Extending laptop battery life

I am currently on a plane going from Toronto to Vancouver. It’s about a 4.5 hour flight. I wanted to bring my laptop so I could write a batch of articles for Lockergnome.

I was experimenting around with my new laptop to see how I could try to “tweak” my computer to extend the battery life. Note that I’m using a Toshiba A70-TS1 laptop, so the life that I got may very well vary depending on the laptop. I recommend the following, as they seem to be able to conserve a lot of power:

  1. Lower the brightness on your LCD monitor. The directions to do so vary depending on which graphics card you have.
  2. Tweak your power settings so that the LCD will turn off after a very brief period of inactivity. The LCD consumes the most power out of all the parts in your computer. If your power settings allow it, lower your processor speed. My processor is a Pentium 4, 3.06 GHz. I am only typing right now, so there is no point in having the processor run full speed. However, if you are on a Centrino/Pentium M computer, you do not need to alter the processor speed, as it changes automatically. Additionally, I recommend setting your hard drive so that it turns off after a period of inactivity. As an example, when I’m typing articles, having the hard drive consistantly running is a total waste. The hard drive spins, wasting valuable power.
  3. Disable programs. Many programs may be running in the background, wasting power from the CPU and hard drive.
  4. Ensure you disable your wireless network, unless of course you need it running at the time. Wireless cards are constantly checking for access points to connect to, and therefore waste power.
  5. If you are planning to use your computer’s speakers in any way, skip this step. I think that muting your computer speakers tends to help. When they’re not muted, there is constantly an unnoticeable hiss in the background, and that wastes power.
  6. Before leaving my house, I set the computer the way I wanted it for the flight, and put it in hibernate mode. If you are going to the airport, then airport security may request that you turn on your computer for a moment. If you do not hibernate, it may be slower to turn on, wasting both the security’s time, and your laptop battery.

Once you have completed the above steps, you are good to go! If you have anything to add to that, or comments on this article, please feel free to e-mail me.

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