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Tricks & Tips

Posts Tagged ‘Battery’


By Terry Kirby


They’re costly to replace, so follow these guidelines to keep your laptop battery healthy and happy:

  • The most important thing is to USE your battery.  Do NOT leave your laptop plugged in all the time. Allow it to run from battery sometimes to keep the battery in good shape.  Fully drain and fully charge the battery every two to three weeks.
  • Fully charge new batteries before use.  New batteries need to be fully charged and discharged a few times before they can condition to full capacity.
  • Remove the battery from the notebook and store in a cool, dry place if the battery will not be in use for more than a few weeks.
  • Avoid exposure to extreme temperatures. Leaving your laptop in your car during summer or winter months will reduce its life.  This is so easy to do.  But don’t.  😉

By Terry Kirby


Here are 10 ways you can greatly extend the use of your battery’s charge while on the go.  Extend, as in 30 minutes or more!

  1. Reduce screen brightness – This is huge.  The lower, the better.  Check keyboard icons for which buttons modify this. Probably hold the Fn key while pressing up or down, or one of the F keys (F6/F7?).  It all depends on your model.
  2. Tune the radio off! Most laptops have an external switch to turn off wireless and Bluetooth radios.  Again, probably an Fn + F key on the keyboard.
  3. Limit usage of external devices such as USB connected devices.
  4. Don’t open many applications at once.
  5. Exit programs you aren’t using. Programs that start with your computer are just pulling away at your battery.  Exit things like QuickTime, MSN Messenger, Google Desktop, etc.
  6. Keep it cool.  Increased heat it puts more stress on your laptop and starts up the fan.
  7. Use hibernation when not in use vs sleep mode.
  8. Use light programs such as Word, Excel, or internet browsing. Stay away from graphic intensive applications or even media players.
  9. Avoid playing games, music, or DVDs.
  10. Mute your sound.

Solid state drives are available in some new laptops.  They’re basically a huge flash drive instead of a hard drive at all.  As they don’t have any moving parts, some manufactures advertise up to 18 hours of usage.  Look for this option on your next purchase.

Need power while stuck in an airport?  A Microsoft employee started this wiki to detail power outlet locations.


USB Port for Your Car

June 19th, 2008

USB Car Adapter
You can get a USB adapter that plugs into your cigarette lighter in your car.  They can be extremely useful.  I just got one the other day and I love it.  Use it to power or charge your MP3 player, GPS unit, camera, etc.  My BlackBerry uses a standard USB cable so I charge my cell phone battery.  Don’t buy the proprietary $30 chargers for EACH device.  If your electronics have power options via USB, just power it with the cigarette lighter USB converter.

Wal-Mart, OfficeMax, and Radio Shack probably all have them.  I found several suppliers online for less than $5.  Here are some links if you prefer to shop from home:
http://tinyurl.com/5bx38h  (has light to indicate power, 2 USB ports)
http://tinyurl.com/636mat  (great photos and reviews,  no light and only single port)

(There are also some that convert a 110 home power outlet to a USB charger. That’d  be great for traveling / hotels.)


Battery Backup

May 22nd, 2008

UPS BatteryLet me get right to the point: You need a UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supply, aka. “battery backup”) on most electronic devices you own, especially your computer. If you value your investment, or the data you have collected, don’t skimp here.

Without a UPS, your computer or other electronic device plugs into your electrical outlet and is subject to whatever voltage comes down the line. Low voltage (brownout), high voltage (spike or surge), or other conditions feed right into your device. This can cause minor damage or complete failure.

A UPS plugs into the outlet first. It conditions and protects the power it supplies to your computer. And they work well.  If they don’t, most manufactures offer a warranty of coverage of ($25,000 or more) to compensate.

A UPS is commonly known to provide battery time to sustain your computer while the power is out. On a basic UPS you have 5-20 minutes, tops. This is enough time to save your work and shutdown. Or to prevent shutdown if your power is on the blinks. To provide sustained uptime, that would be a generator. 😉

Recently an office we support had a rare incident of continuous high voltage throughout the office. Initially walking in in the morning, all the computers were off but the lights were on. Odd, but we later determined the UPSes disconnected power to the computers to protect them. A couple of hours later, the power company found a problem on their line. Other medical equipment in the office, not on UPS were fried.

Don’t wait for a problem to occur to take this serious. The common manufacture for UPSes is APC. Office Max sells these for $40 – $100.

Here’s a pretty well written FAQ I found online: http://www.jetcafe.org/~npc/doc/ups-faq.html.