TechSpot

Looking for "techie" ways to extend battery life

By Mugsy
May 6, 2013
Post New Reply
  1. Hey everyone,

    I have an old laptop with a battery that lasts about 3.5h in "Power Saving" mode. I'm going to be stuck next week for about 7 hours at a location with few available public outlets and need to stretch my battery life as much as possible.

    I've already done the obvious generic tips of "defragging the hard drive", "dimming the screen", "using few/no external devices", "tweaking my power usage settings", etc, but it's not enough.

    I'm looking for some good "techie" solutions now like "underclocking the CPU" or "removing the CD drive". All suggestions are appreciated. I'd love to try to squeeze another 2 hours out of this battery if possible (no, I don't have another battery and don't need to buy one just for this one event.)

    Thx.

    (PS: Another idea: Removing HDD and booting from USB Flash drive?)
     
  2. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,057   +918

    Removing the HDD and booting from a flash drive is probably the worst decision you can make. Flash drives have very slow speeds (even though they are flash memory, they arent fast) and very little capacity. Keep the HDD.

    There are only a few more ways to improve battery life other than dimming your screen and adjusting the power usage settings. Under-clocking the CPU is really done by the "power saving" mode.

    Try these suggestions:
    1) Run this tool: http://support.microsoft.com/mats/windows_battery_power_settings
    2) Turn of your network adapter. There is usually a switch on the side of the PC that toggles the network adapter on and off. That will save you a ton of power. Also make sure bluetooth is off. I dont think your older PC will have it, but just make sure.
    3) Use this tool to remove any unnecessary processes from start up. This will speed up your computer while also reducing the amount of processes that run (thus reducing CPU and RAM usage).

    I can suggest other options, I just need your OS. If it is Windows 7, it is easy too, if it is XP, I cant really help there since I forgot the OS.
     
  3. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 3,475   +624

    Boot into safe mode.
     
  4. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,057   +918

    Does that have that much of an effect? Safe mode is quite limited, I wouldnt recommend that.
     
  5. St1ckM4n

    St1ckM4n TS Evangelist Posts: 3,475   +624

    Well, safe mode boots only the essential processes, even disabling LAN/wifi. Booting normally, THEN disabling processes could be counter-productive due to the time wasted and the possibility of the process automatically restarting, causing even more battery drain.

    Also for the sake of saving battery life, a USB thumb drive and removing HDD will actually increase the battery life. Probably not by much, but it will. (Though I do agree with your comments regarding performance, of course!)

    And if you run a portable Linux distro off this USB, even better. :)
     
    JC713 likes this.
  6. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,057   +918

    Yeah running Linux off of a flash drive is a great option. Linux is quite lightweight.
     
  7. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 432

    Thanks for the reply.

    "Battery life" is more important to me on this particular occasion than "speed" or "capacity", but upon further research, I'm finding that the HDD is not a major source of power drain on a laptop (which is why SSD's don't significantly extend battery life.) So I'll probably just leave the HDD in.
    Thanks for the link. I've already disabled every unnecessary Startup program and Background Task using MSConfig.

    I need to be online, but there's no Wi-Fi, so I'll be dependent upon a USB Cellular Modem for my connection. Not sure if disabling my Network Adapter would affect that. No external network switch or Bluetooth on my old laptop.
    It's an old WinXP notebook. I rarely use it only on odd occasions like this.
     
  8. Mugsy

    Mugsy TS Maniac Topic Starter Posts: 432

    That was my first choice too. Unfortunately, the cellular modem I'll be using only works with Windows & Mac (I searched in vain for a Linux driver. No go.)
     
  9. JC713

    JC713 TS Evangelist Posts: 7,057   +918

    The network adapter will have to stay on then. Too bad since that drains battery like no other :(.
     
  10. teribithia

    teribithia TS Rookie

    The most most simple way is just buy a replacement battery :).
     


Add New Comment

TechSpot Members
Login or sign up for free,
it takes about 30 seconds.
You may also...


Get complete access to the TechSpot community. Join thousands of technology enthusiasts that contribute and share knowledge in our forum. Get a private inbox, upload your own photo gallery and more.