will have a dramatic impact on remaining battery life. You should also wait until your laptop is plugged in to install software.
Disable WiFi and Bluetooth until it is needed
Because your WiFi and Bluetooth devices will always be scanning for nearby devices to connect to, these should be turned off until you need them. Normal browsing activities on the Internet won’t impact your battery that much, but you should be aware that heavy downloading will impact your remaining battery life.
Keep away from multimedia applications
Watching movies and playing music while on the go will drain your battery fast. Try to stay away from doing these things while running on battery power.
Disable system sounds
I’m sure the effect is minimal, but disabling all those system sounds while on battery power can’t hurt. I have also read that muting your speakers on battery power can also help reduce the drain on your battery.
Keep everything updated
Believe it or not, newer drivers often have more efficient power management algorithms. Many PC and laptop manufacturers often release updates to your system BIOS that offer more efficient ways of handling the way your computer manages power. And of course, Windows updates sometimes offer improvements to power management as well.
Make ISOs of the discs you use the most
Virtualizing discs can help extend battery life. Using an application like MagicISO or Alcohol 52% to virtualize commonly used discs so you don’t waste precious battery life spinning up your optical drive to read those discs every time. Bonus — you won’t need to carry around the extra clutter of discs either!
Install more RAM
Having more RAM in your system will cut the load on your system and thus increasing battery life a small amount.
Use hibernate instead of sleep
Putting your computer into sleep mode is great for moving to one place to another, but uses a small amount of your battery. Sleep mode operates by setting your compute in a low power state which still draws from the battery. Hibernating your computer saves the active state to the disk and uses no power.
Limit the number of open programs
Are you using your instant messenger, or is it just sitting there idle? Shutting down running tasks that you are not using will greatly increase the available running time of your battery.
Monitor the health of your battery
Use a utility such as BatteryCare to watch the health of your battery and track discharge cycles. Proper battery maintenance is one of the most important things you can do!
Save the games until later
Playing games and using other graphics-intensive applications (such as video editing) will drain your battery faster than anything else. If you must play games on a laptop, wait until you are plugged in to a power source before doing such things.
There you have it, a short list of ways you can improve the life of your battery so you can get more done before you have to run to a power outlet.
How to you increase your battery life? We’d love to read your tips in the comments below!