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Long Live the Laptop Battery!

Laptop batteries have always had a rough road, more so than most components. As users, we’re demanding; we expect a lot from our little battery buddies, and that’s ok. At least it’s ok until they stop working. When you’re left languishing over lost productivity, scrambling for a long-enough cord and an outlet close to the desk, the pain is real. This power predicament is a chief concern in education, notably for laptops in labs or mobile carts that connect with multiple students all day long.

So let’s explore some of the ways we can smooth out the bumps and potholes hindering the laptop battery landscape.

Keep it cool, keep it capable

Too much heat will ruin anything. Cupcakes in an oven, your margarita-loving uncle in the hottub, few things are safe, and your laptop battery isn’t one of them. Using your laptop will cause it to heat up, sure. There’s no way around it. However, make sure the natural, operational heat doesn’t get out of hand, which will help your battery last longer.

So cool on this: one key culprit is ventilation. Check that your machines’ air vents are dust-free and blowing strong. Hit them with the compressed air can every once in a while and try not to store them in any dusty dungeons. Charging carts are a big help. When you’re not storing your devices, just remember that keeping laptops on a flat surface like a desk will ensure proper ventilation. I know it’s weird, but keep those laptops out of laps.

Safe technology

This isn’t health class, but the lesson is the same. You have to connect carefully. The technology you connect to your laptop can hurt its battery life, so make sure that peripheral devices you use with your laptop aren’t power sinks. Your average computer mouse is usually safe, but be wary of external storage drives and USB devices, as they can quickly sour your power. If you need to upload media, try to plug that camera in when you’re laptop has a sustained power source.

And keep those smartphones unplugged.

Setting sabotage

Like a lot of us, laptops have habits that shorten their lifespans, or at least the lifespans of their batteries. Think of these habits as the bacon cheeseburgers and extra large cigars of the computer world. Your laptop is trying to make things easier to handle, but it’s shortening its span of operation in the process. The good news is that the biggest culprits are easy to fix, so here’s a list of life-lengthening laptop settings:

  • That bright screen that looks like Valhalla calling, dim it!
  • While we’re talking screens, ditch the screen saver. You can close the laptop during short spans of downtime. Your batteries will thank you.
  • If you’re not using them, and you’re likely not, disable Bluetooth and flash. These two gluttons wreak havoc on laptop power efficiency.
  • Consider this tongue twister: “Program pile-ups preclude plenty of power.” Frustrating, right? Well, it just means that reducing the amount of programs you’re running will give your battery a longer life. Close programs you’re not actively using and be aware of the sneaky ones running in the background.

Amiable additions

If you’re more into the set-it-and-forget-it method, we have two super simple suggestions for getting the most out of your battery. Consider employing one or both of these inexpensive options.

First, you can add more RAM. If your laptop runs out of available memory, it will start pulling less-efficient system resource to run all of your applications, which will drain your battery very quickly.

Second, consider installing energy optimizing software like BatteryCare or Battery Optimizer. Programs like these help you control your machines’ battery usage by identifying battery-draining applications and processes and providing you with tools to manage or automate how your system handles its workload.

Now you have the know-how; cheers to longer life!