If you own a laptop, you've no doubt suffered the whims of the Battery Gods at one time or another. You fully charge your battery, depart for a long trip, and as soon as you get on the plane you discover that your battery is nearly empty. What happened? And how can you prevent it from happening again?
The sad truth is that all batteries, no matter how well made and well tended, will eventually die -- and over time, they become less and less effective at holding a charge. Various schools of thought have evolved regarding how to prolong the life and effectiveness of a battery. Such as: Keep it fully charged! Or: Let it run down to nothing and then charge it up again! And so on. So who's right?
A recent article
in Slate includes advice from a battery expert who suggests keeping your battery between 20 and 80 percent charged most of the time. Continuing to charge it once it's full can actually be very stressful on a battery -- as can heat.
As to maximizing the amount of use you can get out of your laptop before you need to recharge it, try these measures:
1. Dim your screen.
Computer screens use up a surprising amount of power when they're at maximum brightness.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Don't multitask.
Keep the number of programs and processes you're running to a minimum.
5. 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