How to optimize battery life on your Windows laptop

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Nov 9th 2012 - by Fix My PC FREE in: Blog Laptop Tweaks and Repairs | 0 Comment

How to optimize battery life on your Windows laptop

Whether you’re about to go on a long road trip or you just want your laptop to last for a full day of classes, learning how to optimize battery life is an important skill to have. Today, we’re going to show you some of the best ways to preserve your battery life and make your laptop last twice as long – no matter what you’re doing.

Understand what drains your battery life the most

Many people are surprised to learn which parts of their laptop actually drain battery life. The LCD panel uses the largest percentage of battery life, with the chipset, processor, and graphics card coming in 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place respectively.

The Windows 7 software team even put together a handy factsheet that shows users exactly where their battery life is going:

That factsheet also compares the difference between shutting down the computer, putting it to sleep, and hibernating:

What do all those squiggly lines mean? They mean that Windows laptops are optimized around the ‘Sleep’ command, and that you should use it as much as possible if you want to conserve battery life without waiting ages for your computer to start up.

Dimming your LCD screen

Since the LCD/LED panel takes up the largest percentage of your battery life, it makes sense to begin your battery optimization quest at the screen. Most laptops allow users to brighten or dim the screen using a simple keyboard shortcut. For example, my Acer laptop allows me to hold the Function key (Fn) while pressing left or right on the arrow keys in order to adjust screen brightness.

Other types of laptops may have screen brightness along the function keys at the top of the keyboard, like here:

Whenever possible, dim your LCD screen to the lowest readable level. If you’re trying to preserve battery life – like for a long flight – make sure your brightness is always on its dimmest setting.

Automatic Windows power settings

The Windows operating system automatically comes with power plan settings that make conserving battery life as easy as possible. When plugged in, you can set your laptop to automatically enter high performance mode, which emphasizes performance at the expense of battery life. Or, if you’re out and about, you can set your laptop to power saver or balanced mode in order to preserve battery life as much as possible.

The main difference between these modes is the time it takes to turn off the display and put your computer to sleep. For example, when plugged in, you might never want your laptop to go to sleep. But when your laptop is running on battery life, you might want it to go to sleep after 20 minutes of inactivity. To access power settings, simply right click on your battery indicator in the system tray. Or, type power into the Windows search bar.

Disable unnecessary hardware

Your laptop is filled with hardware that you might never use. You might have a Bluetooth adapter, for example, or an unnecessary Wi-Fi signal. These adapters can drain a significant amount of power simply by being enabled, and disabling them can help preserve plenty of battery life.

Most laptops have an exterior Wi-Fi shutoff switch that users can easily flick when they no longer need to access Wi-Fi. Simply flick that switch when you’re outside of Wi-Fi range and your laptop battery shouldn’t drain as quickly.

To disable other processes, visit the Device Manager screen in Windows. From this screen, you can temporarily disable various types of network adapters (like Bluetooth adapters) or permanently uninstall them from your computer if you think you’ll never need to use them. To access this settings menu, simply type Device Manager into the Windows search bar.

Take care of your battery

There are a lot of rumors out there about the right and wrong way to charge a laptop’s battery. Today, most laptops use a lithium battery, which require special care when compared to other types of batteries. Here’s how to optimize the lifespan and performance of your lithium battery:

-You do not need to fully discharge the battery before draining it

-If you fully deplete a lithium battery and then refuse to charge it for a long time, it may completely lose its ability to hold a charge.

-Don’t leave your laptop plugged in all the time. When leaving a lithium battery fully charged all the time, it can cause approximately 20% of its power potential to disappear over the course of a year.

-Store your battery in a cool place when possible

If your laptop is several years old, then it might use a nickel battery. Nickel batteries require special treatment when compared to lithium batteries. If you want to optimize battery life, then you’ll want to fully drain the nickel battery before you recharge it.

To determine what kind of battery your laptop uses, check your user manual.

Remove a disk from your CD/DVD drive

The act of physically spinning up and scanning a disk can drain quite a bit of battery life from your laptop. If you’re not constantly using a disk that’s in the drive, be sure to remove it before shutting down your computer.

Dust out your laptop with canisters of compressed air

One canister of compressed air can work wonders on your laptop’s battery. Simply take your laptop to a well-ventilated location (like outside) then spray that air into the vents along the side of your laptop.

This will clear much of the dust around your laptop’s fans and components. This dust makes it difficult for your laptop to cool itself, which means that it has to work harder and hotter than it normally would. This tip makes your laptop more efficient, which is the ultimate goal when learning how to make your Windows laptop’s battery last longer.

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