10 Tips to Squeeze More Battery Life Out of Your Laptop

How many times have you found yourself with a dead laptop battery and no outlet in sight? I know I have, but it’s only happened to me on a few occasions thanks to these tips. You can mitigate being left dry without power to run your laptop by following the easy to implement steps below.

Some of the tips below may seem insignificant with regards to the amount of battery saved, however combined these tips could add minutes to even half an hour of additional battery life so make sure to use them in unison.

1. Reduce Screen Brightness

One of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the amount of electricity consumed by your notebook is to reduce the brightness of the screen. This can be accomplished in several ways: You can set the brightness manually by using the buttons found on the keyboard that will control the brightness of the screen.

The second option would be to use the built-in power control options in Windows to automatically adjust the brightness of the screen based on use. In Windows 7 you have the option to automatically turn off the display after “x” number of minutes without use. If automatically turning off the display doesn’t work for you then you can set the display to automatically dim to the lowest setting after “x” number of minutes without use.

The third option which is found in the same control panel window is to automatically adjust the screen’s brightness based on whether or not the notebook is running on battery or plugged in.

2. Disable Desktop Background Slideshows

In Windows 7 Microsoft introduced a slew of new features that improve the overall look and feel of the Windows environment. Among those new features is the ability to have rotating wallpapers. Although extremely appealing this little feature consumes a bit of power while running in the background. You have to options to mitigate the power consumption of this feature.

You can increase the time interval between wallpaper changes from 30 minutes (default) to one or two hours. You can also disable the feature altogether by visiting the Advanced Power Settings in Windows 7.

3. Turn Off Unnecessary Radios

How often do you actually use your Bluetooth radio? Most laptops today ship with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth radios, some even have 3G/EVDO and WiMAX radios. If you are running on battery while working on your laptop and you really don’t need the internet, why connect to the internet? Connecting to the internet requires that you use a good amount of electricity that could be saved to extend the battery on your laptop.

Ok, so you do need the internet, but what about Bluetooth? Unless you are syncing your BlackBerry wirelessly or using a Bluetooth peripheral there is no need to keep the Bluetooth radio on, which by the way, is also consuming electricity.

Both radios can be turned off by physical switch or button on your laptop. If you wish to turn one off, but not the other you will have to go to your computer’s Control Panel to turn the radio off independently.

4. Work on One Application

Believe or not, Apple does have a good point about multi-tasking and battery consumtion, just ask an Android or Palm Web OS user. The same applies to the PC, the more apps/programs you run on your laptop the more power your laptop will consume.

Unless you are using a specific application while trying to complete a task, close it. There is no need to have Outlook running in the background checking your messages every five minutes if you are trying to complete a proposal before your battery dies. Close applications you are not using and your battery will last longer.

5. Disable Background Programs

Even if you run one application at a time as suggested above, there are several applications and services that are running in the background that eat up the valuable battery life you are trying to conserve. An example of background applications that may be running in the background are listed below. I have also provided a link to a recently published article that lists some of the most common services that can be safely disabled.

Background Applications

List of services that can be safely disabled – Article

6. Disable Automatic Send/Receive

Programs like Outlook will automatically look for new messages every 30 minutes; this send/receive of information requires resources that will consume a small amount of battery life. The default setting for Outlook is about 30 minutes, but what if you’ve changed that setting to every 5 minutes or worse every minute?

All email clients have this functionality so you can extend the amount of time between email checks or disable them all together. The option is yours.









7. Defragment Your Hard Drive

How long does it take to locate a book in a bookshelf that is not organized alphabetically? Now how long does it take to locate that same book when it is organized alphabetically? A lot faster. The same applies to your computer’s hard drive; if the files are fragmented (scattered) all over your computer will take a longer time locating files.

If your computer were defragmented (organized) then files would be found in a snap. All this means is that if your hard drive is fragmented, the hard drive will have to work harder to locate those files which means that more power will be consumed.

Want to optimize your hard drive while saving battery life? Defragment your hard drive. Windows ships with a built-in defragmentation application, so put it to good use and schedule defragmentation a least once a week.

8. Remove Disc Media from Drives

Believe it or not, each time you open My Computer to browse the contents of your computer, the CD/DVD drive spins if a disc is inserted into the drive. It will also spin when you boot up and shut down the computer. All of these spins require power to move the small motor the spins the drive. To squeeze a little more battery life out of your laptop, consider removing any removable media that could “spin” while using your laptop.

9. Hibernate Don’t Sleep

If you need to turn your computer off, but want instant access to it you may be tempted to put it to Sleep, however when your laptop is in Sleep mode it is placed in a low power state, meaning that you are still consuming battery power. What if you meant to put the computer down for 30 minutes, but got caught up with something else and came back to it four hours later only to find that the battery died?

You can keep this from happening and save battery life by placing your computer in a Hibernate state rather than Sleep. Hibernate saves your laptop’s current state onto the hard drive and turns off the computer. This means there will be no power consumption and you can boot right up.

10. Take Care of Your Battery

Long gone are the days of having to make sure you completely discharged the batter before recharging. All you have to worry about is that you make sure you store your battery when not in use. If you plan to leave your laptop plugged in for more than a couple of weeks, you might want to consider removing the battery and storing it in a dry location.

Note: Whenever you remove your battery make sure that the battery contacts are clean and free of any dust or gunk that builds over time.

These tips will help maintain the battery’s charge capacity and extend its life. Do you have any other tips to help squeeze more battery life out of a laptop? Please post them below.

One thought on “10 Tips to Squeeze More Battery Life Out of Your Laptop

  1. kani says:

    I had every problem possible with my earlier laptop (Lenovo) including slowdowns and drive related problems. I could not run it on battery at all. Part of the cause was negligence. As mentioned above if tasks like defrag are nelgected its going to affect the computer adversely. On my new laptop now, I have automated whatever maintenance tasks possible including defrag with a good reliable automatic program. Hope this one lives longer than the other!

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