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Tips for Better Batteries

Rechargeable batteries in laptops, phones and tablets need to be used regularly to maintain their health: the worst thing that can happen to a rechargeable battery is for it to be left in a fully-discharged state for any length of time. Eventually it will stick there and never charge up again, so make sure it is always at least partially charged.

The second worst thing is keeping it at 100% charge, as will happen if you keep your laptop permanently plugged into the mains. Eventually the battery will lose its ability to charge. A laptop must be regularly used on battery power to keep it in good condition, so do this for a couple of hours twice a week for optimum health and performance.

Modern rechargeable batteries are like muscles; they need regular exercise to keep them healthy and working well.

Store your battery for an extended break

If you are planning to leave your laptop untouched for a period, it's worth preparing its battery so you can store it in the best possible state. Avoid leaving the battery either fully-charged or fully-discharged because both states are bad for it. Either run the laptop or tablet down to 50% or charge it up to 50% if it's already lower, then shut it down. To properly power off a tablet, hold down the power button until the power off option appears on the screen. The battery will last several weeks in this state.

Recalibrate an inaccurate battery

If the battery-level indicator in Windows' notification area develops a fault, it can misread the battery level and shut down your laptop at 20% instead of 5%. Some laptops can automatically recalibrate the indicator, which solves the problem. To do this, charge the laptop up to 100%, then run it on the battery until it shuts down.

Leave it for several hours, then charge it up to 100% again. It's not necessary to completely discharge the battery if there is no fault.

Make the most of speed charging

Batteries charge very quickly at first, then slow down as they approach 100%. If you are in a rush to go out, don't bother waiting for your device to charge fully because the last 20% or so will take ages. If the battery is charged to over 80%, just unplug it and go. When the battery is low, 20 minutes of charging can get it up to 50%.

Battery Myths Discharged

"You need to run the battery down to 0%":
This isn't true and it's not good for your battery. Recharge it when it falls below 20%.

"You need to charge the battery to 100% every time":
You don't and it is perfectly adequate to charge it up to 80%.

"Using another charger will damage the battery":
It won't, but cheap third-party chargers are sometimes low-powered, which means the phone, tablet or laptop takes much longer to charge.

"Leaving the phone, tablet or laptop plugged in overnight will damage it":
It won't because chargers are smart enough to switch off when the battery reaches 100%.

Turn off background tools

Many apps on phones and tablets run in the background, consuming battery power. The more apps you have, the faster the battery drains. A battery booster itself or task-killer app can shut down these apps but they aren't without drawbacks because some apps automatically restart if they are shut down and the battery booster is yet another app that runs in the background, drawing its own power.

Senior vice president of Apple, recently commented that apps open in the background on Apple devices don't use any battery power, but apps that use tools such as push notifications will still create some drain, whether or not they are open in the background.

The best way of ensuring minimal battery drain is to uninstall any apps you don't use. Uninstall Facebook and Twitter, and access their websites in Chrome or Safari instead, creating a bookmark for quick access. The mobile websites are almost as good as the apps and will save battery life.

Disabling location services will also prolong your battery life. On Android, go to Settings, Location, or 'Privacy and Safety', Location. Turn on Location only when you need it, such as when using maps and navigation.

Know your cycles and capacities

A battery is designed to be charged up a certain number of times and typical values are 300, 500 and 1,000. Charging from 0% to 100% is called a cycle and a battery designed to last 1,000 cycles will last more than three times as long as one designed for 300 cycles. When buying a laptop, phone or tablet, check how many cycles the battery will last.

It doesn't matter how often a battery is charged. If you drain it by 50% on Monday and charge it up 20% on Tuesday and 30% on Wednesday, that counts as one cycle of 100%. If a battery is designed to last 500 charge cycles, it won't stop charging at 501. Over a lifetime, batteries slowly lose the capacity to charge. At around the cycle design limit, the battery will be significantly poorer than when it was new but it should still work.

The design capacity for a battery is the charge it's designed to hold when brand new. A battery tool will show the maximum capacity the battery can currently hold and how healthy or degraded the battery is. Compare the two figures and if the maximum or full charge is much less than the design charge, it means the battery is worn out.

More advanced Tips:
Create a detailed battery report...

Windows can produce a detailed and comprehensive report on the state of the battery and its recent usage, which is useful for monitoring its health. Press Windows+R, type cmd, then press Enter. At the command prompt, type powercgf /batteryreport and press Enter. Go to the C:\Users\YourName folder and double-click battery-report.html. It opens in a browser and contains a lot of interesting information.

And a full energy report

There's a more advanced report available but it's quite technical. Click the Start menu, search for 'command prompt' and, when it appears, right-click it and select 'Run as administrator'. Type powercfg -energy and use your computer normally for one minute. Afterwards, go to C:\Windows\System32 and drag energy-report.html to the Desktop. Double-click to read it. The report is useful for identifying power problems, including battery issues.

Check your manufacturer's tools

Laptop manufacturers often bundle a collection of tools with their devices and these may include tools to show the battery status and other information. With HP, for example, run the HP Support Assistant, click 'Battery and Performance', then click Battery Check. This results in a brief report stating whether the battery is functioning well or not, but if you click the Advanced button, you get a more detailed report which reveals the battery age, cycle count, temperature, design, full charge and remaining capacities. These figures provide an indication of the battery's health and how much longer it's likely to last.

Use the laptop manufacturer's tools to show your battery's status.

Try other battery tools

Not every laptop comes with its own battery tools. If yours doesn't, there are a couple of alternatives you can try. BatteryInfoView (search for it at www.nirsoft.net) is a free tool that displays a wealth of information including the battery design and fully charged capacities, the percentage of wear, current capacity and more. The information it displays will depend on the type of laptop you own.

BatteryCare (batterycare.net) adds an icon to the notification area, hidden in the pop-up tray. Hover your ouse over it to display the battery time remaining and percentage charge. Click it for quick access to Windows power plans, to easily change from High Performance to Power Save, for example. Right-click it and select Show to open the program window and see more battery info.

More: Windows 10 Tutorials