One of the downsides of owing a notebook PC is battery life, despite the claims of the marketing people, it always seems that you have to recharge more often than you expect, and not only that, but the actual lifespan of a battery before it needs replacing isn’t always up to scratch, like all rechargeable batteries, the one in a notebook has a finite number of recharges before its performance degrades and eventually it will stop holding a charge, although some unlucky people find their battery goes that great landfill in the sky within a year, somehow, it always seems to be just when the warranty has expired, generally the battery in a notebook, without any intervention, with the same extra care, though you can increase the longevity of the battery and at the same times stretch the time between recharges, giving you more time to do your work. In this feature we’ll give you hints and tips on how you can prolong the running time of your notebook’s battery, on many notebooks, there may be fewer options to tweak.
Vista and XP tools
Saving energy is the key to conserving battery life and extending the time between charges, finding ways to do this is not rocket science, just a matter of good housekeeping, happily both vista and XP have to the tools to make some of this easier, although XP users will need to do a little more work than those with vista, vista includes a huge number of option that can be used to reduce the amount of power consumed, user can select from three predefined power schemes each of which can be further customized as required, such as by turning off the screen after a pre set time or shutting down the hard disk after a period of inactivity, you can also balance the power use and performance of wireless network cards.
Vista even allows you set the minimum and maximum speed of the processor, the vista user can also decide how long the notebook should wait before putting the computer to sleep or going into hibernation mode, the USB setting can also be used to suspend USB devices when vista goes to sleep, so your external hard drive will shut down too, for instance, there are lots more options and it’s well worth exploring them, and if none of the pre-set configurations suits you, vista lets users create their own power plan. Similar powers saving option are available in XP but they are not quite as comprehensive, for examples users can adjust how quickly the notebook hard disk or screen goes into standby, you can set alarms for when the batter reaches a certain point and at which level of battery life the computer should go into hibernation’s mode.
The more physical devices, such as USB broadband dongles, that require electricity you hook up to your notebook, that more electricity you hook up to your notebook, the more of the batteries powers you can expect to consume, use only those that are essential, the hard disk is a power is a power hog but you will drain even more power by using the CD/DVD drive, if you really want to play music or watch a movie, it’s better to rip the media to the hard disk.
The amount of available memory can have a big effect on battery life, when notebook can use its physical memory resources to store information; less battery power is used, as it won’t to have to swap information to and from the hard disk, if you have limited memory installed say between 6256 – 512 MB with XP and 512 – 1 GB with vista, consider installing more to avoid using virtual memory, alternatively keep the number of applications running at the same time to a minimum, turn down the brightness on your notebook display, too, as this will give you more life between charges.
Looking after the battery
You need exercise and so does your battery, if you’re not using you notebook for while, remove the battery and keep it somewhere clean and cool, however, charged lithium ion batteries and that’s the type used in just about all notebooks, should not be left dormant for too long; use them at least once every two or three weeks, remember that while you should not let a lithium ion battery completely discharge, this is for batteries that suffer from memory effects, be careful about over charging it, keep them at about 40 percent charged, if you constantly power your notebook from main electricity you will substantially reduce the life of your battery, because it will be being warmed up by the laptop, keep the battery contact clean.
End of days
One day your battery will die, no matter how carefully you treat it, a sign of impending doom is having to recharge the battery more often, notebook manufactures will happily sell you a replacement and even a spare, unless you really need a spare, for example, you work away from power sockets for hours every day, batteries will degrade whether user or not, and you may not get your money’s worth from a second one, second hand batteries are not great because you really have no way of knowing how they’ve been treated and how much life they have left, instead, shop around for a good deal on replacement battery, and remember to recycle, your council can tell you about arrangements for disposal of batteries.