Laptop battery life ? 5 tips for longer laptop battery life

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    Few things are more annoying than the battery low alert popping up on your laptop when you least expect it.  Funny how it always happens at the worst possible time ? in the middle of finishing an important document for instance or perhaps while booking those airline tickets online for your winter sun.  To avoid this annoyance, read on for five ways to extend your laptop?s battery life from the Which? Computing Helpdesk team.

    Tip 1: Lower the brightness

    The most effective way to reduce the rate of your battery?s power consumption is to lower the brightness of your laptop?s screen.  This is usually done via a dedicated button or the Function Key (Fn Key) which doubles up as a brightness button when holding the arrow keys.

    Brightness buttons will be marked with a sun icon.  To lower your screen?s brightness, you?ll need to press the button with a down arrow repeatedly, which will usually be next to the sun icon button.

    Tip 2: Switch off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
    Another way to save power is to switch the Wi-Fi off when you?re not using it, as leaving your connection on can sap battery life.  As with brightness controls, most laptops have a dedicated switch or a Fn Key that can be used to disable or enable the wi-fi.  Check for a button labelled ?wi-fi? or one with an icon that looks either like a radio mast or like the signal bars on a mobile phone. Bluetooth is also worth keeping an eye on, as it?s often on even when it?s never used.

    Tip 3: Move to a better power setting
    Your laptop should automatically switch to a more conservative power plan whenever your PC is running on battery power, but it?s worth checking this.  In both Windows 7 and Vista, click Start, type Power Options and click the Power Options entry that appears. If the High Performance option is selected, change this to Balanced. The Power Saver option will reduce battery usage further, but may affect overall performance.  In Windows XP, similar options can be found by going to Start > Control Panel > Performance and Maintenance > Power Options.

    Select Max Battery for the lowest power usage.

    Tip 4: Further Adjust Power Options
    In Windows 7 and Vista, click Start, type Power Options and then press Enter.  Click the Change plan settings link next to your chosen power scheme, then choose shorter periods of time from the Turn off the display and Put the computer to sleep dropdown menus.  Click on Change advanced power settings to fine-tune power settings further still. You could, for example, click the plus sign next to the Hard disk entry, then click the plus sign next to Turn off hard disks and set a lower time to stop your PC?s hard drive.

    Tip 5: Shut down desktop gadgets
    Windows 7 and Vista lets you run useful mini-programs called Gadgets, such as weather tickers, directly from the desktop.  Shutting them down can help your laptop battery last longer. In Windows Vista, right-click anywhere in the Sidebar (usually on the right of the screen) and select Close Sidebar. In Windows 7, close individual Gadgets by moving your mouse over a gadget and click the X that appears. To reinstate your Gadgets in Vista, right click the Sidebar icon in the Notification Area and select Open.  In Windows 7, right-click the desktop and select Gadgets, then drag and drop them onto your desktop.

    Bonus Tip: Unplug your laptop when fully-charged
    When your laptop is fully-charged and turned-off, leaving it plugged-in to the mains has a debilitating effect on the long-term life of the battery. Over time all batteries lose a portion of their capacity and need to be replaced, but avoiding this mistake will maximise the battery?s lifetime.


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