Death, taxes and laptops collapsing just when you need them most. These are the three certainties of life. So how can you improve Windows 10 laptops’ battery life, short of taking a tin opener to its aluminium unibody and sticking in a new battery?
Switch to power saver mode
Windows automatically reduce its power demands once the battery life goes beyond a trigger point (more on that later), but there’s an easy way to take control.
Click the battery icon sitting in the bottom-right of your toolbar and you’ll see a slider from Best battery life to Best performance. Most likely it will be somewhere in between. Slide it to Best battery life and you’ll drop down to the lowest power settings.
Reduce screen brightness plus Flight Mode
If even that sounds too much hassle, simply reducing the brightness of your screen will extend your laptop’s battery life. And if you don’t need Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, you can drag back a few minutes by putting your laptop into Flight Mode. Type “Flight Mode” into the Search box and it will come up as an option.
Turn off the lights
Many modern laptops include backlit keyboards. Trouble is, 98% of the time you don’t need it. Look for the shortcut on your keyboard (often F7 or thereabouts) and press it a couple of times to make sure it’s switched off.
Run the Windows Troubleshooter
Generally, I find the Windows Troubleshooter about as useful as a solar torch, but it might – might – be able to give you some useful tips. If nothing else, running it will provide a prompt to activate more cautious power management settings if you’ve veered from Windows’ righteous path. You have nothing to lose by running it anyway: type Troubleshooter into the search box, and select Power.
Buy a new battery
This is a long shot: replaceable batteries have gone the same way as turkey twizzlers. But if you have a replaceable battery, then this is a surefire way to improve your battery life. Try and buy an official one, though. They’re more expensive than the no-name “compatible” batteries, but my experiences of buying knock-off batteries aren’t good ones.
Delve into the deep stuff
Here’s where we get our fingertips dirty. If you think of the Windows Power Saver mode as a sweeping edict from a maniacal leader, the Power Settings are where you can start the Resistance.
Start by typing “Power options” into the search bar. You’ll see this screen.
Click “Create a power plan” (from the left-hand bar) and name it as you see fit. Follow the prompts until you’re back at the same screen as above, only this time with your own power plan on show.
Click “Change plan settings” and you’ll notice a new option: “Change advanced power settings”. Click it.
You’ll see a forest of menus and sub-menus, but while it looks confusing most of the options are self-explanatory. Hunt around and change what you see fit.
One thing that’s worth noting is the difference between hibernate and sleep…
Hibernate and sleep settings
Sleep is designed to spring your computer back into action: the live “state” of Windows is kept in memory, which needs a (small) active current to keep it alive. Hibernate writes it to disk, so will take a little longer to read when Windows wakes up, but doesn’t consume any electricity.
One of my favourite options is moving away from Windows’ conservative default of 6% to activate hibernation. That’s done for the best of reasons – to give the operating system time to write everything to disk – but 6%, really? Let’s go wild and say 1%. If you do find that hibernate fails all the time, then just adjust it to 2%. Remember, we’re in charge of this revolution.
You probably want to keep the reserve power mode at 4%. This is when Windows flashes an alert to tell you that you should be plugging your computer into a power outlet.
Press Apply and then Save, and you’re done.
Do you have any trusted ways to save battery life? Let us know in the comments below.
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