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Tips that can stretch your laptop's battery life

As a Network Administrator of a large company I frequently hear complaints from traveling sales people or company staff that have been assigned a laptop that their battery doesnít last as long as it use to. Here are a few tips to help increase the battery life of a laptop battery.

The simple fact is, batteries do lose their longevity after time, (according to electronic super stores your battery will die after a year if you donít purchase an extended warranty) but I'd say that after a year, your battery should be in pretty good shape.

The first sign or complaint is that you canít get through a 2-hour DVD movie.

Watching a movie is a big drain on your battery, but you should be able to stretch your viewing time. Before your trip, be sure your battery is fully charged.

Rechargeable batteries will give you their longest charge when you've fully discharged and recharged them several times in a row. It may be a pain, but a day or so before your trip, let your laptop run until the system shuts down. Then recharge it and, if you have time, discharge and recharge it a second time, preferably overnight.

This is easier to do at home before a trip, but remember to do it at the hotel before your return flight as well.

Once your battery is full, tweak your laptop's settings to maximize battery life.

Start with your monitor, which is the biggest battery hog. Find the brightness adjustment for your screen and turn it down by at least half. Dimming the screen could buy you almost an hour more power. The battery life on my Apple laptop increased by 45 minutes when I turned my brightness down.

Windows XP and Macintosh OS X both have accurate battery-monitoring software. Each operating system can display how many minutes of remaining battery life you have. Do some experimenting with the screen settings and watch how your battery life increases.

Other tips to save power include turning off wireless networking, removing PC cards and not using floppy or CD drives.

The Energy Saver control panel on your Mac and the Power control panel in Windows XP allow you to configure your system to power down the screen and hard drive after a period of inactivity.

If you fly frequently, you might find which planes have power. Check with your airline's Web site for information on which of its planes have power outlets and where they are located on board. You will need a special power adapter for airplanes that is available at most computer stores.

Also, look for power outlets during airport layovers. In the gate area of the airport, sit near walls and columns to take advantage of plugs. That two-hour layover can be enough to recharge your battery.

Finally, the best advice I can give is to buy a second battery for your laptop. Paying $75 or $125 for another battery will instantly double your movie enjoyment.

source for this article came from desktop support manager Jim Rossman



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