Spending a small amount of time to extend the life of your laptop battery is well worth the investment. After all, exerting a bit of time can allow you to extend the life by a year or more, which can mean the difference between an affordable laptop and something that is requiring too much of your money in order to stay running.
1) You are first going to need to come to grips with screen brightness. In order to power the laptop when you are not plugged in and just running off the battery the laptop must power the entire computer including the monitor from the laptop. If you are willing to lower the screen brightness to the lowest setting or something similar, you can really extend the life of your battery for each charge. Lowering the screen can add several hours to your battery life for each charge.
2) You should also take some time to disable anything that is not necessary which could be running in the background. Examples can include Bluetooth software, Wi-Fi network detection and anything else that you are not actively using. These programs will make the CPU run faster which will drain your battery much faster.
3) Make sure you use the operating system’s power-management features (in XP, under Power Options in the Control Panel; or in Vista, under Mobile PC in the Control Panel) to set aggressive targets for when the display will go dark – for example, after give minutes of inactivity and when the laptop should go into sleep mode. If you are not pressed for time you can set the laptop to hibernate anytime you close the lid to really increase battery life.
4) Make sure that all scheduled tasks occur when the laptop is actually plugged in. This might seem minor but a simple virus scan can take as much as an hour or more, which will require the hard drive as well as the CPU to operate at high levels during this time. The amount of time that you are spending on this can really drain a battery if you are not careful.
5) Make sure that you are limiting the multimedia usage of your computer when it is not plugged in. Listening to just a few minutes of music can significantly reduce the amount of time that your battery will last. If you are interesting is listening to music it is best to ensure that your laptop is plugged in so that you are not draining the battery significantly.
6) You should also ensure that all accessories that are not currently in use are unplugged. Most accessories will pull power from the computer itself and in the case of a laptop, this means pulling power directly from the battery. In order to maximize your battery life remove anything that you do not need at the moment. You can always simply plug it back up when you are ready to use it again without causing any harm.
7) If you are not using the wireless connection, you should also turn off the wireless port. This can allow you to really save a lot of battery power since the laptop is not forced to continuously search out a new wireless network that it can connect to. Turning it back on when needed typically only takes a few minutes and you are not going to experience a huge delay at all. Turning the port off on the other hand can save a significant amount of battery power and give you at least an additional hour on the battery.
8) If you have any PC cards in your laptop, they should be removed when not in actual use. This will once again pull power from the battery and decrease the time you can use your laptop before needing to plug it up. Since these cards are so easy to remove and insert it only takes a few mere seconds to save minutes of battery life.
9) You should also ensure that you are fully discharging your laptop battery before recharging it again. This will allow your battery to last a significantly longer period of time since it will be completely discharged and recharged, rather than shortening the battery life by repeatedly recharging a half-charged battery. Always ensure that you allow the laptop to power down on its own in order to determine exactly when the battery is fully drained.
10) As a final tip, you should always suspend your laptop rather than actually powering it down and rebooting later if you are only taking a short break. This will allow you to save the battery power required to shut down as well as reboot the computer.
If you are looking to get the longest life possible out of your laptop battery you are certainly not alone. With prices that can easily run close to $100 for a replacement it is an extremely expensive part that should be properly cared for. A small bit of prevention will allow you to really save a ton of money and ensure your laptop stays in top shape.