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How to Extend the Life of Your Laptop Battery

You can extend the life of your laptop’s battery by using its hardware and software features strategically.

  • If you’re not using a device, turn it off. For example, switch off the WiFi transceiver when you don’t need to communicate wirelessly.

  • Avoid unnecessarily using the hard drive. If your word processor is set to autosave your work every 5 minutes, consider changing that to every 10 or 15 minutes.

  • Resist the temptation to play a music CD while you work. Instead, convert the songs to MP3 or WAV files, and play them from your hard drive or from a separate music player like an iPod.

  • Don’t use external devices that draw power from the laptop battery. These include desktop mice and memory card readers.

  • Find a comfortable environment. Extreme heat (over 80 degrees) makes your battery discharge more quickly than usual and could, in the worst case, result in a meltdown; cold temperatures make batteries sluggish.

  • Make sure the cooling vents aren’t blocked by dirt or by objects. The fans within laptops are critical to your system’s health.

  • Turn down the light. The LCD uses a backlight that illuminates the screen from behind. Use your laptop’s power-control utilities to automatically reduce backlighting when it runs on batteries, or try manually reducing the screen brightness using the appropriate function key.

  • Reduce the load on your microprocessor. Unless you really need to run multiple programs at the same time, avoid multitasking. Close any applications and utilities that you don’t need open.

  • Be aware of the varying demands of different software. Most basic office programs, like Word and Excel, are more efficient than digital image editors and music editors, which demand a lot of memory and processor effort.

  • Use Standby and Hibernate modes appropriately. Use the Standby (or Suspend) feature for quick timeouts, and the Hibernate feature when you take a break of more than 20 minutes.

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