While there are plenty of laptops on the market that provide enough battery life for a full day’s work, there are many others that barely provide two or three hours. Typically, the more powerful the machine, the more power it requires, and if one of your main priorities is the freedom to work on the move or anywhere else where you don’t have access to a power point, finding the optimal trade-off between battery life, performance and functionality can be difficult. Those with more powerful laptops, such as desktop replacements and gaming machines, often find themselves severely restricted when it comes to battery life. Fortunately, there are some ways to provide that essential bit of additional power while you’re on the road.
1 – Change Your Power Plan
While your computer should automatically change over to a reduced power consumption mode as soon as you disconnect it from the mains, you can make some additional tweaks to further increase battery life. You’ll find the necessary settings by navigating to Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Power Options. Change the plan settings for the power plan that is activated when running off the battery by clicking “Change Plan Settings” followed by “Change advanced power settings”. Tweak these settings for optimal battery life, paying particular attention to USB settings, maximum processor state (under processor power management and adaptive brightness (under Display).
2- Disable or Disconnect Unused Devices
One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce power consumption is to simply turn off or disconnect as many devices as possible. After all, every device inside and connected to your laptop requires power, even if it is not in use. Disconnect any external drives that you don’t need, and remove the CD/DVD drive if you have one installed. Other major power hogs include WiFi adapters, Bluetooth radios and dedicated graphics processors. Although you can safely disable these from the Device Manager, you might find it easier and more practical to tweak the settings in the BIOS to use on-board graphics and disable unused components before using your laptop on the battery. You can access the BIOS by tapping F2 as soon as you turn on the computer.
3 – Tweak Your Settings
Windows’ power management settings provide a few useful ways to conserve battery life, but they do not provide more advanced controls that are specific to your laptop. Many model-specific settings may be changed using your laptop’s keyboard. Some examples include keyboard backlighting, volume controls and display brightness. By disabling backlighting, muting the speakers and reducing the monitor brightness as much as you feel comfortable with, you can greatly increase battery life. If you do still need sound, you’ll usually find that using a pair of earbuds consumes far less power than the speakers built in to your laptop or a powerful pair of USB headphones.
4 – Turn off Background Tasks
Background tasks, particularly those carried out by the junk software that ships with most new laptops or free software downloads, bogs down your computer and consumes battery life. Take a look at the system tray by clicking on the upward-pointing arrow beside the system clock to see which programs are running in the background. Close down anything that you know you don’t need, including instant messaging applications, software distribution platforms and additional control panels. Additionally, you can prevent such programs from launching automatically at system startup by right-clicking on the taskbar and navigating to Task Manage > More Details > Startup and disabling unused programs (particularly those with medium or high startup impacts).
5 – Upgrade Your Computer
A long-term option for extending battery life, upgrading your laptop might cost a fair bit, but it doesn’t have to be nearly as expensive as buying a new machine entirely. Carrying around an additional battery can double battery life or more if you get a 6-cell rather than a 3-cell battery, and they usually cost well under $100 as well. Another option is to buy an external power pack that plugs into your computer just like the mains power supply does, since they can be used with any device, including a desktop computer, tablet or smart phone. You can also increase battery life by upgrading or replacing some of the hardware inside your computer. One option includes replacing a conventional hard disk drive with a solid state drive, which are much faster and provide no moving parts meaning that they draw minimal power.
Although the above tips will help you to extend your laptop’s battery life, it is important to remember that any battery degrades over time to such an extent that it can no longer hold nearly as much power as it did when it was new. This wear and tear is completely normal, and you may find that the only practical option after a few years of heavy use is to buy a replacement battery pack. On a final note, remember not to run any laptop on the battery if you have access to mains power, since this will serve only to reduce its lifespan.