How to make a laptop PC’s battery last longer

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I recall sitting next to a young man – some years ago – who was designing away on Corel Draw, boy was he good! About 50 minutes into his designs, our power supply got seized (nothing shocking to anybody in Nigeria). A couple of mouse clicks later, my neighbor began sweating profusely. Puzzled, I looked at the windows and around the room to confirm my theory that it wasn’t as hot as my neighbor made it look. Feeling sorry for him, I asked why he was sweating so profusely. It turned out that his 100% battery only lasts for 30 minutes and he was quite far from completing the designs for his presentation scheduled to hold in a few hours (which could either get him promoted or fired). I asked for 5 minutes to take a look at his laptop (which he reluctantly granted). A few core orientations and optimizations later, I handed the laptop back. His battery lasted for over an hour after which the power got restored. You definitely would want to know what I did in those 5 minutes, right? That’s what this tutorials is all about (for Android users, see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-make-an-android-phones-battery-last-longer/ ).

What could cause a laptop PC’s battery not to last long?

The major causes of poor battery life are:

  • Over-heating: If you put your palm under some laptops, you’ll be amazed at how hot they could get when running. Some even emit generator-like noises from their air vents; overheating! Overheating = Poor battery life
  • Leaving WIFI / Bluetooth ON: Leaving your WIFI / Bluetooth radios on when not in use is one way to drain your battery quickly if that’s what you’re out to achieve
  • Too many Auto-start items: Auto-start items are those apps / processes that run on boot (mouse effects, screen savers etc). Having too many unneeded auto-start items will have a negative impact on battery
  • Running too many programs at a time: Running too many programs at a time consumes more system resources than normal, battery being one of them.
  • Running on High performance power plan: This is one wide pit many fall into; and there’s always space for some more. Everybody seems to want “High performance” things these days (mostly without having a clue how to utilize them). Using the High performance plan on battery will ‘High performance’ your battery flat.
  • Screen brightness set too high: Your LCD Screen is one of the biggest consumers of battery. Setting your screen brightness too high makes a short battery life imminent
  • Peripheral devices: Leaving unused peripheral devices like CD/DVD drives, external drives etc running consumes a notable percentage of your battery
  • Damaged battery: Yes, of course. If the battery in question is damaged then you shouldn’t expect it to perform optimally
  • Poor charging practices: You’ll be shocked by what some people subject their batteries to; yet, they expect a good battery life

When you say “Poor charging practices, could you shed more light on that?

Absolutely! Some common poor battery charging practices include:

  • Connecting the power pack’s jack or pin to the laptop’s charging port before connecting the plug to a power source
  • Continually adjusting the power pack’s plug while the laptop is plugged into the power pack in an attempt to get the right position to make the laptop charge
  • Pulling out the battery while the PC is charging
  • Leaving the laptop connected to power when 100% charged (Nickel-Ion based)

How long should my battery normally last?

There is no direct answer to this question because it could depend on the battery type, laptop hardware and tasks being executed. On average though, you should expect around 2 hours battery time on most PCs running minor tasks.

How can I make a laptop PC’s battery last longer?

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There are quite some simple techniques you could employ to get more out of your battery. Some are:

  • Use Hibernate over Sleep or Shutdown: If you need to put your laptop aside for a few hours then use Hibernate over Sleep or Shutdown. Hibernate consumes much less power than Sleep and Shutdown. A PC in Hibernate mode can only be woken up by the power button; unlike Sleep that can be disrupted by scheduled tasks.
  • Re-calibrate (Nickel-based): If you’re using a Nickel-Ion based battery then re-calibrate the battery
  • Avoid over-heating: Ensure to brush off dust from the air vent and also tilt the laptop during use such that air can easy circulate and cool the bottom
  • Turn off your WIFI (wireless) and Bluetooth when not in use: Yes, if your WIFI and Bluetooth radios are not in use the turn them off to conserve battery
  • Disable unneeded Auto-start items: Keep auto-start items at their barest minimum. (see https://journal.hovatek.com/how-to-fix-a-slow-hanging-or-crashing-pc/ to learn how to disable auto-start items)
  • Reduce the number of running applications: Ensure to close unused applications / background processes and keep only needed ones running (Use ctrl + alt + del to access Task Manager)
  • Change power plan: When on battery, use Power Saver or Balanced. Avoid using High Performance when running on battery if you really wish to conserve battery. Click the battery icon at the bottom right to change power plan
  • Reduce screen brightness: Ensure to use just the level of screen brightness you need. This is one trick that could save you tens of battery minutes. Click the battery icon at the bottom right to adjust screen brightness
  • Disconnect unused peripheral devices: Ensure to disconnect any active peripheral device which is not needed (external storage, CD/DVD drive ect).
  • Employ healthy battery charging practices: Protect your laptop from sparks while charging and also avoid leaving your battery plugged in at 100% too frequently
  • Disable aesthetics when running on battery: Disable those fancy Aero effects, themes, animations and screen savers when running on battery and you’ll be rewarded with extra battery minutes
  • Install a good Power Assistant software: Install the power assistant software for your laptop’s model. Its advanced options will give you access to more battery tweaks
  • If all the above tips and more still don’t boost the laptop’s battery time then you should consider purchasing a new battery

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