Saturday, October 2, 2010

21 Useful Tips on how to extend life of laptop battery

As more and more people are becoming part of the mobile workforce and using laptop or tablet PC's battery life is often a primary concern. Today's portable computers use lithium-ion batteries instead of older style nickel-cadmium power sources. In addition to being able to hold a greater charge, lithium is also very light weight, another important concern for portable computers.

When you are purchasing your computer investigate if a long-life battery is available. While it will add to the cost it can give up to double the usage of a normal battery. To get the most usage out of your battery you'll need to understand a little bit about how batteries work. Each battery has a limited number of charge cycles. If your battery lasts for 4 hours and on the first day you use it for 2 hours and then recharge it fully and the next day you use it for 2 hours again and then fully recharge it again, you will have completed one charge cycle. Each battery has a limited number of charge cycles before it starts losing it's the charge it can hold.

We will present the effective recommendation on how to extend the battery life as much as possible:

1. Defrag regularly.
The faster your hard drive does its work – less demand you are going to put on the hard drive and your 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 very applicable for Apple systems. Definitely, the effect is minimal, but this efficiency goes hand in glove with hard drive maintenance.

2. Dim your screen.
The LCD screen of a laptop is huge power sink. Most laptops come with the ability to dim your laptop screen.  Some even come with ways to modify CPU and cooling performance.  Cut them down to the lowest level you can tolerate to squeeze out some extra battery juice.

3. Cut down on programs running in the background.
Itunes, Desktop Search, etc.  All these add to the CPU load and cut down battery life.  Shut down everything that isn’t crucial when you’re on battery. Monitor the resource usage through a ‘Ctrl-Alt-Del’ which brings up the Windows Task Manager (in Windows). If you’re not on the internet, it is safe to shut down the immediate non-essential programs running in the taskbar like the antivirus and the firewall. Weed out unnecessary programs running as start-ups by launching the System Configuration Utility from Run – Msconfig – Tab: Startup. Uncheck the programs which you don’t want to launch and reboot the computer once.

4. Cut down external devices.
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.

5. Turn off ports
Disabling unused ports and components, such as VGA, Ethernet, PCMCIA, USB, and yes, your wireless, too. You can do this through the Device Manager or by configuring a separate hardware profile.

6. Add more RAM.
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.

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

8.  Keep the battery contacts clean. 
Clean your battery’s metal contacts every couple of months with a cloth moistened with rubbing alcohol.  This keeps the transfer of power from your battery more efficient. But allow it to dry thoroughly before reinstalling it!

9. Take care of your battery.
Exercise the Battery.  Do not leave a charged battery dormant for long periods of time.  Once charged, you should at least use the battery at least once every two to three weeks. Also, do not let a Li-On battery completely discharge. (Discharing is suitable only for older batteries with memory effects).

10. Hibernate not standby.
Although placing a laptop in standby mode saves some power and you can instantly resume where you left off, it doesn’t save anywhere as much power as the hibernate function does.  Hibernating a PC will actually save your PC’s state as it is, and completely shut itself down.

11. Keep operating temperature down.
Your laptop operates more efficiently when it’s cooler.  Clean out your air vents with a cloth or keyboard cleaner. Allow for open space around the vents for air to circulate freely. Keep the area around the laptop clean to avoid entry of dust. Undue heat kills off a battery slowly but surely. Avoid leaving the laptop under direct sunlight or inside a closed car. Use a cooling pad when using a notebook computer on your lap. Avoid propping your laptop on a pillow, blanket, or other soft surface that can heat up.

12. Set up and optimize your power options.
Go to ‘Power Options’ in your windows control panel and set it up so that power usage is optimized (Select the ‘max battery’ for maximum effect).

13. Don’t multitask.
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 MP3s, set your mind to one thing only.  If you don’t you’ll only drain out your batteries before anything gets completed!

14. Go easy on the PC demands.
The more you demand from your PC.  Passive activities like email and word processing consume much less power than gaming or playing a DVD.  If you’ve got a single battery charge – pick your priorities wisely.

15. Pause the scheduled tasks.
It may be a defrag or a virus scan, but make sure it is scheduled for a time when you are near a power outlet. If not then nix them for the moment.

16. Prevent the Memory Effect.
If you’re using a very old laptop, you’ll 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.

17. Kill the Sounds.
Mute the speakers and try avoiding the use of multimedia software to maximize the battery life. Installed sound schemes also drain a battery perceptibly.

18. Turn off the looks.
Today’s OS’s like Windows Vista come with features like ‘Aero Glass’ which are resource guzzlers. One can turn it off and go for the ‘Classic’ appearance which consumes less power. In Vista, click on Desktop – Preferences – View Colour – Appearance – Classic Appearance and Windows Basic graphical interface. In XP it’s – Display Properties – Theme – Windows Classic. Linux and even Macintosh are better optimized for longer battery life.

19. Update software and drivers.
This sounds a bit incongruous but then newer drivers and software are often designed to be more efficient (and hopefully less resource hungry).

20. Use the right adapter.
Ensure that the adapter you use to charge the laptop battery is an original one or one with the correct specifications. A mismatch in the wattage could cause an overload thus damaging the laptop and the battery.

21. Pack it up.
If you don’t plan to use the laptop on batteries for quite some time, ensure that the charge is nearly 40 percent – remove the batteries and store it in a cool place.

Sources and Additional Information:

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...