I’m writing this on Monday. Before leaving for work this morning, I had to jump on my laptop to write a quick email. Upon turning it on, I checked my battery status to make sure I wouldn’t have any issues and happily saw it at a 52% charge. That’s after using it several times over the weekend.
I believe that I last charged my laptop on Friday, and all I could think was – it’s a good darn thing I took the time to tweak my battery settings!
Darren the Road Warrior
Before Clark Computer Services had an office, way back when I was still doing technical visits, I considered myself to be a Road Warrior. Building and maintaining a client base, I spent all day going in and out of jobs and appointments. Between visits I could be found at the closest coffee shop, freebasing caffeine, borrowing their WiFi, and getting stuff done. Every day was the same, get coffee, sit down, remove my laptop from its bag, sip coffee, turn laptop on, sip more coffee, do work on laptop, gulp coffee, turn the laptop off, put it back in the bag, and finish coffee.
Yes, coffee was and continues to be important to my business – that’s why I always went to coffee shops – but being on the go and using my laptop on jobs throughout the day, keeping the battery in good condition was critical! If you’ve done any remote work, you know that when you’re on the move, there isn’t always an outlet within easy reach. Often when I could find one, I didn’t have the time to dig out my power cable or just didn’t have it in my bag – I was always in a hurry to get jobs done!
Tweaking the Settings
Over the years I’ve learned to take the time to tweak my laptop’s settings so that the battery lasted as long as possible. Here is what I do:
It’s been my experience that most people leave their laptops with the settings that come with it. Whenever I set up a laptop, one of the first items on my checklist is to adjust the power settings. By tweaking these settings you can really extend your batteries life. I do this through Power
Options which is found in the Control Panel.
Here are the changes that work for me:
- I have my screen turn off after 2 minutes of inactivity
- I set my laptop to go to sleep after 10 minutes of inactivity
- I turn hybrid sleep on
- I have my computer go into hibernation after 60 minutes of inactivity
This is a new feature in Windows 10 and it really works.
The “battery saver” will limit which programs are running when your laptop drains to a set charge.
I have mine set to turn on battery saver when my battery drains to a 25% charge. This allows me to squeeze extra time out of the battery before having to plug it in.
Up until now, we’ve been talking about settings, now we’re going to get into behaviors.
This one is pretty simple, the more programs you have running the faster your battery will drain and some of them really consume lots of power. As a rule, I close out programs when I’m not using them. I also like to discover which programs I use consume the most power. To do this I will use task manager to determine which programs are guilty of using to much power and I make sure I keep them closed when not using them.
I get asked all the time: “Should I leave my laptop plugged in?”
The answer is “No!”
Leaving your battery in a state of charging will decrease the lifespan of your battery – I could go into the science of it, but just trust me on this one. By that same token, it’s bad for the battery if it drains to 0%. In fact, the best practice – and what I do – is never let it get below 20% if at all possible. There are a lot of technical reason why letting your battery drain past 20% reduces its life; it has to do with battery cycles, which is a complicated process on its own and just too much to go into for this blog – again, just trust me on this, and your battery will live longer.
Inside the computer, RAM is like short term memory and a hard drive is like long term memory. When you open a program or file, it is retrieved from long term memory (your hard drive) and placed into short term memory (RAM).
What does this have to do with battery life?
Well, the process of retrieving the file or program from your hard drive and loading it into RAM consumes power. If you don’t have enough RAM, then your computer must dump things out of existing memory and retrieve the requested file or program, and then when you switch another file or program it has to do this shuffling again. The more often the computer has to switch between the hard drive and RAM, the more power it uses and the faster your battery drains.
Solid-state drives (SSD) are much faster than a traditional hard drive and I recommend switching to one for this reason alone. Put simply, a SSD will significantly speed up a computer, allowing you to do more in less time, which will save on battery time by default.
But there’s more.
Because your computer is constantly running background programs, retrieving from and writing to your hard drive, it’s always using power. Traditional hard drives are referred to as magnetic media, they have mechanical parts and must spin up to access or write data, but SSDs have no mechanical parts, storing information on semiconductor chips. By switching to an SSD the computer uses less power for its base function and allows the processes to happen faster, which means the charge on your battery will last longer.
After many years of being a Road Warrior, I’ve picked up a lot of different ways to be more efficient. Taking the time to adjust my laptop’s power settings and following a few simple rules made a huge difference in my ability to get things done and really helped me to grow my business. If you follow these tips, you too can significantly can extend life of your battery battery and be more likely to have it available whenever and wherever its needed.
As always, if you have any questions or there is anything that we can help you with, please contact us here at CLARK!
I left big business to start Clark Computer Services in 2003; not because I had a grand vision, but because I had three young children who needed their Dad around. Knowing I had to replace my salary, I went door-to-door visiting small businesses to introduce myself and ask if they needed IT support. I heard story after story from business owners and office managers about IT companies not returning calls and emails, grumpy technicians showing up late or not at all, and systems being down for days, weeks, and in some cases…months. I realized quickly that there was a clear and pressing need for reliable, honest, and professional IT support completed pleasantly and on time.