Stan's Chrome-Plated Tech Tips
Sunday, August 28, 2011
Low Battery Warning - How to maximize Laptop Battery Life
You've been there. You know you have. You were in the middle of a presentation, at a coffee shop, or on a plane, and then before you know it, you're rudely interrupted by some type of notification telling you to either shut down or connect your computer to a power supply. Then you go off reminiscing about a happier, gentler time. Back to when your battery held a charge for hours on end. Then you think to yourself, where did it all go wrong?
But fret not, dear reader, for your cause is not altogether lost. Well, for this particular battery, it pretty much is, but for the next one, you'll be armed with the knowledge to keep it running beyond a battery's average 2-3 year lifespan. No this is not an issue of repairing your computers' no longer optimal battery, you'll be looking at replacing this one. The next battery though, that relationship you'll keep going for the long run.
A little side note about replacing laptop batteries. You'll be tempted to save a buck or two by going with a generic, aftermarket battery. I'm here to tell you, don't do it. Generic batteries, especially ones for Apple (though the PC ones are pretty much junk too), are wildly inconsistent. For every one that seems to work great, there are plenty that don't fit right, won't hold a charge, or flat out die after a short usage period. Your mileage will vary with those things, but don't say I didn't warn you.
So what I'm going to tell you about maximizing battery life may seem a little counter-intuitive, but if you give it some though it'll make perfect sense. Use your battery. That's right. Use it. Think of a battery like a muscle that needs to be worked out to stay strong. The folks with the worst battery life are the ones who primarily keep their laptops plugged in all day long - a move that absolutely kills battery longevity. There are a few steps to maximizing the life of a new battery. First, the battery should have some charge remaing when it arrives - you're going to drain that down to where you're seeing the warnings telling you to plug in. Second, you're going to charge it all the way to 100% again and then let it drain all the way back down at least two more times. Third, you should let the battery run all the way down at least every 1-2 weeks. Fourth, when the battery is fully charged, don't leave it plugged in.
Following these simple techniques should leave you a happy camper when it comes to laptop battery life. So while that first battery is never going to go back to the honeymoon period you two once enjoyed, you aren't doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. Follow my simple advice, and you and your new battery will enjoy that fairy tale ending. At least until a newer, shiner, laptop catches your eye!
Stay charged my friends!