General Computer Maintenance: Power Management

One of the biggest headaches of using a laptop is how frequently you have to plug it in to charge it. Here are some helpful tips for getting the most out of your battery between trips to the wall outlet.

Note: While these tips are mostly geared towards laptop users, some can also be applied to desktop users that want to be more green and consume less power.


Power Management Tips:

  • Turn Off Wireless
      • All Apple laptops have AirPort and Bluetooth icons in the menu bar (up near the clock). When you click on these icon you will see an option to Turn AirPort Off or Turn Bluetooth Off.

     

    • All Dell laptops have a slider switch on either the left or right side of the laptop. When you aren’t using the wireless (or Bluetooth), you can slide this switch into the off position.
  • Decrease Screen Brightness
    • All Apple laptops have keys on the keyboard for decreasing and increasing screen brightness; they are the F1 and F2 keys respectively.
    • All Dell laptops have keyboard keys for decreasing and increasing screen brightness as well; they are the key combinations of fn+down arrow and fn+up arrow respectively.
    • Decreasing your screen brightness as low as is still comfortable to work is probably the single most significant thing you can do to extend battery life.
  • Eject CD/DVD
    • Most operating systems will regularly read any disk that is in the disk drive of a computer just to make sure it knows what is in there. Since the act of reading the disk uses power it is a good idea to eject the disk while it is not in use.
  • Shut Down Instead of Sleep
    • While it might be convenient to just shut the lid of your laptop to force it to go to sleep, this isn’t always a good idea as it still draws power from the battery. If you are going to move your laptop a short distance (say from your office to a classroom and back again) sleep is still a good option, but if you are going to move your laptop a longer distance (say from your office to your house, or on a business trip) it is a better idea to shut it down first and then power it on when you reach your destination.