15 Ultimate Tips to Extend Your Laptop’s Battery Life

Notebooks tend to lose their charm quickly when you find yourself searching for a power terminal once in every couple of hours to help your dieing battery that is plunging towards the red zone! How do you keep your laptop/notebook battery going for as long as possible? Here are 15 easy tips to do so. Read them now. You’ll thank yourself later.

1. Sleeping Rejuvenates your Body, and your Laptop Battery Too
Use your laptop’s power management features (in Windows XP, under Power Options in the Control Panel; or in Vista, under Mobile PC in the Control Panel) sensibly. The system will run at lower processor speeds when enabling power management features and it will go into “sleep” mode faster when inactive. And if you can spare the extra time it takes for the machine to resume, make sure that you set your laptop to hibernate, not just sleep, when you close the lid.

2. All that Glitters are Not Always Gold
Unless you are still using the laptop that your dad gifted you in the summer of 1999, most modern laptops come with the ability to dim the laptop screen.  Some even come with ways to modify the processor and cooling performance.  Turn down the brightness of the LCD panel (via the Function-key combo, or in the Control Panel’s Display Settings dialog). Cut them down to the minimum level you can tolerate to squeeze out some extra battery juice. And also consider switching off the backlight that sucks away power from your notebook’s battery like a vacuum cleaner!

15 Cool Tips to Extend Your Laptop Battery Life

3. Cut down Gaming when Running on Battery
Unless you’re running high-order mathematical calculations to solve the university project, chances are great that you don’t need the maximum processing power that your CPU can give. So in Vista, select the “Power saver” power plan (found in the Control Panel, in the Power Options section) to extend battery life when on DC power, and leave the 3D video gaming for when you’re near an AC outlet.

4. Avoid Memory-Hungry and Less-Essential Apps
When you aren’t actively using the Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and IR radios, turn them off (via the hard switch, if your laptop has it, or in the appropriate utility set), so that they don’t trickle you dry trying to connect. Photoshop, iTunes, Google Desktop Search, etc.  All these add to the CPU load and cut down battery life drastically.  Shut down everything that isn’t crucial when you’re running solely on battery power.

5. Turn Off the Auto-Save Function
Microsoft Word and Excel’s autosave functions are great but because they keep saving at regular intervals, they make your hard drive spin harder than it should. However, if you plan to do this, you may want to turn it back on when the battery runs low. While it saves battery life in the beginning, you will not want to lose your unsaved work when your battery dies, will you?

6. Wisely Schedule Virus Scans
Be sure that your periodic virus scan is set to a time when you’re usually plugged in; running a full-disk virus check keeps the hard drive and CPU fully engaged for the better part of an hour.

7. Lower the Graphics Use
You can do this by changing the screen resolution and shutting off fancy graphic drivers. Graphics cards (video cards) use as much or even more power as hard drives.

8. Go Easy on the Multimedia
A little music is nice while you construct that PowerPoint presentation for your upcoming meeting, but streaming music from your hard drive (or playing a CD) means the disk is always spinning thus sipping away power from your notebook battery.

9. Defrag once in a while
The faster your hard drive does its work – less demand you are going to put on the hard drive and your laptop’s battery.  Make your hard drive as efficient as possible by defragging it regularly (but not while it’s on battery of course!) Mac OSX is better built to handle fragmentation so it may not be needed for Apple systems.

10. Cut down External Devices
Use USB-attached devices only when absolutely necessary. They aren’t getting their power from positive ions in the air, you know. USB devices (including your mouse) & WiFi drain down your laptop battery.  Remove or shut them down when not in use.  It goes without saying that charging other devices (like your iPod) with your laptop when on battery is a surefire way of quickly wiping out the charge on your laptop battery.

11. Get more RAM
This is probably obvious but this will allow you to process more with the memory your laptop has, rather than relying on virtual memory.  Virtual memory results in hard drive use, and is much less power efficient. Note that adding more RAM will consume more energy, so this is most applicable if you do need to run memory intensive programs which actually require heavy usage of virtual memory.

12. Use Hard Drive rather than CD/DVD
As power consuming as hard drives are, CD and DVD drives are even worse.  Even having one disk in the drive can be power consuming.  They spin, taking power, even when they’re not actively being used.  Wherever possible, try to run on virtual drives using programs like Alcohol 120% rather than optical ones.

13. Operate at Low Temperature
Your laptop operates more efficiently when it’s cooler.  Clean out your laptop’s air vents with a cloth or keyboard cleaner.

14. Jack of all, Master of None! Avoid Multitasking
Do one thing at a time when you’re on battery.  Rather than working on a spreadsheet, letting your email client run in the background and listening to your latest set of MP3’s, focus your mind to one thing only.  If you don’t you’ll only drain out your batteries before anything gets completed!

15. Prevent the Memory Effect
If you’re using a very old laptop, you will want to prevent the ‘memory effect’ – Keep the battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Exceptions to the rule are Li-Ion batteries (which most laptops have) which do not suffer from the memory effect.

What do you do to extend your laptop’s battery life? How do you make sure that your battery doesn’t die down in the middle of your work? Do share your ideas with us.

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