Getting the Most Out of Your Battery on a Portable PC

Whether you are on a laptop PC, or a Netbook, getting the most out of your battery life is necessary.  The last thing you want is your PC shutting down after a short time of use because of some setting or device that was taking all the power. Windows 7 has an easy way to manage power settings, and I have noticed a bunch of people who really don’t know that you can customize power options to help improve battery life.

Lets take a quick look.

Windows has a set of pre-configured power profiles available, which for most purposes will suffice.  However, you can customize them to suit your needs.  You can access the Power Option in the Control Panel under Hardware and Sound.

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Clicking the Power Options will take you to the screen where you can change the power plans, or click Customize to adjust the settings to create your own plan.  You can also create your very own Power Plan from the menu as well.

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One of the biggest drains of power on a portable PC is going to be the display.  Running a screen a full brightness is an express way to get your battery emptied fast.  The Balanced power plan has a good configuration for this, but I often adjust it just to get the absolute best performance.

Clicking the “change plan settings” or the links on the menu on the left side, you will now have several options to change regarding brightness, display time, and dimness. 

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As you can see in the screenshot, the display is set to dim after 2 minutes on battery, and 5 minutes when plugged in.  It’s also set to turn off the display after 5 minutes, and to put the entire PC to sleep after 15 minutes.  All this will help improve your battery life, especially if you are one of those people who get up and leave their PC on while off to do other things. 

One other setting here is the screen brightness which we mentioned before.  As the other settings, you can set the display brightness for when your PC is on battery power, or plugged in.  I generally make the brightness about halfway when on battery, but this will also depend on your lighting conditions where you are using your laptop or netbook.

There are also more advanced settings, but we will go into those in another article as I’m focusing this on newer users.  The best thing I can recommend is playing around with the settings and coming up with a plan that gives you the best battery performance, without sacrificing too much comfort of use.

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