How to preserve your laptop battery
Laptops are pretty robust these days, but their battery packs still have a limited lifespan. It’s more than likely that a new notebook will still be working just fine long after the battery has worn itself out.
Batteries have a finite lifespan based on the number of charges, temperature, general treatment of the machine and the type of battery itself, and new batteries are expensive, costing up to £100 to replace, so you’ll be wanting to make sure yours lasts as long as possible.
What to do if your laptop is more than 5 years old
Avoid overheating your laptop
Older laptops are likely to have a nickel cadium or nickel metal hydroxide battery — you should see the letter NiMh or NiCd on the battery level.
NiMh and NiCd batteries are a lot more sensitive than the newer lithium ion ones, and need to be fully discharged and recharged regularly to refresh their ‘memory’.
They’re also susceptible to overcharging and heat — if you use your laptop plugged in for long periods of time, it’s an idea to remove the battery before booting.
Just remember that if you unplug the laptop while in use, it will turn off, and that the batteries will need to be used once a week or so and go through a full discharge/recharge cycle.
Care of a new laptop battery
Newer laptops use lithium ion (Li-ion) cells, which don’t have a chemical ‘memory’ about their capacity like NiMh or NiCd packs. You don’t need to let them run down fully before recharging to take care of them, and special circuits built into the charger will stop the battery charging when it’s full.
Even so, they will lose capacity over their lifespan, and a heavily used laptop might go from 5 hours on a single charge to 2 in the space of a couple of years. Heat is the number one killer of Li-ion batteries, and regularly letting one get hotter than 35 degrees can reduce its capacity by 50% in a year.
Because charging the battery is what generates the most heat, it’s a good idea not to let Li-ion cells run too low — the longer they are charging for, the hotter they get.
Topping them up at around 40-20% is good practice. They do need to be used, however, or their capacity will decrease — so don’t leave your laptop plugged in and charged to 100% all the time.
As with other batteries, if you’re using your laptop at a desk all the time, it’s a good idea to remove the battery and just run it off mains power rather than letting it stay fully charged .
Finally, there’s recent research that shows a battery charged to 80%, rather than 100%, on a regular basis will last longer — and some Toshiba laptops come with a utility to cut off the charge at this point. So unless you’re absolutely sure you’re going to need that extra hour or so of juice, unplug it early.