Extend Your Laptop Battery Time
Joe Lear Associate Director/Systems Administrator
Weíve had a few questions on how long the batteries should last on the
new laptops. The not so simple answer is, "it depends." What you do
with the laptop while itís on batteries will determine how long youíll
be able to run without finding an outlet. Here are a few tips to extend
your time on battery.
First donít attach any USB devices such as flash drives or mice. These
use power from the computer and drive down the time youíll be able to
run on batteries. Copy files to the computer to work on them and use
the built in touch pad as much as possible.
The same can be said for the CD\DVD drive. Donít use it while on
battery and youíll be able to work a lot longer. Copy files to the hard
drive from CD while plugged in, then work on the files from your hard
If you do not need to access the Internet while on batteries, you can,
extend battery life by turning off the wireless card in the laptop. On
the new laptops, (D830, D630, D820 and D620) there is a switch on the
left side of the computer. Pushing this switch to the back of the
computer turns off the wireless card. Just be sure, when you want to
connect to the Internet again, that you pull the switch forward to
reactivate the wireless. On the older laptops (D600, D800, D610, and
D810), you can turn the Wireless card on or off by holding down the Fn
key and pressing F2.
You can also dim your screen. Hold down the Fn key on the laptop
keyboard and press the key that has the icon of a sun and a down arrow.
This is usually the down arrow key. Holding down the Fn and pressing
the up arrow will brighten the screen (should have an icon of a sun with
an up arrow).
You should use your laptop battery on a regular basis. Use your laptop
on the battery once every week or two. You should run the battery until
itís fairly low, but thereís no need to completely discharge the newer
Lithium-ion batteries (The Dell laptops all use lithium-ion batteries).
Older laptops that use a NiCd (nickel-cadmium) or NimH (nickel-metal
hydride) require that you completely discharge and recharge the battery
on a regular basis.
Make sure the vents on the laptop are clean and free of dust. Keeping
the laptop cool will also help to extend battery life. Try to operate
on hard surfaces as much as possible and avoid using the computer on
your lap, pillows, or other soft surfaces which might interfere with
Donít multitask while working on batteries, the more programs you have
running at one time, the less time youíll have to work on battery. Do
one thing at a time and that way youíll get some of the things you want
to do completely done instead of having several things partially done if
you run out of power.
If you are running Windows Vista and really need to save power, you can
switch to the power saver option by clicking on the battery in the
system tray and clicking the dot next to power saver. This will dim the
screen and reduce processor power to help reduce power usage. Be sure
to change this back to balanced (where we have the laptops set by
default) or high performance when you are plugged in.
When you are plugged in make sure you defrag you hard drive. There is a
defragmenter icon on the quick launch section of your task bar or you
can access it by clicking the Start Button, Going to All Programs,
Accessories, and System Tools. Keeping the disk defragmented speeds up
file access reducing disk usage and saves power.
By following a few of these tips you can extend the time you spend on
battery power when you need to get things done and thereís no outlet