Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Maintain Your Laptop Battery Better With BatteryCare (Windows)

BAThEADHow many of you out there know about proper laptop battery care? There are so many urban legends and myths regarding batteries that it is hard to know what is real and what is not.  BatteryCare can help you understand the ways of battery guruness….is that a word? Probably not but hey it sounds good!
Way back when, it was very bad to leave your laptop plugged in and charging after the battery was charged. Nowadays this is not the case because the computer switches to a trickle charging mode when the battery hits 100%. BatteryCare not only gives you a glimpse at a glance of your available power including the time you have left it also does some neat tricks.
After downloading and installing this small application you will have a new system tray icon. Mine is all the way to the left. It tells me that my battery is 95% charged and can operate for 2 hours and 36 minutes at the current rate. This is a HUGE improvement over the normal battery meter you see in the middle of my system tray.

The first trick it can do is change your power settings to a different profile depending on if you are plugged into power or not. These profiles can turn down your screen’s brightness or turn off Bluetooth.
To setup a power profile you can visit your Power Options in your Windows control panel. Once you have them set up or you decide to use the built in ones, click on the BatteryCare icon and open the application. You will see the screen below.
Next up, hit the options button and then Power Plans. Simply check the box that says Automatically select Power Plans. Then choose the plans you want to switch to when you are on battery or AC power. When you are done click accept -  yes, it is that easy!
While we are in the options let’s see what other choices we have.  Under advanced options you can be notified when a Full Discharge is necessary to improve the performance of your battery. The program tells this by noting how many discharges your machine has had since it started running. You can manually adjust this number if you are not running this against a new battery, do this by setting the Discharge cycles count manual adjustment number at the bottom. I set mine to three. When you reach your set number you will be prompted to fully discharge your battery.
By clicking on the detailed information tab you can see the battery manufacturer as well as designed capacity and total capacity, This can tell you if your battery has degraded. Thankfully mine is fine.
Even after leaving the app running for several hours some of my numbers were at zero but for the sheer power of changing profiles on the fly and the detailed battery meter this app is AWESOME!  Thanks guys keep up the great work. Their website also has some awesome information on debunking the battery myths.
We’ve also discussed two alternatives to the Windows laptop battery meter which is something else you can consider.

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