The age of mobile technology is truly amazing. We can move from pillar to post as much as we please and still stay connected. However, we’re not completely mobile because we’re still chained to the nearest outlet with our device’s chargers while we keep a constant eye on the pesky little battery gauge. Yet, while we won’t ever truly be able to eliminate these things, there are a few ways to make your situation better. The first step is so know how to take care of your device’s battery. And when it comes to your laptop, we know just the steps you need to make sure your battery is running up to speed.
Saving cycles will help save your battery
All laptop batteries are built to handle a certain number of charge cycles, which is the process of charging a rechargeable battery and discharging it as required into a load. The term is typically used to specify a battery’s expected life. Essentially, a charge cycle equals one full discharge down to zero percent and then a recharge back up to 100 percent. Likewise, a discharge down to 50 percent and then back up to 100 percent would be equal to half a cycle. In other words, the fewer times you drain the battery, the longer your device’s battery will last you.
One of the best ways to do this is to switch your computer over to ‘eco-mode,’ a common systems preference that can be found on the main menu of your laptop’s OS. This mode will manage the way your device uses energy in an effort to conserve battery energy. Other ways that you can save your cycles is to manually reduce the amount of power you use by opting to shut off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and keyboard backlighting when you’re not using them.
Another function that will be helpful is managing your laptop’s hibernation modes. Ideally, you want your laptop to enter hibernation before the battery is completely drained. Hibernation is typically a power state where everything in working memory has been written to the hard drive or SSD and then the laptop is turned completely off. But what makes hibernation different from other sleep states available with most modern laptops, it uses zero power while others use a minimal amount.
Additionally, it’s a good practice to quit any applications you have running in the background. These apps are what typically eat up your battery life. On a Windows computer, you can look at your System Tray, your Task Manager, and your Processes tab to see which of those icons really aren’t necessary. With macOS, you can see what apps are using the most power by clicking on the battery icon in the task-bar located in the upper right by opening the Activity Monitor and selecting the Energy section. Cloud storage services or video players that you aren’t using can be safely shut down.
Keeping your battery in zone
A few decades back when technology well less advanced, there was a common problem called “battery memory” that caused nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to “forget” their full charge capacity and start charging at lower and lower levels — until there was hardly any left. However, with the modern lithium-ion batteries that we have today, this issue is pretty much non-existent.
And you’ve probably heard that it’s a good practice to ‘drain’ your laptop’s battery every now and then to keep your battery working the way that it should — almost as if you are reminding it of its battery capacity. However, contrary to this popular belief, you do not need to complete discharge a lithium-ion battery and then charge it back up to somehow reboot or recalibrate the battery. This is actually a destructive practice that is very hard on your battery. Generally, the consensus seems to be that letting your battery discharge (not completely, but down to around 20 percent or so) and then charge it when possible is a much better practice to follow.
Another common misconception is that keeping your devices plugged in as often as possible (i.e. over night) is actually bad for your battery. The theory is based on the idea that letting a battery charge to 100 percent could eventually wear the battery out more quickly. However, today’s modern devices are designed to stop charging once they hit 100 percent and therefore keeping them plugged in hardly impacts the battery’s lifespan.
Generally speaking, the best thing you can do for your lithium-ion battery is to avoid letting it discharge below 20 percent. Plug it in and charge it when you can, and then rinse and repeat. The good news is that with modern batteries and systems there’s really not much else you need to do — except perhaps reasonably expect that your battery will eventually start losing its overall capacity.
Don’t let your laptop overheat
Lithium-ion batteries may be more durable than its predecessor, however, they are finicky devices that can only take so much in temperature fluctuations. Both high and low temperatures can damage your laptop battery permanently, or reduce its useful lifespan.
If your laptop ever begins to grow abnormally warm, perhaps because the CPU or graphics processor is working hard or the environment is overly hot, then be sure to shut the device down and if able, pop the battery out. Giving your device a break where it can cool down could save you the headache of having to purchase a new battery.
In all, you’ll want to give your laptop some good old TLC. On top configuring your settings to manage your device’s battery, you should also keep up with some maintenance by cleaning out your laptop of any dust and debris that may be clogging up the cooling vents. Make sure that the contact points are especially clean. And of course, keep your laptop up-to-date with software! Companies continuously work hard to improve the way programs use power via software updates.