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  • September 2011
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Make the most of your laptop battery

Posted by itsfixed on September 3, 2011

Get the most out of your laptop batteryextend your battery life!

The great thing about
laptops is that you don’t have to be connected to anything – so you are
free to do what you want, wherever you want. That is, until your
battery dies. Having decent battery life is one of the #1 concerns of
most laptop users, and so we thought we’d discuss how to make the most
of your battery in today’s article.

So you forgot your power cord on your way to an important meeting or
the coffee shop. We’ve all been there. There’s nothing you can do to
stop your battery drain, but you can do a lot to slow its inevitable
demise.
If you’ve got a laptop with a really old battery that drains in a few
minutes after a full charge, there’s not much you can do to make that
old thing last much longer—you’ll probably want to replace the battery
before you do anything else. For everybody else, these tips can help
you keep your battery working at peak efficiency.
 

Obviously we all know that using your laptop drains the battery
– but the #1 culprint, according to Microsoft
is your LCD panel – ie: your display. Other culprits are using
flash drives and USB mice.

What’s not so obvious are the speed your CPU is running at. Most modern
computers slow down and speed up depending on what you are doing at the
time. So when your computer is just sitting there doing nothing, the
CPU is slowed right down, to conserve power, and eventually your
computer will go into Sleep mode. Conversely, if you are doing
something intensive, like watching a DVD, your CPU is sped up, which in
turn drains more power.

Understanding how your battery is drained leads to the solutions for
maximising it. Let’s review.

  1. Reduce
    your monitor brightness
    – how low can you go? The dimmer your
    display, the longer your battery is going to last. Obviously, you also
    need to see your screen, so
    pick the balance that is right for you.
  2. Don’t
    use external devices except when you have to
    -  USB and
    PC-Cards (aka PC-MCIA) use your battery to function, even when you
    aren’t using them!  Have an EVDO card or maybe a USB mouse? 
    Remove them if you can.  Even a memory card reader in your PC-MCIA
    slot uses power just by being in there.  The effect varies based
    on the type of device, but even a few minutes here and there (as you’ll
    see) add up significantly.
  3. Do one
    thing at a time
    – The more you are doing at the same time with
    your PC, the more memory and CPU usage increases.  Both of which
    directly use up battery.  Close any applications you aren’t using,
    even the small ones.  When doing some experimentation, I found it
    more efficient to run a single application at a time, then close it and
    open a new one when ready to move on.  While your hard drive uses
    the battery too, if you are doing anything ‘productive’ you are
    probably hitting the drive on a regular (even if infrequent) basis
    anyway.
  4. Keep it
    cool
    – the hotter your system, the more your battery life is
    adversely affected over the long term. So keep those vents clear, and
    try not to smother your laptop in cushions when using it.
  5. cluttered system trayShut down services you don’t need – do you really
    need to be runing Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google
    Desktop Search, Quicktime and all your other utilities that are sitting
    happily in your system tray? Close as many as you can – this will both
    speed up your system, and maximise your battery life. 
  6. Hibernate,
    rather than Sleeping
    – when not using your laptop, there are a
    couple of ways you can turn it off. You can completely power it off -
    this saves the most battery life, but means that when you want to use
    your laptop again, you need to wait for your computer to boot up and
    log in to windows again, which is too long for most people. Or you can Sleep your computer – which puts it
    into a dormant state, but when you want to use your laptop later, it
    starts up almost instantly. This however, does mean that your battery
    is being consumed, albeit slowly. Hibernate
    is a useful middle ground – your battery usage is significantly
    reduced, and it still boots up in a reasonable time. 

There are other more technical options, such as tweaking your Power
Settings, however you should not try that unless you really know what
you are doing.

Still need help?

If you’ve read through this and still require some help – give us a
call. We’d be happy to help you over the phone at no cost to you. Give
our friendly techs a call on 1300 600 670,
or
request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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