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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Computer Maintenance: How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?




Computer Maintenance: How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?

Image: A Laptop and Its Battery

The health of all batteries decreases over time with repeated charging and use, but this does not happen at the same speed. If you are given the same brand-new laptop on the exact day as someone else, the battery life of both laptops could highly vary after two years many factors come to play to support this, such as type of usage, frequency, and level of maintenance. 

There are several healthy laptop practices that you can use to extend the amount of time you spend with your laptop. Besides avoiding physical damage and keeping it from dust that blocks air vents, laptop users can leverage many factors to extend battery life. Creating some minor changes in how you use your laptop could go a long way in preventing you from charging your device too often. We can finish our projects, stream movies, listen to music, and more with a healthy laptop battery. In this article, you will find tips on how to check and maintain your battery health. 

Giving your laptop battery a little more attention can be a small step to achieving significant battery dividends. Like many devices, it isn't easy to find a solution that fits all laptops because of their unique differences. Every laptop owner needs to find out as much as they can about their device after purchasing it. 

How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?

All computer components have a lifespan, and among these components is the battery. The majority of laptop users want to make sure that they experience their money's worth before replacing it. Sadly, even with the utmost care, your device with eventually deteriorate. One of the easiest ways to make sure you are on the right track is following our laptop battery maintenance tips, including those that came with your device's manual. 

Keeping your battery in good health is not tedious, and a little effort will push its lifespan. There are several easy ways to take care of your laptop battery:

  • Keep it in a cool environment
  • Avoid the zero mark
  • Reduce brightness, and use battery saver mode
  • Prevent overheating if left plugged in
  • Maintain a 40%-80% battery level
  • Replace the battery

Tips to Make Your Laptop Battery Last Longer

1. Keep it Somewhere Cool

It is not a good idea to place a laptop on your lap. Laptops are compact and do not have big cooling fans. Therefore, they can get quite hot. This can result in ‘toasted skin syndrome' or gradual skin burns if you place it on your lap. If you place a pillow on your lap and skin burns are not a threat, the heat created by trapped heat and blocked vents will destroy your laptop battery. Extreme heat leads to chemical changes in your battery and physical expansion. If they are exposed to too much heat over time, they will not last long. 

Keep the lid open a bit longer when your laptop is running hot and you decide to switch it off. Make sure also to keep it off pillows or cushioned areas. Locate the vents of your computer and avoid blocking them. Keep your laptop somewhere cool, away from heating vents and direct sunlight if you are not using it. 

2. Maintain a Charge of Between 40 and 80 Percent

If you are the type of user who likes staying away from the charger, try maintaining a charge of 40%. When you want to top off your computer, charge it to about 80%. Apart from being the best habit, extending your laptop's charge capacity and longevity is recommended. Sadly, this is the most challenging advice to follow. 

If you are a road warrior, the type that suffers from charge anxiety or the overscheduled, this may not be so practical for you. If you are usually equipped with a charger and don't face any problems with battery life, these are the recommended limits to observe. According to research conducted by Battery University, a battery that has been charged to its extremes (empty to full) can only last 300 to 500 times before it becomes obsolete. This margin increases to 850 to 1500 cycles when a laptop battery is charged to 80%. 

Luckily, this plugged-in problem has been solved by some laptops. A good example is the Lenovo Vantage app, which Thinkpad laptops can set a threshold for maximum battery charge. Some Sony and Samsung laptops have this capability as well. 

3. Avoid the Zero Mark

Keep your battery charged between 40% and 80%; it is a tragedy when it gets to zero. Many of us have the habit of letting our batteries get to zero before we decide to charge them. This habit is bad for your battery. Keeping your battery charged between 40 and 80% not only extends your battery life but also puts less strain on the battery to maintain its charging capacity. 

The only time you're recommended to recharge a battery fully is when installing a new one. This is usually for the sake of the laptop itself, not the battery. In lithium-ion batteries, no ‘memory' exists that needs to be reset compared to previous nickel-cadmium batteries. You are advised to drain your laptop battery entirely for the battery gauge to be calibrated. To the longevity of a battery, this is a minimal hit. However, your device will get a better estimate of the remaining battery life. This will also prevent false readings and unexpected shutdowns. 

4. Prevent Overheating if Left Plugged In

Contrary to popular belief, if you keep your laptop plugged in while it is 100% full, it will not cause damage to your battery. Modern laptops have been created so that, once the 100% mark is reached, charging stops, and power is sent to the system instead. There is an exception, however. Intensive work such as rendering, compiling, or using your device in a hot environment can make your device run hot. A battery at maximum capacity combined with severe heat exposure is likely to get damaged and lose life. 

5. Replace Your Battery

When your battery's health capacity gets below 80%, make sure to replace it. This is the recommended threshold. Unfortunately, despite following all the proper methods to keep your battery in good health, it will eventually become obsolete. The internal resistance builds up to a significant degree once the health capacity drops below 80%. As a result, charging will take longer than usual compared to when the battery's capacity was total. When the charge percentage and the time remaining seem to get less reliable, this may be a sign that your battery has begun the journey downhill. The returns only keep diminishing. 

On most laptops, a battery is one of the easiest things to replace. This point still applies in modern-day ultrabooks that have no push-to-release lever to remove the battery. If you come equipped with the right set of screwdrivers and the fitting instructions, you will manage to pull it off successfully. 

6. Battery Saver Mode and Brightness

When you check the windows taskbar, you will see the battery level of your laptop. To activate any power-saving features, click on the battery level indicator and turn them on. You might experience a noticeable performance loss if you edit videos or photos, gaming, or use high battery power. Otherwise, you will not notice any significant difference. 

Most of the time, when using a laptop, you do not need a super bright screen. To save up on your laptop's battery power, consider lowering the brightness levels of your screen; the display drains most devices. You can also change your display settings to dim the screen after a set time of not being used. You can do this by going to Windows Settings and changing the values of ‘Power and Sleep.' However, some of these settings may be active in power saver mode. 

Computer Maintenance: How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?

Image: The Power & Sleep Setting Tab in Windows

How To Check Your Laptop Battery Health

1. In Windows

Click on the ‘Start menu and search for ‘PowerShell.' Once you see the result from the options, click on it. In the window that appears, type in ‘powercfg/battery report' and hit ‘Enter.' After that, Windows will generate a report that will be accessible to you via your user folder. You can find this at C:\Users\[YourUsername]. To view the contents, double-click it. It is an HTML file. 

Computer Maintenance: How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?

Image: A Screenshot of Windows Powershell

To view your current battery capacity history, scroll down to the bottom and check out the ‘Battery Capacity History' section. On the right and left in megawatts, you can see the initial capacity of that battery and the total charge capacity in that order. The battery's original strength is the design capacity, and the performance you are currently experiencing is the total charge capacity. The battery life you receive reduces as the total charge capacity reduces. If you notice the full charge capacity is much lower than the design capacity, it is time to get a new battery. 

If you scroll down to the bottom of the document, Windows will have an estimate of what your battery life will look like in a couple of hours. Nonetheless, this depends on many factors like playing heavy-duty games, watching videos, or browsing the Internet. So do not take this figure as gospel. If your battery keeps dropping to zero very fast, restore its longevity by buying a replacement. 

2. In Mac

From the upper left corner of the screen, click on the ‘Apple' logo followed by ‘About This Mac.' Make sure to remember the Macbook model. Click on the ‘System Report' button, and from the left sidebar, scroll down to ‘Power.' You will see ‘Health Information' under the ‘Battery Information' section. If your device is under normal conditions, you are on the safe side. Nonetheless, if the battery has degraded significantly, ‘Replace Soon' will be written under ‘Condition.' 

For more detailed information, you can compare the cycle count of your laptop to the maximum cycles of your MacBook model. Try and compare the original size of the battery to the total charge capacity. To get a more straightforward breakdown of this information in a simpler layout, download an app such as coconutBattery that makes it easier to read. Consider getting a replacement if your MacBook battery can't hold a charge as much as it used to. 

What Are the Telltale Signs of a Bad Laptop Battery?

1. Charging Issues

If your laptop battery is not charging when plugged in, it could signify that your battery needs replacing. However, if you own a UPS (Unlimited Power Supply) or surge protector, you should inspect them first to eliminate their possibility of being the root of the problem.

2. Overheating

A little bit of battery heat increase is standard when your device is running. This is so because heat sinks as fans dispel it. If it starts running hotter, it might be a sign that your battery needs replacing.

3. Shutdowns and Short Runs

A fully charged laptop battery typically serves for around six hours before it gets depleted. Your laptop battery's ability to survive between charges is greatly affected by screen brightness, the number of open programs, and playing audio/video. These can shave off some time from your battery's standard performance time. Nevertheless, If you find that you have to go back to your charger often or can't leave it altogether because your computer doesn't hold a charge for long, you might need a new battery.

4. Replacement Warning

Computer operating systems for both Windows and Mac indicate when the battery's capacity becomes critically low. Starting from Windows 7, you will receive a warning about battery replacement when your battery's capacity becomes very low. The battery icon may show a red “X.” Clicking the battery icon for more information will likely prompt a message saying “plugged in, not charging.”

In Mac, you can view this by going to the top menu bar and clicking the battery icon. The battery's current status will be shown in detail, including estimated remaining charge and power-hungry apps. If your battery is faulty or has expended its lifespan, you will see either the following messages: replace now, replace soon, or service battery. 

Computer Maintenance: How Do I Keep My Laptop Battery in Good Health?

Image: A Healthy, Fully Charged, Laptop Battery Status

Conclusion

By following a couple of healthy practices, you have a high chance of spending more time with your existing battery. Tweaking a couple of things about using your device can prevent you from reaching for the charger too often. A healthy laptop battery will help you take care of your tasks without failure. A few methods you can use to keep a healthy laptop battery include avoiding complete discharging, keeping it in an unheated environment, maintaining a 40-80% charge range, and employing battery saver features. But, the health of all batteries decreases over time. 

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