Top 18 Ways to Prolong Your Laptop's Battery Life

12/04/2011 15:24

Imagine you are sitting at the airport and you have just enough time to log in and check your email on that cool new laptop. Just as you get to your inbox, the light starts flashing saying you are running out of battery power and wouldn't you know it, your cord won't reach the outlet. There are certain steps you can take. The following fifteen tips can help you extend your battery's life.


1. Defrag your hard drive regularly so it runs as efficiently as possible. Only perform this activity when plugged in, not on battery power. Mac OSX is equipped to better handle fragmentation so Apple users may not need this tip.

2. Dim the monitor. Many laptops have this option available and many include CPU and cooling enhancement enabling you to squeeze every last bit of power from your battery.

3. Reduce the number of programs that are active in the background. You may be running programs such as ITunes, Desktop Search, and so on. These all contribute to your CPU usage which quickly lowers battery life. Shut down everything you don't need when operating on battery.

4. Limit the use of external devices. This includes all USB devices. Your mouse and Wi-Fi use a lot of battery juice. Simply shut them down or unplug them. And never charge your MP3 or iPod when solely operating on battery power.

5. Increase the RAM. This will allow the laptop to process more information with the memory in the laptop, instead of using the virtual memory. When you use virtual memory, it causes hard drive usage thus reducing power efficiency. This mostly applies to cases where you need to run programs that require a lot of virtual memory usage, since the more RAM you add, the more energy you will use.

6. CD and DVD drives consume more power than hard drives do, so you should run off a hard drive whenever possible. Just having a CD/DVD in the drive can use laptop battery power. While the hard drive spins, it uses battery life although the device is not being used. Instead of using optical programs, you should use virtual drive programs such as Alcohol 120% as much as possible.

7. Keep the battery contacts free of dust and debris. Clean the battery's metal contacts frequently with a clean cloth with a bit of rubbing alcohol on it and you will maintain power transfer efficiency.

8. Exercise your battery. Do not let charged battery sit idle for an extended amount of time. You should use the battery a minimum of one time every two to three weeks once it is charged. And never allow a Li-On battery to completely discharge. Only older batteries with memory effects should be allowed to discharge.

9. Use the hibernate function instead of standby; this saves a lot more power. Not only will your laptop shut down in the hibernation mode, it will resume right where you left off.

10. Lower the operating temperature - Laptops run much better when the temperature is low. Go to for some great ways to clean the vents and other cooling tips.

11. To set up and get the most out of your power options, you should find the "Power Options" link in your Windows Control Panel; once you get there, you can maximize your power usage by selecting the "Max Battery" option.

12. Don't work on multiple programs. Stick to one task while you are using battery power. Focus on one task at a time, such as finishing a spreadsheet before checking your e-mail or listening to music. Your batteries will be drained before anything gets finished if you don't!

13. Try to demand the least from your PC. Gaming or playing a DVD consumes much more power than passive activities such as email and word processing. If you only have one battery, prioritize with care.

14. Replace your old laptop with a new model that is more energy friendly. Some manufactures are even offering batteries that last all day. Purchasing a newer more efficient laptop in place of an older one is a quick fix.

15. Prevent the memory effect. If you're using a very old laptop, you'll want to prevent the 'memory effect' Keep the battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Don't worry about this if you have Li-Ion batteries, which many laptops have, since they do not have the 'memory effect'.

Bonus Tip #1: Shut the auto save function off. The auto save feature in MS-Word and Excel is a useful one, but they add to the workload of your hard disk as they keep saving your active files regularly. However as the battery begins to run low, turn it back on to prevent permanent loss.

Bonus Tip #2: Limit the graphics use. Changing the screen resolution and turning off fancy graphic drivers will allow you to do this. According to an update from Andrew, Using a graphics or video card can consume as much or even more energy as a hard disk can.

As said in Bonus Tip #1, you should be careful anytime you turn off the auto save feature. Also, Tip #8 can tell you how to alter information when discharging batteries. Thank you to everybody who pointed this out! An extra bonus second tip can be added to the first tip about the spinning of hard drives in Mac OSX. Thank you to everybody who brought this to light!

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