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What to Do When Your Laptop Battery Isn't Providing Power

If your laptop's battery doesn't seem to be pumping out enough power, do some troubleshooting before you spend the money on a new battery. First, check to see that the battery hasn't been accidentally disconnected from the laptop. Most laptops hold the battery in a bay or a slot on the underside of the machine with a latch to hold it in place; that latch can become dislodged during travel.

The battery may also be completely discharged. Usually, though, a laptop shuts down when battery power declines to about 5 percent of full capacity; that’s usually enough to allow the machine to begin to come to life the next time you try to start it but not sufficient to permit operation.

Batteries do not last forever. They usually have a period of slow decline during which they hold their charge for a shorter period of time, or the number of hours they power the laptop decline. The final stage for some batteries is essentially a short: They will not accept a charge at all.

The best way to determine if the battery is not working properly is to check to see if the laptop works properly when connected to an AC adapter. Most laptops can be run from a wall current without a battery present.

If you find you do need to purchase a new battery, make sure you dispose of the old one properly. Batteries can contain toxic chemicals that ought to be kept out of landfills, so don't just toss it in the trash. When you buy a new battery, ask the salesperson if they have a battery recycling program. If that person can't help you, do an Internet search for battery recycling and the name of the nearest metropolitan area to find companies that will safely recycle the insides of an old battery.

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