20 ways to increase your Laptop's battery life
1. The first thing to do is lower the brightness of the screen. The screen draws most of the power in a laptop, a fully bright screen would flatten the battery in under 3 hours.
2. Next you could cut down on the amount of programs running in the background such as iTunes and MSN Messenger. All background programs add to the CPU usage and lower the battery life, so turn off the ones you don't need.
3. You could also reduce the number of programs that run on startup, since they run every time you start up your computer and eat up CPU cycles and RAM (Random Access Memory).
XP users: Start > Run and type in msconfig > OK, then click on the Startup Tab and uncheck the boxes of the programs you want to disable from running on startup.
Windows Vista/Windows 7 users: Start > type 'msconfig' without quotes > OK, then click on the Startup Tab and uncheck the boxes of the programs you want to disable from running on startup.
Note be careful which ones you disable since some can be drivers and anti-virus software that need to run every time you startup your computer. If you are not sure about some, just type them into Google followed by 'startup entry'. E.G. 'hd audio control panel startup entry'.
4. Defragment your hard drive. Windows 7, Vista and XP have a built in disk defragmenter in the control panel. All this will do is improve the efficiency of the hard drive, so it will work faster and improve battery life. Depending on the usage of the laptop this should be done once a week to once a month (but obviously not when you are using the battery!)
XP users: Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Rearrange items on your hard disk to make programs run faster > Defragment
Windows Vista/ Windows 7 users: Start > type defrag then press Enter > Defragment now. Note that Windows Vista and Windows 7 can automatically defragment your computer, just use the schedule to arrange a time to suit you.
5. Disconnect USB devices you are not using such as iPods, memory sticks and mice from the laptop while on battery as these significantly reduce the battery life. Also, if you are not using the Wi-Fi be sure to turn it off.
6. If possible, add more RAM (Random Access Memory), this will take the strain off the hard drive because when you run out of RAM, the operating system uses virtual memory, which is on the hard drive. This slows down the laptop greatly, as the hard drive is 40 times slower than RAM. This not only will increase battery life, but it will make your laptop run more smoothly.
7. Another way is to exercise the battery. Instead of leaving the battery fully charged use the battery once a week but do not let Li-ion batteries completely discharge. Only discharge for older Ni-Mh batteries that have the memory effect.
8. When you are going to leave your laptop alone for a couple of hours but want to keep you work open you have three choices.
One, you could leave the laptop running, which is a waste and should never be done unless it is doing something in the background e.g. virus scan.
Two, you could put the computer on standby, so all the work left open gets stored in the RAM and you can quickly resume when you get back, but the computer uses some power, but little power.
Three, hibernate so all the documents left open get stored on the hard disk, but the computer completely shuts down. It really depends on how long you are going to leave it for.
I would recommend hibernating all the time so no power is wasted, and only takes a couple more seconds to wake up than standby. But it depends on how long you are going to leave the laptop for.
9. When watching a DVD it is best to run it off the Hard Drive rather than the CD/DVD drive. These use more power than the hard disk. They still use power even when the disk is inactive, so where possible use programs such as Alcohol 120% rather than the CD drive to watch movies.
10. Use the operating system's power options to optimise the power usage. The best profile is Max Battery for Windows XP and power saver for Windows Vista and Windows 7.
11. Keep the temperature down. Laptop batteries discharge quicker when they are hot, so never leave them in hot cars and clean out the air vents every so often.
12. Go easy on the usage. Try to focus on one thing at a time and manage your priorities. Word Processing and reading e-mails use less power than gaming or watching DVD's.
13. If you really want to save power, get rid of Windows. If you buy an Apple Laptop with Mac OS X, you can expect to increase the life by over an hour. Apple's Macbook Pro has a ten hour battery life, Windows laptops barely get half that.
14. If you are going to leave the battery and not use it for a while, make sure that you leave the battery at 40% and never leave a Li-ion battery completely discharged for a long period of time otherwise it will ruin the battery and probably won't work.
15. Get a more efficient laptop. Modern laptops get more efficient every year at using power. Also you could look into the battery capacity of new laptops e.g 9-cell. This shows the capacity of the battery, more capacity means more battery life. However more capacity also means more weight and cost, so take into consideration these factors to find the laptop most suitable for you.
16. Most new laptops have Bluetooth built in, and is usually turned on by default. So turn Bluetooth it off when not using it, since this will save a significant amount of battery.
17. When not using the speakers mute them, this could actually give you a few more minutes of battery life, especially with older Operating Systems.
18. Be sure to update your laptop with the latest drivers and updates from Windows Update, since newer drivers help your computer to run smoother and could improve battery life.
Windows XP users: Open up Internet Explorer and type in www.windowsupdate.com (If the website wants to install Active X control click install) then click on Custom. After it has done searching for updates click on Hardware, Optional then install all the hardware updates.
Windows Vista users: Start > All Programs > Windows Update > Check for updates, then install all high priority and choose which optional updates you want.
19. This one is for more advanced users. Rightmark CPU clock utility enables some users to undervolt their CPU, but without loosing much, if any performance. It also reduces the need for a fan, as less heat is produced. Look it up in Google to find out more info.
20. Buy a new battery! This will help to give back the battery life you had with the laptop when you first bought it. Typically a battery could last 18 months, but by exercising the battery (tip 7) it could last much longer.