Increased battery life has long been the holy grail for regular laptop users, most users would like a system that can be powered up in the morning when they start work, and still be running late into the afternoon when they finish. Unfortunately even with recent advances in battery technology this is still some way off. However with a little care and thought in the way you use your laptop it’s quite possible to extend battery life beyond the typical two to three hours quoted by most manufacturers. Here are our top tips for getting a little more from your battery.
- Use Windows power options properly – Windows has some very good options for powering down various parts of your laptop when they haven’t been used for a period of time. You can find these in the Control Panel on all Windows based laptops. Also, if you’re running Windows Vista then there is a feature known as Power Plans which allow you to change your processor speed etc to save battery life.
- Turn wireless networking off – Wireless networking is basically a broadcasting radio, and as such draws a large charge from your laptop battery. If you’re on battery power then make sure that if you’re not using your Wi-Fi connection you turn it off – Most laptops have either a dedicated switch on the chassis or a hotkey option to make switching the wireless signal on and off quite easy.
- Install more RAM – When your laptop runs short on memory, Windows will use part of your hard drive as ‘Virtual Memory’. Your hard drive takes more power to access than RAM so decreasing your battery life further, adding RAM will reduce the need for virtual memory, and thus increase battery life.
- Optimise your hard drive – Similar to adding RAM, having an optimised hard drive will cut down on the amount of work the drive has to do – regularly using the disk clean up tools built into Windows, and de-fragmenting can improve hard drive performance and thus battery life.
- Keep peripheral devices to a minimum – Mice, USB memory sticks, PC cards, etc all draw power from your laptop. Only keep these devices attached when then being used, remove them between uses to prolong battery life.
- Reduce your screen brightness – The biggest drain on your laptops battery is your screen, use your laptops built in controls to turn the brightness down and gain lots of extra battery time
- Use a blank screen saver – Similarly to keeping the brightness down on screen, using a blanking screen saver will reduce the screen power usage
- Cut down on desktop decoration – A screen with lots of icons takes more processor power and screen to maintain than a blank screen, keeping the amount of icons and shortcuts to a minimum will help to reduce battery drain.
- Regularly discharge your battery – Whilst battery technology has improved greatly over the last few years, most experts still agree that it’s no bad thing to regularly fully discharge your battery to avoid any ‘memory effect’ problems.