Wednesday, June 24, 2009

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Ways To Improve Battery Life Of Your Laptop

Priorities shift when you’re not connected to an AC outlet. Suddenly, processor speed and the glitzy Glass interface just aren’t that important when your laptop battery is going to power off in few minutes. 
Now, there are things you can do to reduce your laptop’s thrust for power, but the best power-saving features are the ones that engage automatically when you’re using the battery, but revert to their high-performance settings whenever you plug in.


Windows Vista and now Windows 7 have much to do if you are looking to work more without your laptop connected to power. For this, Start with the Power Options page in Control Panel. There, you’ll find at least three plans: 

  • Balanced (the default), 
  • Power saver, and 
  • High performance. 
It doesn’t really matter which one you choose, because each can be configured any way you like.



Click the Change plan settings link under the currently selected plan. Next, click the Change advanced power settings link to open the Advanced Settings window, and if it’s there, click the Change settings that are currently unavailable link.



The settings here that will have the most bearing on your battery life are: 



Dealing With Hard Disk
Your hard disk is just a mechanical device sot that your hard disk eats up a lot of power. Set the Turn off hard disk after option too low, and you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for Windows to wake up your hard disk; set it too high, and you’re just wasting power. A setting of 10 or 20 minutes is usually a good compromise.



Processor Power Management
We have already discussed that Your processor can run at different speeds; it runs fast when it’s needed, but drops down to a slower speed when your PC is idle. The two settings here let you choose the upper and lower bounds of your processor’s speed. Unlike with your hard disk, you never have to wait for your processor to be woken up, so there’s very little cost in keeping the Minimum processor state setting as low as possible. Also know how to overclock your processor.



It’s worth noting that the Maximum processor state is set to only 50% in the Power saver plan by default; this means that when this plan is active, your CPU will never run faster than about half its rated speed. Of course, this does save power, but as long as the  minimum processor state is set to, say, 5%, you probably won’t need to limit your CPU in this way. Of course, processors vary, so experiment with this setting to see how well yours manages its own power consumption. 



Search And Indexing
As described in one of my earlier post of how to Customize Search Feature In Windows Vista. Windows indexes the files on your PC to make searches faster. Of course, this uses your hard disk heavily, so it’s best to set the Power Savings Mode to Power Saver when you’re running on a battery. [Also know how to Customize Search Feature In Windows Vista.]



Display
Use the Turn off display after setting as a battery-friendly alternative to a ScreenSaver. Since it takes very little time to wake up modern laptop displays, set this to a small value like 5 minutes. Then set Adaptive display to On to have Vista automatically (and temporarily) give you a little more time whenever you seem to be frequently waking up your display. [Also know how to Optimize Display Settings In Windows XP.]



Click OK when you’re done; the changes take effect immediately. To switch between power plans, just click the battery status icon in your notification area (tray) and then click the one you want. Or, press Winkey+ X to show the Windows Mobility Center, where you can also choose the plan you want.



Switch Plans Automatically
Problem is, you have to switch power plans by hand, and who remembers to do that? Wouldn’t it be better to have the plan chosen automatically when you switch between battery and AC power? Vista won’t do this, but the free Vista Battery Saver (available at http://www.codeplex.com/vistabattery, and shown in Figure below) can.



Tired of having to change the power plans every time you switch between AC and battery power? Increase your battery life by letting the Vista Battery Saver do it for you
Vista Battery Saver can also turn off the power-hungry Glass interface when you switch battery power, a convenience that has been known to cause huge gains in battery life. Also available is Aerofoil (free from http://www.silentsoftware.co.uk/), a program that simply switches off Glass when you’re mobile and then turns it back on when you’ve plugged in. 



Switch Plans Automatically Without Any Third-Party Software (Works For Vista Business And Ultimate Editions):
In Vista’s beta-test versions each entry in the Power Options–Advanced Settings window had two settings: one for On battery and the other for Plugged in. Microsoft actually removed these settings from the final version, but if you have the Vista Business or Ultimate edition, you can still use them by opening the Group Policy Object Editor (gpedit.msc), and expanding the branches to Computer Configuration➝ Administrative Templates ➝ System ➝ Power Management. As it turns out, Vista Battery Saver is much easier to use, but if you don’t want to install any third-party software, the Group Policy Object Editor is a workable alternative. 



Disable Devices And Stop Services
Don’t need that ethernet port right now? Not using your DVD drive? Turn  them off and save some more power. 



Open Device Manager, expand the branches to show your “expendable” devices, and then right-click each one and select Properties. Choose the Power Management tab, turn on the Allow the computer to turn off this device to save power option, and click OK. 
Then, assuming the option was available, right-click the device and select Disable (if the option wasn’t available, disabling the device won’t save any power).



Next, open the Services window (services.msc), and stop any unnecessary services (don’t touch the ones you don’t understand). For instance, if you’ve installed Apple’s iTunes on your PC, you’ll see at least two related services here: Apple Mobile Device and iPod Service. If you have no plans to connect an iPod during the next few hours, right-click each service and select Stop to give your PC one less thing to do while you’re running on precious battery power.



Take Your Laptop Off Your Lap:
One of the most significant things you can do to increase battery life is to take your laptop off your lap. Put it on a book, magazine, airline tray table, tennis racket, pasta strainer, or any hard—and preferably ventilated—surface.



If the bottom of your laptop is allowed to breathe, it won’t get so hot, and the fan won’t have to work so hard to keep the processor cool. The harder your fan works—and for that matter, the hotter your CPU gets—the more power is drained from your battery.



If your laptop never seems to get that hot, even when it’s on your lap, you may be able to experiment with some more lenient cooling settings. Using your PC’s BIOS setup page  or, optionally, a fan control program like I8kfanGUI (free , try increasing the allowed temperature of your CPU by a degree or two, and see what happens.



With luck, your fan should come on less often and your battery should last a little longer, all without (hopefully) frying your processor.
Please Note: Though this information is quite common for all laptops that uses windows vista. Few tips in this article was originally available in the book  Windows Vista Annoyances Tips, Secrets, and Solutions -  ISBN-10: 0596527624 ISBN-13: 978-0596527624. If you are interested to know about windows vista, get that book, its worth having if you are into Windows Vista - Buy Now

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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June 25, 2009 at 10:07 PM delete

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