How to keep your laptop battery healthy and extend its life

It is important to take proper care of your laptop battery to ensure that your mobile machine can last as long as possible. Although battery technology has evolved in the background, making the “best practices” of a few years ago obsolete, there are still a number of ways you can increase (or decrease) the health of your laptop’s battery. We’ve compiled our top tips for how to care for your laptop’s battery, from how long you should leave it plugged in to how long you should let it drain.

Unlike many desktop computers, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to laptops. Every machine is a little different, so it’s important to find out as much as you can about your laptop and its battery. Our tips apply to lithium-ion batteries, which are by far the most commonly used batteries in modern laptops.

Windows 11 screenshot showing battery life.

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save bicycle, save your battery

All laptop batteries are built to handle a certain number of charge cycles, usually around 500 complete cycles – and sometimes even more. Essentially, a charge cycle is equivalent to a complete discharge to 0% and then recharge to 100%. Discharging to 50% and then to 100% will be equivalent to half a cycle. Over time, each charge cycle reduces the battery’s capacity below its design specifications, meaning the less often you top it off, the longer the battery will last – all other things being equal.

So where do you start? You can start by going to the Power Settings corner of your laptop and learning how your battery works and which battery settings to enable. Also, pay attention to the hibernation mode. Ideally, you want your laptop to go into hibernation before the battery drains completely – as well as during downtime when you won’t be using the laptop for a period of time.

To save even more power, navigate through your apps and quit apps that are running in the background and constantly draining your battery life. For example, in Windows 11, we recommend that you find and enable Battery Saver. This mode may automatically turn on when your laptop reaches 20% battery life (why this is especially important is explained in more detail below). This will automatically block background apps, stop your features like calendars from syncing or push notifications, reduce screen brightness, and enable various other changes that will save your battery so you can get back to work as quickly as possible. Can reach the outlet.

For MacBooks, consider enabling Power Nap on macOS versions prior to Ventura so you can put your Mac into sleep mode without worrying about dropping important tasks, saving you more battery life. In macOS Ventura and later, the power settings have changed – for example, there is no longer a “power nap” option – but the same basic options remain. Enabling automatic graphics switching, if your Mac has more than one graphics system, saves power by switching to a more energy-efficient (and slower) graphics mode when engaged in simple tasks (like text-based tasks where there are graphics) It may also help in saving. This is equally important).

Here you can also make a lot of manual changes. You can safely close things like cloud storage and messaging applications running in the background. You can reduce the power you use by turning off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when you’re not using them, turning off optional features like keyboard backlighting, and generally reducing the number of components that use battery. Can reduce the volume manually. Both Microsoft and Apple have guides explaining this process further.

Top-down view of a power adapter plugged into a laptop.


Keep your battery in the zone

Contrary to some recommendations, you do not routinely need to completely discharge a lithium-ion battery and then somehow recharge it to reboot or calibrate it – this is a destructive practice that is very hard on your battery. . Whether or not it is a smart idea to do a complete discharge once or twice a year remains an unanswered question. In general, the consensus seems to be that letting your battery discharge (without draining it – aim for about 20%) and then charging it when possible is best practice.

Back then, there was a time when users were advised to avoid leaving their devices plugged in, based on the idea that charging the battery to 100% could cause the battery to degrade more quickly. However, today, modern devices are designed to stop charging at 100%, so keeping them plugged in has no impact on battery lifespan, according to Battery University.

Like many battery-related questions, the issue of keeping your laptop plugged in when it reaches full capacity is hotly debated, so if you feel more comfortable doing so then consider turning off your machine and unplugging it. There is nothing wrong with me. But generally speaking, the best thing you can do for your lithium-ion battery is to keep it from discharging below 20%. Plug it in and charge whenever possible, and then rinse and repeat. The good news is that with modern batteries and systems, you really don’t have to do much other than anticipate that your battery will eventually begin to lose its overall capacity.

Finally, if you’re going to store your laptop for a long time without using it, discharge it or charge it to 50% before putting it away.

It’s hot out here, so keep your batteries hidden

When a laptop battery gets too hot, the electrochemical reactions inside speed up – but that doesn’t mean the battery becomes more efficient. Instead, the battery is now producing a lot of energy that it can’t use and can’t safely access any hardware. This creates even more heat, further exacerbating the problem. Not only can this eventually permanently damage the insides of the battery, but it also degrades the battery with many chemical reactions that are not necessary, but still occur throughout the lifetime of the battery.

Today’s lithium-ion batteries are durable, but they can only handle so much heat. For example, if you are charging your battery and it starts to overheat, perhaps because the CPU or graphics processor is working hard or the environment is excessively hot, turn off the device and drain the battery if possible. Take it out. Give it a little rest so it can cool down, or you can move it to a place with lower temperatures. Most modern laptops have sealed batteries, so if maximizing battery life is a concern of yours, turning off the machine and allowing it to cool is highly recommended.

Similarly, keep the laptop away from your lap. If the inconvenience isn’t reason enough, in many machines, you’re also making the problem worse by blocking the vent. You’ll want to make sure that both the vents that draw cold air in and expel hot air are able to do their job.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, you should avoid placing your laptop in a place where it can get hot. This includes in your car during the summer, under a window that receives direct sunlight, or near a space heater. Such abnormal conditions can cause a lot of damage to the battery in a short period of time, although you may not realize it immediately.

Cold temperatures are usually not a problem up to a certain point, and it is recommended to store the battery in a cool location, but do not leave your laptop in freezing temperatures. Extreme cold can also permanently drain the battery or reduce its lifespan.

If you want to monitor the temperatures even more closely (let’s say, you live in a particularly hot climate), there are several apps you can run that will monitor the laptop’s heat. This includes CoreTemp and Real Temp for Windows, which you can download for free.

Top-down view of a laptop power adapter.

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Leave it plugged in (but not all the time)

Most modern laptops are safe to leave plugged in. In fact, most high-powered gaming laptops work best when plugged in. The most important aspect of battery health is the discharge cycle. No matter how careful you are, your battery will degrade over time as you discharge and recharge it. Whenever you’re running an intensive application – such as a game – you can run it while your laptop is plugged in to reduce the number of discharge cycles on your battery.

However, you should not leave your laptop in this state all the time as your battery will drain very quickly. As mentioned, if you don’t plan on using it for a while, it’s better to store your battery at 40% to 50% capacity than storing it at 100% capacity. Fully charged, unattended batteries degrade rapidly, especially at high temperatures.

So, if you are not moving around and running any intensive applications, it is a good idea to leave your laptop plugged in for that period of time. If you’re tackling day-to-day tasks that don’t consume power that quickly – like browsing the Internet – you can rely on the battery alone.

Screenshot showing Battery Care theme options.

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Download software to get battery health reports

It can be hard to know how your battery is doing at a glance. Devices like iPhones come with native battery maintenance settings and alerts that provide at least some information, but these diagnostics are harder to find on laptops unless you install them yourself. Here are some battery-monitoring app options for you to consider.

BatteryCare: This extra-lightweight app – designed for Windows computers – provides notifications, CPU/storage temperature readings, discharge cycle monitoring and lots of useful information all in one place.

Battery Monitor: Designed for macOS, this app shows battery charge in a friendly interface with information on battery health and cycles, alerts, battery temperature readings, and current total capacity.

If you don’t want to download a dedicated app, you still have options available. For example, you can open Powershell on your Windows computer and run the command “powercfg /batteryreport”, which will give you a file path to this somewhat cryptic report. Copy it or drag it to the browser window, and you’ll get a page with complete information on your battery, including recent usage, cycle count, usage history, and more. It doesn’t have the intuitive interface of a monitoring app, but you don’t have to download anything extra to get it.

Windows 11 screenshot showing the battery saver option.

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Enable Battery-Aware Mode on Your Computer

Windows 10 operating systems provide a battery saver mode under their power settings. If you turn on battery saver mode when your power goes out, you will be able to extend battery life until you can find a charger. By activating Battery Saver mode on your computer, you will prevent damage to your battery from reaching 0% charge. MacOS has similar capabilities.

It’s a good idea to enable Adaptive Brightness mode as well. When you’re in a well-lit location, these modes adjust your screen brightness according to ambient light to help save battery life. You can also activate your laptop’s dark mode, which saves energy and can also be easier on your eyes. Any option that helps you save energy will extend your laptop’s battery life.

Update your operating system

For optimal functionality, you need to frequently update your computer’s software. When the manufacturer releases a new update, it not only contains patches and upgrades but may also help programs run more efficiently, which will save battery power. The same operating system on later patches may use significantly less battery power, making your battery last longer without changing anything. And so, review your OS and keep your machine – and its battery – on a healthy diet of updates.

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