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December 12, 2013

Getting The Most from Your Laptop’s Battery Life on The Go

Laptops are essential to many people in the business world and in everyday life as a way for people to stay connected and complete their work and other tasks. They make great traveling companions because they are portable, convenient, and simply make our lives better, that is, until the battery dies on you.
Nothing is more frustrating than having your laptop battery fail, especially when in the middle of something important. Here are some tips for maximizing battery life when you are without access to other power sources.

1) Use An AC Outlet When Possible To Maintain Battery Charge
Always carry your AC adapter with you, especially when traveling and taking your laptop with you. This will allow you to charge the laptop whenever possible to keep the battery juiced up and ready to go when needed. Make sure your laptop battery and AC adapter are purchased from a reputable retailer so that your laptop is supplied with the right power and voltage. When the Lithium ion type batteries reach a full charge, they will automatically stop charging in modern laptops. This may not be the best solution for long term use to extend battery life, as it means a lot of charges and discharges, this is more in reference to times when you are out and about and need to depend upon the laptop battery when it matters most. For long term battery life, you may wish to remove the battery after fully charging, and then use an AC power source when available so that you’re only using the battery when necessary.

2) Lower The Brightness Level Of The Screen
The displays of modern computers contain LED backlights, which consume a great percentage of power in the system. By lowering the brightness setting on the screen, you can significantly reduce the amount of power the battery consumes, conserving battery life and making it last longer. You also have the option of going into your computer’s control panel and adjusting your computer’s power options in the Hardware and Sound category. Here you can make specific adjustments that will save your battery life. Also, selecting the advanced power settings option will allow you to choose a minimal level of brightness for your laptop when in the dimmed state, conserving battery power.

3) Look For Power Draining Applications
Sometimes there are utilities running in the background of the computer that are doing nothing more than draining power. This could be a web browser or a hanging app of some kind. To check out what is going on with your computer system and to look for any errant apps, press the Ctrl/Alt/Del keys together and proceed to start Windows Task Manager. Look for anything that may show a high usage of power and exit out of the program. If the program fails to discontinue normally, right click on it and choose the “kill process” option. Alternatively, you can use a third party tools to help keep an eye on your battery’s usage at all times.

4) Don’t Run Background Apps That Consume A Lot Of Power When Using The Battery
Certain software can really make the processor work intensely, eating up precious battery life. When relying on battery only mode, disable intensive apps in the background, such as BitTorrent, as well as Windows Updates and other software updates. These can kick in and attempt to download large patches in the software while you are solely running on battery life. Check your network usage from time to time to make sure there are no noticeable spikes in usage while you’re using the battery. If you notice a large file transfer in progress, stop the action until you can plug in and recharge.

5) Disable Devices Not Currently Being Used
Disabling such things as WiFi and Bluetooth radios when not in use, as well as unneeded ports and devices, will conserve battery life. Remove any DVDs or Blu-ray discs that may be in your DVD drive, because the optical disc drive will consume power even when not being actively used.

Keep in mind, the tips above are meant for short term battery life, not for maximizing the overall life of the battery. When you are out and about and need to depend upon the battery in your computer, these tips will help ensure that you can squeeze a few more minutes out of the battery. By dimming the background lighting and disabling certain programs that you are not currently using, it can go a long way toward making sure you have the battery power you need to complete your tasks. Remember to plug in here and there when you have access to an AC outlet on the go, to top off the battery so you’re functioning on a full charge when possible.
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