Imagine this: You’re finally motivated to get some work done, so you find the perfect spot to sit and work for a few hours. That’s when you notice your laptop battery is flashing red and only has about ten percent battery left. Sound familiar?
Or maybe, this is more your situation: You sit down to binge on a few episodes of your latest Netflix addiction and by the time you finish of an episode or two, you see that your battery has been drained significantly. And you can’t figure out why so one episode has nearly drained your entire laptop battery.
Whichever is your situation, energy management has plagued portable computing since its inception, but thanks to more powerful batteries, newer processors, and smarter software, it’s getting better all the time. However, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that your laptop battery is lasting for as long as it possibly can.
- Mind your apps: Try to limit how many apps you’re using at one time. Your battery will last much longer if you use your laptop or basic, low-power tasks, such as word processing, web browsing and emailing, than it will for system resource-hungry applications like online gaming and video playback. Furthermore many apps, such as mail, are constantly checking for information in the background, notifying you of new messages or downloading data—which can burn through your battery life even when you aren’t paying any attention to them. Therefore, not only should you keep up with what you’re using, but you should pay attention to what might also be open and/or running in the background of the device.
- Limit accessory usage: External accessories that connect via Wifi or Bluetooth, such as wireless mice or keyboards or external hard drives, will cause your laptop battery to drain even faster. A good option to help conserve the device’s battery life is to switch from Wifi to Airplane Mode, which turns off all embedded radios. This will stop your computer from looking for other devices to join. Connected peripherals can be a factor in eating away at its battery life. Try using the touchpad instead of using an external mouse, even if it is a bit more tedious, this action will extend the duration of your time on the device.
- Dim the screen: This one may seem like a no-brainer, however, dimming the brightness of the screen can help conserve a considerable amount of battery. And since most laptops come with auto-dimming functionality, there are times where you don’t realize how much energy your screen is using. However, you are able to override the auto-dimming function, which can usually be found on your laptop’s secondary keyboard commands, such as icons that look like little suns, and then manually reducing the brightness (F keys, on a Windows PC). If you’re shopping for a new laptop, keep in mind the bigger the laptop screen, the faster the battery drain, generally speaking.
- Tweak power settings for personal preference: Windows users can also click on Power and Sleep Settings, to manually reduce the power consumption of your laptop. You may opt for your screen to go dark when not in use for, say, two minutes, but will turn on instantly again when a key is touched. Windows 10 also has a toggle button that enables Battery Saver mode, to limit background activity such as push email, calendar syncing, live tile updates, and more. Windows 10 and macOS High Sierra offer additional power and sleep settings to customize your experience. For macOS users, creating ‘hot corners’ will be beneficial, as it will let you put your screen to sleep immediately by simply sweeping the cursor into the designated corner.
- Ditch the disc: If your laptop still has an optical media built-in to the unit, such as a CD-ROM or DVD, be aware the battery will drain faster if there’s a spinning disc in the drive. Instead, be sure to choose to first install media to the computer itself if it’s an option — such as a game, movie, or album – and put the disc away at home. Your laptop battery will last much longer in programs with little drain on system resources, such as a word processor.
- Opt for solid state drives: When choosing your next laptop, go with one that has a solid-state drive (SSD) instead of a hard disc drive (HDD), as it’s less taxing on the battery (as there are no moving parts). Plus, a SSD is smaller, lighter, faster, and more durable than a HDD. The one downside is they don’t typically hold as many files as a hard drive (256GB opposed to 2-terabytes). Some laptops have a combination of SSD and HDD, which are used for different tasks.
- Buy better: Whenever you’re finally ready to upgrade, be sure to invest in a unit with a good CPU, such as Intel’s 8th Gen Core processors. These chips aren’t just for fast performance and smooth multitasking, they are also ideal for extending battery life considerably. Also, when you are looking for a new device, it is ideal to have a choice in configuration. Consider a more powerful battery, such as opting for a 12-cell battery instead of a 6-cell battery, or a higher WHr (watt-hour) number, such as 62 over 43.
Using these steps will help to efficiently make use of your device’s battery. Although, you must keep in mind that the older the device is and the more data you have stored on it, the slower the battery capacity will be. If this is the case, then take the necessary steps to make the most of your device while preparing for an upgrade.