You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who hasn’t experienced the problem of their mobile, tablet, laptop or other device being short of battery. There is no shortage of advice, guidance and other ideas that are claimed to be the ‘holy-grail’ of battery saving. There are some fairly quick solutions such as having a power pack or spare battery to hand and simply turning of the device until such time you get access to a power source.
There are however a mixture of measures; both short term ‘there and then’ fixes and longer term solutions which will increase your device’s battery life in the long term. Generally though, a mixture of short and longer term strategies is the way to ensure you get the very best out of your laptop, no matter its make, model and purpose.
By ensuring your laptop runs more efficiently and for longer, you are likely to increase your own productivity and therefore efficiency by not having to worry about power issues (for more about increasing your productivity read more here.)
Battery Saving and Eco Modes
All devices will have a mode that is designed purely for battery life. What this means is that whilst some features may be limited when you activate this mode, it will allow you to use your laptop’s basic functions like word processing for a lot longer than if this mode were turned off.
This mode will turn off unnecessary apps, adjust the running of the device to use less power and sometimes may turn off the Wi-Fi capability of your device. While this may seem somewhat annoying, if you are using your laptop for word processing, editing spreadsheets or something similar, this can give you significantly more ‘battery juice,’ as your device will no longer need to expend its energy connecting to the internet.
Reduce Screen Brightness
This is a fairly obvious one, but nonetheless a very important one. Logically, when your screen brightness is turned to maximum (which is what most people do), it may make seem easier to see what you are doing, but in reality, it is shortening the life of your battery. Moreover, your eyes will simply adapt to a slightly dimmed screen backlight.
The screen brightness is the most draining factor for almost all electronic devices be they laptops, tablets, smartphones or anything in between. It is always made very simple to turn down the brightness. For most laptops it will be a matter of using the ‘Function’ key and then turning down the brightness and some laptops have dedicated brightness keys to make it that bit easier.
Unused Ports and Connected Devices
Every single feature and connected device for all laptops needs power and usually this will come from the laptop itself. For example, if you plug in an external hard drive, you will likely hear it power up or see some lights flickering to indicate it is being powered. The source of this power is the battery of your device.
By removing unnecessary external devices that are plugged into and powered by your laptop’s ports, you will allow more of your device’s power to be used exclusively for the running of the machine, rather than spreading it out amongst numerous attachments, devices and unused functions.
An important point to note: Always make sure that the device you remove or disconnect is not in use or integral to what you are doing or the running of your machine. For example, it isn’t a good idea to disable your device’s hard drive as this is what houses most of your device’s information and what is needed for its running. Always check and double check before disabling or removing any devices or attachments.
Turn off Unused Apps, Programmes and Processes
Most laptops have background data and apps that run whether you are directly using them or not. These apps, processes and programmes use up a fair bit of your device’s battery life. For Windows laptops, pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc opens up the Task Manager (source: PC Mag).
Using the Task Manager you can identify and then terminate programmes and processes that are unnecessarily using battery life. Closing these processes will save battery life. In addition, programmes, apps and processes that are left open i.e. not exited/ logged out/ turned off, will continue to use valuable battery life.
Physical Care of your Laptop
It isn’t just intricacies and software that can make the difference between having more power and being inefficient with your device’s running. Some of the simplest ways to keep devices running efficiently; using their power to the fullest extent are the physical methods of caring for your device.
Keeping Things Clean and Dust-Free
For those who don’t have devices with a Solid State Drive (SSD), that is a device that will have fewer moving parts, such as the hard drive and cooling fan, keeping your machine clean can make a significant difference. For example, for devices with a fan that is used to cool the device and prevent overheating, dust, dirt and debris can be a nightmare for battery life.
This is because excessive debris and dust that gets to the fan obstruct its working, causing it to have to work harder to cool the device. By cleaning the device and removing these potential obstructions, the fan will be able to work with less power, saving your battery.
See here for instructions on how to clean out dust from your laptop’s fan.
Use the Battery and Charge up
There is the old adage that you should only charge your battery to 70% or 80% so as not to ‘overwork’ it. However, this was the case with older-fashioned nickel metal hydride batteries. Nowadays, batteries are lithium-ion or lithium-polymer and this doesn’t apply.
So, instead of only charging your device to three quarters full or something similar, charge it to full. In simple terms this means that rather than only getting 70% of the time your battery can offer by only charging it up to say 70%, you can get an extra 30% out of the device’s power source by just charging it up properly.
Also, whilst it is true that it is preferable to not completely run the battery down often, every once in a while it is recommended to do just that through normal use to keep the battery healthy.