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When there are no power outlets in sight there's nothing more frustrating than a dying laptop battery. We've all been in that situation where we have a couple hours of work left to finish but our battery life is only estimated to last one more. Good news. Often times these situations can be avoided by optimizing the battery performance. Here are 20 tips that will help your laptop battery last longer.
1. Calibrate your battery - Most laptop batteries these days have internal processors that provide an estimate of your battery life. Calibrating your battery so it shows the correct battery time and percentage is the first step in getting the most performance out of your laptop battery. Ideally, you should do this 3-4 times per year and should consult your owner's manual for instructions.
2. Adjust your settings - Just about every new laptop will have some kind of advanced power options settings. Optimize these settings for maximum performance.
3. Buy the Right Processor - The type of CPU can have a huge impact on how long your laptop will last on a full charge, Newer CPUs even shut down parts of the chip to conserve power. Intel chips tend to be more powerful than the AMD ones with their larger L2 cache but use more power, but you can get your work done faster so the total power used is about the same either way. The newest 65nm Memrons by Intel are extremely powerful and power efficient. Dual cores with 4MB cache and low power. The AMD Turion 64 line when they come out will compete with the Intel Memrons as they will have chips that are even more power efficient. The Pentium M chips use even less power but not as powerful since they are not dual core.
4. Only run programs you need - Having multiple programs running at the same time seems like an unnecessary way to drain your battery. Instead consider running only program at a time. In other words, if you're browsing the web don't leave your email client running in the background, check it when you're done surfing the web.
5. Dim your screen - One of the fastest ways you can kill your battery is by leaving your screen brightness high. Dim your screen to the lowest level you can possibly manage.
6. Disable unnecessary programs - You know all those programs that automatically run on startup? You probably don't need them or use most of them anyways. So just turn them off before they eat into your battery resources.
7. Keep operating temps down - Batteries perform better when they're cool. Clean your air vents and avoid placing your laptop in a position that will restrict airflow (such as your lap).
8. Don't watch DVDs or play games - If you're going to be away from a power source for more than a couple hours it's a good idea to avoid watching DVDs listening to music, or playing games. These can be serious drains on your battery.
9. Limit external devices - USB devices or anything else you have plugged in uses battery resources even when they're not in use. Now is probably not the best time to try out your new USB hand warmer.
10. Don't standby, hibernate - Not only does using hibernate instead of standby conserve battery power, but it also automatically saves and shuts off your laptop. Standby mode still uses power.
11. Clean battery contacts - Proper battery maintenance includes cleaning the battery contacts that connect your cells to the laptop. Battery power is transferred through the contacts and keeping them clean allows for a more efficient transfer of power. The best way to do this is with rubbing alcohol and cotton swabs.
12. Use the battery - Once it's charged, don't let your laptop battery sit for extended periods of time. Never let it go more than 2-3 weeks without discharging and recharging. This is especially important for non Li-Ion batteries.
13. Don't leave it in sunlight - Batteries are sensitive and exposing them to extreme temperatures can cause major damage. Not only can it completely ruin them but it will also suck the life out of them. Avoid placing your laptop in direct sunlight.
14. Turn off wireless and Bluetooth - Turning off your Bluetooth and wireless won't save you a whole lot of power but in certain situations every bit counts.
15. Decrease hard drive activity - When your hard drive spins it uses power. Defragmenting it regularly will put less demand on it because data is found more quickly.
16. Avoid using the CD/DVD player - Using the CD/DVD drive on your laptop should be avoided at all costs. Even having a disk in the drive uses power. Try copying what you need from a disk to the hard drive before hand.
17. Be picky with software - Some software programs suffer from bloatware and will eat your battery super fast. Avoid using things like Adobe Photoshop, your digital camera software, and other image editing software.
18. Less is more - Next time you're in the market for a new laptop, think twice about that 17in widescreen. You'd be much better off opting for a smaller machine that won't devour half of a battery just to power up.
19. Turn off speakers - If you must listen to music use your iPod instead, just make sure it's not plugged into your laptop.
20. Carry a spare device or battery - This seems like a common sense thing to do, but make sure you always carry a spare device or battery. It will come in handy in case of an emergency or long stretches between power outlets.