There is nothing worse than watching that little battery icon on your laptop slip into the red zone. It's almost like the life is draining out of you as fast as it's draining out of your machine.
Of course, you can game the system a bit by keeping an extra battery fueled up and in your laptop bag, but here are 5 ways to conserve laptop battery power:
1. Don't double dip. Even the most basic of your laptop's processes tax the battery, so adding your phone or tablet to the mix saps the power even faster. Unless it's absolutely necessary, don't charge other devices or use external hard drives and USB plug-ins during battery-only time, and wait to upload those photos or listen to music.
2. Improve efficiency. Certain settings can bleed laptop batteries dry. To optimize power settings and keep operations running smoothly:
- Disable Bluetooth¨ and Wi-Fi, which use power in their constant search for connections
- Dim your screen
- Disable Flash and your screensaver if you don't need them
- Close unused programs instead of running them in the background
3. Keep it cool. Heat is your battery's natural enemy, yet running games and videos or processing huge files can really raise your machine's temperature. Always use your laptop on a hard surface, where it gets better ventilation than when sinking into a sofa or your lap. You can decrease the heat with a fan or cooling kit, or use a bakery cooling rack for a nifty hack. If your model has visible vents, keep them dust free with an occasional blast from a can of compressed air.
4. Add more RAM. Bumping up your laptop's memory is an inexpensive fix that helps your hard drive and saves battery power. The reason? When your machine runs out of RAM, it uses virtual memory instead of the hard drive to run applications — which takes a toll on battery life.
5. Consider a power management program. Programs like Battery Optimizer [DS1] use diagnostic tools to calculate how much power you'll save by turning off unnecessary features. They automate your settings for you and even give you real-time graphics showing how much power you have left and how many more battery recharges are in your future.
Follow this advice for conserving laptop battery life and you'll never find yourself stuck by that airport restroom electrical outlet or circling the coffee shop for an open jack again.