Laptops

Can you replace a laptop battery?

laptop
Power up: you may be able to replace a laptop battery

Fifteen years ago, this wouldn’t have been a problem. Almost every laptop battery could be removed and replaced simply by moving a couple of sliders or undoing a few screws.

Then Mr Steve Jobs pulled a MacBook Air out of a slim brown envelope at an Apple presentation, and ever since the obsession has been with creating wafer-thin sealed units that are impossible for mere mortals to remove the battery from. Laptops do still come with removable batteries, but these are very much in the descendancy, not least because it gives you another reason to buy a new laptop two or three years down the road.

This article is an extract from Help! My Computer Is Broken. Click here to find out more and order a copy.

It should be fairly easy to tell if you have a removable battery. Looks for clips or a removable section on the base of your laptop. If it’s not marked as a removable battery, we strongly suggest you don’t take a screwdriver to your laptop and attempt to investigate yourself, unless you’re sure of what you’re doing. It’s very easy to dislodge something from the motherboard and leave yourself with an expensive doorstop.

If you do have a sealed unit, that doesn’t mean a battery replacement is out of the question – but we would recommend you take it to a professional repair shop to have it replaced rather than attempting to do so yourself.

Before you do that, however, get Windows to run a battery report to find out just what kind of state your battery is in.

To do this, you need to open something called the Command Prompt in Windows administrator mode. In Windows 10, type ‘cmd’ into the Windows search menu, right-click on the Command Prompt option that should appear in the search results and choose Run as Administrator. Click Yes on the next screen.

A black window should now appear. In that window type the command:

powercfg /batteryreport

(Note the space between the g and /)

Hit enter and Windows should state that a report is saved on a file path that reads something like C:\WINDOWS\system32\battery-report.html. Copy that entire file path and paste into your web browser’s address bar and you can read an incredibly detailed breakdown of your battery’s health. It’s a godsend for insomniacs.

The key stats to look for are the design capacity and the full charge capacity. If your full charge capacity is only half of the design capacity, it means your laptop’s battery life is – at best – half of what it was when the laptop was brand new. Anything less than half signals it’s time to consider a replacement battery.

If your laptop battery is draining even when plugged in, read this article.

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About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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