Notebook computers are quite popular considering their flexibility when moving around. Business users hardly have a need for a desktop anymore, unless they need special hardware or have a fixed workplace. And notebooks can be as powerful as many desktop computers. CPU’s are fast and 4 GB of memory is pretty standard already. Even gaming is quite possible on high-end laptops.
The main challenge with laptops is that the battery life can often be better. All this CPU speed, high graphics performance and huge amounts of RAM require more power. Although laptop manufacturers are creating laptops with batteries that last longer, there are a few things that you can do yourself to maximize the time your laptop can run on battery.
Most of these tips are focused on Windows, although some of them apply in general.
Ten Things to Maximize Battery Life
- The first thing you should consider is to remove the battery when you run it with the power supply connected. This will help the battery life in general, as it prevents the continuous loading cycle (which is limited for all batteries!).
Modern laptops often have circuits that make sure the battery is not used when plugged, but temperature also affects the battery life, so removing it helps by limiting the heat exposure.
Also check laptop manufacturer’s recommendations, like HP.
- Make sure to configure your power settings appropriately. The power plan of your laptop allows you to turn off the screen and hard disks after a defined amount of time when the computer is not used. Define these periods as short as possible to maximize battery life.
- Disable Bluetooth and WiFi when not required. When you are watching a movie, or typing a document and you do not need to be online, disable the wireless devices. This will help save power, as the Bluetooth concept will make the laptop look for other Bluetooth devices, or make sure it sends a signal to allow the laptop to be found by other Bluetooth devices. The WiFi network card will also constantly look for available WiFi networks when enabled.
- Reduce the screen brightness when possible. The LCD screen can actually help extend battery life a lot by reducing the brightness a few shades. This is exactly when most mobile phones turn of the display so quickly by default.
- In line with the previous tip, you should disable the screen saver. Primarily intended to prevent the screen to burn in, a screen saver actually consumes more power because the CPU is active and the video card and display are used as well. Put it to blank or disable the screen saver.
- In addition to disabling the Bluetooth and wireless devices, also disconnect any external devices when not needed in battery mode. A USB or wireless mouse, a USB memory stick, external hard disk or any PCMCIA card that is not required should be removed. Use the touchpad to control the mouse instead.
- Disable any scheduled tasks that involve a lot of disk access. Virus scans, defragmenting the hard disk, or any similar maintenance task will involve a lot of hard disk access and consume more power. These tasks are best run when the laptop is plugged.
- Also check your startup programs and active program and close any program that you do not need. The more programs you have running, the more CPU time is used and if too much memory is used, Windows will increase the use of the virtual memory, which again uses hard disk access.
- Use a headset instead of the speakers. In general laptop speakers are not too good anyway, so use a cabled headset with a jack if possible. Although there are USB headsets and speakers and even wireless headsets, these will require more power (especially if you need to use WiFi or Bluetooth again). The volume of the sound will also affect the power consumption, so using a good quality headset might allow you to reduce the volume a notch.
- Update the Bios and the drivers. Computer manufacturers make improvements their software all the time to improve the way the hardware is used. Updating the Bios will ensure you have the latest version and give maximum compatibility with the all power saving features the operating system. The same applies to the device drivers. Drivers control all aspects of the hardware devices, including the power saving modes of the device.
These are just some ideas on how to save power on your laptop and maximize battery life. A few are things that require just a one-time action and others need actions whenever you switch from plugged to battery operation. Even if you might not ending up using them all, I hope one or two will help you enjoy your notebook a little longer when running on battery.
Do you have any more ideas on saving power with your laptop in battery mode? Leave a comment and I will update the list!
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