Maintaining and Troubleshooting Your Laptop Battery
The actual life of a laptop battery will vary with computer usage habits. For
most users, it is not uncommon to experience differences in battery life, of anywhere from just
under one hour to over two hours in each sitting. If you are experiencing shorter battery life
cycles, say 10 to 15 minutes, it may not yet be time to order that new battery.
several factors to take into consideration when determining if the time has come to replace your
battery. This information may also apply to that new battery that you have recently purchased,
that has been giving you fits. The two primary things to consider when troubleshooting battery
problems is Usage Habits and Battery Memory. We will cover both in their complexities in just a
moment, but first, let us take a look at what you should expect from your battery's life cycle.
batteries usually last 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
LiION batteries usually last 2.0 to 3.0 hours.
are average results and the results will vary greatly depending on your system's conservation
settings, the temperature of the room and the climate that you are operating your computer in. As
a general rule, your Lithium Ion battery will last much longer than your standard Nickel Metal
Now let's take a look at the various usage habits to consider when
troubleshooting your laptop's battery. These processes are very similar to the way that your
portable stereo uses batteries ... just think how much faster your stereo eats batteries when you
are playing the CD or the tape deck, as opposed to when you are just playing the radio.
more you use physical devices --- which require more electricity to operate --- the more of the
battery's power you can expect to consume. The devices that create a larger power drain are the
hard drive, the floppy drive and the CD-ROM.
When the computer is able to use its physical
memory resources to store information, the computer will use less of the battery's power, since
the process is mostly electrical in nature. However, when the processes you are using exhaust the
physical memory resources available to your system, the system will turn to virtual memory to
continue the process at hand. Virtual Memory is designed to extend system memory resources by
building a memory swap file on the hard drive, and then transfer needed information between the
hard drive and the physical memory as required. Since the hard drive is a electricity hog, the
use of virtual memory becomes an electricity hog by proxy.
Two other processes that engage
virtual memory on your computer are computational programs and the calculation processes used by
spreadsheet applications and database programs. Both of these items engage the processor to a
greater degree as well, which in itself is a consumer of electricity. Because they both compute
and calculate large quantities of information, they will also increase the amount of electricity
that your laptop will consume.
Other physical devices that cannot be left out of this
discussion are audio and display devices. As far as audio devices are concerned, speakers require
electricity to run and the software that is responsible for producing the sound does so by
processing information. The display panel consumes electricity as well. In fact, the brighter the
screen appears, the more electricity that it is consuming. You may turn down the brightness on
the screen, thereby conserving more electricity than you may have considered possible. And when
considering the battery drain caused by video devices, don't forget the effect that graphics
programs will have on your system. Video applications can have an intense effect on your
electrical needs, due to its usage of computation, calculations and virtual memory.
Memory is an odd little creature. The concept of battery memory is reminiscent of Pavlovian
Conditioning. Do you remember the story about Pavlov and his dogs? Pavlov would serve his dogs
food and when they realized it was dinner time, he would ring a bell. After some time of
conditioning his dogs, all he would have to do to get the dogs to salivate, was to ring the bell.
Battery Memory is a lot like that.
Battery memory is where the battery becomes conditioned
to run for less time than it is designed to run. Say for example, you run your computer on
battery for an hour and then you plug it back in to let it recharge. The battery will become
conditioned to run only an hour before it runs out of juice.
To correct Battery Memory
problems, you must completely drain the battery and recharge it. To completely drain your
battery, you must go into your Windows Control Panel and select Power. Then you must turn Power
Management Off. Next, you must go into your BIOS and make sure that if there is a power
management setting there, that you turn it off as well. In most cases, once you are inside the
BIOS, you will highlight Power Management and press Enter. Then locate the item Hibernation at
Critical Battery, and by using the Minus sign, change the setting to Off. Once these steps have
been completed, then use your Escape key to return to the top level menu, and select Save
Settings and Exit.
Once you have completed turning off the power management in both the
BIOS and the Operating System, you must unplug the computer, turn the computer on and let it run
until it completely runs out of electricity. Then you should charge the battery for 12 hours. At
the end of the charging cycle, then run the computer again until the battery is dead, and then
charge the battery for 12 more hours. You should repeat this process four times, before returning
the computer to its original power management settings.
As far as battery usage goes, it
is recommended that you should use the battery once every two weeks, and keep the battery in the
system so that the AC adapter can keep the battery charged at all times. It is also recommended
that if you don't use the battery for more than two weeks, you should completely discharge the
battery and store it at room temperature.
Bill Platt owns The Phantom Writers, a
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