Wednesday, October 26, 2016

4 Quick Ways to Save a Device's Battery Life

When using a laptop, ultra book, or tablet, there are times when battery utilization is critical. Forgetting the power adapter, not having an available outlet, or simply wanting to use the device for a short period of time without dragging chargers requires being smart about usage if you want the device to last. There are multiple ways to save battery life and this post covers four quick and easy ways to save a device's battery life.

4 Quick Ways to Save a Device's Battery Life

Reduce the brightness
One of the largest power draws on a device is the display. The bigger the display, the more battery required to light it. The higher the brightness setting the more a battery is utilized. In highly lit areas it can be difficult to see certain screens without turning up the brightness. However, turning the brightness lower than preferred while still being comfortable enough to see, will save battery life.

Most devices have hotkeys for increasing and decreasing a screen's brightness while on tablets this can be accessed using shortcut menus or settings.

Turn off wifi / enter airplane mode
When you are working on documents, editing images, creating spreadsheets and other non-Internet related items, turning off the wifi and/or entering airplane mode greatly reduces a device's battery usage. WiFi is the method for connecting to a network, either at home or work to access the Internet or shared files and resources. Airplane mode turns off wifi as well as bluetooth and cellular connections depending upon the device.

WiFi uses a great deal of battery life for many reasons. When you are on the Internet, data is being downloaded and each webpage requested is sending data back out. Even when you are not actively using the Internet, if wifi is enabled and the device is connected to a network, programs like the following run in the background and are often downloading data:

  • Print devices
  • Adobe software
  • Anti-virus / anti-malware applications
  • Windows Updates
  • File sync and share applications
  • Microsoft Office Updates
  • Java
  • iTunes
  • Software updates by the device manufacturer
  • Other various 3rd party applications

Temporarily disabling a device's wifi keeps these types of applications from unintentionally eating up battery life in the background. This allows you to accomplish what is necessary without prematurely running out of battery life. Once wifi is re-enabled, all applications will run normally. Most devices have shortcuts for disabling and enabling wifi while airplane mode is normally located under network connections or shortcut menus.

Pause anti-virus & anti-malware scans
Anti-virus and anti-malware scans check local files verifying the integrity of each file remains intact. To be successful, these scans run through every file on the device regularly. This process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to hours depending upon the device hardware, usage when the scan is running and number of files being scanned.

Regardless of how long the scan takes, it uses vital resources and battery life while actively running. Disabling the daily anti-virus scan or pausing it after it begins saves battery life. Scans can be restarted later or will simply run again at its next regularly scheduled time. Most anti-virus and anti-malware software have icons in the taskbar providing quick access to the scan schedule and active jobs can be paused once they begin.

Change the power settings
Last but not least is changing the device's default power settings. This process can be a bit more involved, but also reduces power consumption and saves battery life. Change power settings if you often find you need more battery life, as well as if you are frequently interrupted when working on the device or find the battery is being wasted when the device is not actively being used.

To access the power settings of a Windows device open the Control Panel and select "Power options".  The quickest way to change to a lower power mode is to simply select the "Power Saver" radio button. 

Additionally, you can click on the link to "Change plan settings" to customize the time a device is inactive before the display is turned off and/or when the device automatically enters sleep mode. Lowering the delay time for these options greatly reduces battery consumption.

Whatever the reason for wanting a device's battery to last longer, implementing these four items greatly reduces the power consumption of a device and therefore increases the length of time the battery lasts on a single charge. There are times when power outlets are unavailable or convenient, or when using the device for such a short period of time makes it seem silly to drag a charger along. For these times it often makes more sense to reduce the power consumption and rely upon the battery.

As always, knowing how to get the most out of existing devices is key!

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