I have been using a laptop for more than 2 years and the biggest challenge that I still face is to make it go for longer periods when operating in battery mode. Over these years I have found and learnt many tips in improving the laptop’s battery performance and would like to share them here.
1. Screen Brightness: When operating in battery mode dim your screen brightness. All the today’s modern laptops come with this feature, this usually can be done by using the Function Key (Fn) or by your manufacturer provided software.
2. Hibernate instead of Shut Down: I have seen many people using laptops are not aware of hibernate feature hence they tend to use the more power expensive shut down instead hibernate. For those who are not aware of hibernation: “Hibernate saves an image of your desktop with all open files and documents, and then it powers down your computer. When you turn on power, your files and documents are open on your desktop exactly as you left them.” You can use hibernate option instead of standby in situations where you are required to leave your laptop unattended for more than 20 minutes.
3. Clean your laptop’s air vents regularly: Your battery works most efficiently when the operating temperature of your laptop is lower. To avoid overheating and improve thermal efficiency you need to avoid dust build-up in air vents. If your air vents are dust free the cooling fan would run at much lower speed there by reducing the load on your laptop battery. I usually blow dust out of air vents once a week, you can select your time interval depending upon your usage.
4. Close unwanted programs that you do not use: Close unnecessary programs that are running in background which you do not intend to use. For example you can close IM applications that are not required. Another advantage of closing unwanted applications it frees up your RAM and this avoids using the power expensive virtual memory.
5. Don’t perform Hard disk and CPU intensive tasks: The more CPU and hard disk intensive task you carry out the more pressure you put on your laptop battery. Avoid playing games or watching movies when in battery mode. Always shutdown your desktop indexing program like Google desktop and other desktop indexing programs as they tend to use more hard disk and CPU resources there by increasing the load on your laptop.
6. Turn Off unused Devices: You can turnoff bluetooth, Wifi, infrared devices when not in use. Most of the devices get powered from your laptops USB port hence makes lot of sense to avoid using them when in battery mode.
7. Laptops with Intel Centrino Processors: Laptops that are using Intel Centrino processors make sure Intel speed step technology is enabled in your BIOS.
Running a processor at high clock speeds allows for better performance. However, when the same processor is run at a lower frequency, it generates less heat and consumes less power. In many cases, the core voltage can also be reduced, further reducing power consumption and heat generation. This can conserve battery power in notebooks, extend processor life, and reduce noise generated by variable-speed fans. By using SpeedStep, users can select the balance of power conservation and performance that best suits them, or even change the clock speed dynamically as the processor burden changes.
8. Make best use of your Operating Systems (OS) Power Management feature: All the present generation operating systems (OS) come with good set of power saving features so make best use of them. You can configure how your laptop should behave when it is idle with these features. An example would be like turning off the display after some minutes.
9. Disable Scheduled Automated Tasks: When in battery mode disable scheduled tasks like virus scanning that can put pressure on your laptop batteries.
10. Avoid running programs from CD/DVD drive: CD/DVD drives are expensive when it comes to power consumption when compared to your hard drive. When running battery mode copy the programs that you need to run to hard drive and then use them.
11. Use the latest BIOS update from your laptop manufacturer: Make sure you are running your laptop with the latest version of BIOS as sometimes laptop manufacturers issue BIOS updates that can enhance your laptops efficiency.
12. Plan your Work before hand: When you plan to work in battery mode plan your activities before hand so that you don’t spend time thinking and your battery at the other end is draining. When ever I need prepare presentations or prepare some documents I always plan before and then only start my laptop.
Bonus Tip for Vista Users: To improve your battery life under Windows Vista you can disable Aero and Windows Sidebar. You can also make use of Vista Battery Saver program that does this automatically.
If you have any tips that have been missed out here then you can post them in comments section and I will add those tips to main post with a link back to your blog.
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