How To Make Your Laptop Battery Live Longer

Laptop battery  like most people–eventually and inevitably, they die. And like people, they don’t obey Moore’s Law–You can’t expect next year’s batteries to last twice as long as this year’s. Battery technology may improve a bit over time (after all, there’s plenty of financial incentive for better batteries), but, while interesting possibilities may pop up, don’t expect major battery breakthroughs in the near future.

Here’s how to keep your laptop battery working for as long as possible.

Don’t Run It Down to Empty
Squeezing every drop of juice out of a lithium ion battery (the type used in today’s laptops) strains and weakens it. Doing this once or twice won’t kill the battery, but the cumulative effect of frequently emptying your battery will shorten its lifespan.

Keep It Cool
Heat breaks down the battery, and reduces its overall life.

When you use your laptop, make sure the vents are unblocked. Never work with the laptop on pillows or cushions. If possible, put it on a raised stand that allows for plenty of airflow.

Give It a Rest
If you’re going to be working exclusively on AC power for a week or more, remove the battery first.

Otherwise, you’ll be wearing out the battery–constantly charging and discharging it–at a time when you don’t need to use it at all. You’re also heating it up (see “Keep It Cool,” above).

With luck and proper care, your battery will still be useful when you’re looking for a new laptop.

Longer Life Between Charges
Myth: Adding RAM saves battery life.
True, more RAM means less hard drive access, and the hard drive uses a lot of electricity. But RAM uses electricity as well, and unless you’re doing a lot of multitasking (not a good idea when you’re on battery power), more RAM won’t reduce hard drive use.

The tips above should lengthen the time before you need to replace your laptop’s battery. But on a daily basis, we’re far more concerned with another type of battery life: how long we can keep our laptop running without AC power. You may know most of the following tips already, but it never hurts to refresh (or recharge) your memory.

Dim your screen: Your laptop’s backlight requires a lot of juice. Keep it as dim as you can comfortably read it.
Shut off unneeded hardware: Turn off your Bluetooth, and if you’re not using the internet, turn off your Wi-Fi receiver, as well. Don’t use an external mouse or other device. And muting the PC’s sound system not only saves power, it avoids annoying everyone else in the café.
Avoid multitasking: Run as few programs as you can get away with. If possible, stick to the one application (word processor, browser, or whatever) you’re currently using, plus your antivirus and firewall in the background.

And if you’re not on the internet, you don’t need those two.
Avoid multimedia: Save chores like photo editing and watching old Daily Show videos for when you have AC power. And if you must listen to music, use your iPod (or similar device).
Know when to sleep and when to hibernate: You need to think about when you want to save power by sending your laptop into Standby or Sleep mode, and when you want to hibernate it.

Juiced for more battery life tips? Check out our other battery life tips or post your favorites in the comments!

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