Pretty much everyone who owns a PC laptop has, at some point or another, found themselves with a computer that's nearly out of battery power and no electrical outlets in sight. (Usually this happens right before a road trip with three kids in the back of the car screaming for their Dora the Explorer DVD, or the moment you board a plane with six hours' worth of business presentations to review.) If you want to prevent these sorts of calamities from happening in the future, you can take a few simple steps to reduce your PC's power consumption and increase the number of hours you can get out of a fully charged battery.
Dim your screen. One of the easiest and most effective things you can do is dim your screen. Computer screens use up a surprising amount of power when they're at maximum brightness, so keeping your screen as dim as you can tolerate will keep your battery from running out too quickly.
Minimize moving parts. Whirring fans and spinning disk drives can quickly deplete your battery, so keep your computer cool and don't run DVDs or CDs.
Turn off autosave. You should, of course, periodically save whatever you're working on, but autosave eats up more power than you want to use if you're running on a battery.
Don't multitask. Keep the number of programs and processes you're running to a minimum. Microsoft Office programs like Word, Excel, and Outlook tend to use a lot less power than graphics- and processing-intensive programs like the Adobe suite, video games, and music.
Don't use external devices. Any USB-connected device, even if it's shut off, can still drain battery power, so avoid using mice or flash drives.
In addition, laptops running Windows XP and Vista will have a "Power Options" setting in the control panel that lets you adjust your machine's power consumption.
These tips should help you get the most life you can out of a fully charged laptop battery. To keep your battery in good condition, many experts also recommend running the battery until it's nearly empty and then fully recharging.