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Tue 10 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Boost your battery

When it comes to battery life, netbooks have the worst reputation. So what can you do to improve this situation? WINDOWS takes a look at a number of measures you can implement to get your notebook batteries surging with longer life.

Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery
Boost your battery

When it comes to battery life, netbooks have the worst reputation. So what can you do to improve this situation? WINDOWS takes a look at a number of measures you can implement to get your notebook batteries surging with longer life.

The battery icon

One of the first ways you can start to control the battery life on your notebook or netbook is by clicking on the battery icon at the bottom of your taskbar and adjusting the balance or power saving settings. You should then be able to set the battery settings to ‘Balanced’ or ‘Power Saver’. High performance is sufficient enough for if you want to watch videos or play games, but other than that it just eats up your battery power.

Switch off wireless devices

If you’re not using your wireless devices such as Bluetooth or WiFi, it’s a good idea to switch it off completely as it takes up precious processing power. It’s often about rationing off which tasks you use and which tasks you don’t use.

Avoid DVDs/CDs

Using the optical drive on your system can create a huge draw of power use on your system. The reason for this is that your processor decodes audio and video and this takes up battery power. It can use up to 30% of your computer’s battery power. Rather, when watching or listening to media, it is a better idea to switch to downloaded or streaming digital content, such as iTunes. (Of course, this would mean avoiding rule number 2 and switching on your WiFi.)

Clean air vents to keep batteries cool

When air vents are blocked up, the computer needs to use more power in order to keep it going. Unblocking the air vents will keep things going more smoothly and running much faster. A cooler netbook equals a longer lasting battery.

No more unwanted background activities

You want to be able to squash all unwanted background activities. Some of the biggest culprits include automatic updates, anti-virus software and Windows Indexing. To switch off Windows indexing, it’s a matter of right clicking on the My Computer icon, and unchecking the index drive for faster searching. You can also access the task scheduler to disable any running tasks that you deem might be unnecessary and scheduled defragmentation activities. Your anti-virus software might also have activities running that you might want to switch off.

Exiting programs in Task Bar

If you dig deep into the task bar at the bottom right hand corner of your screen, you can often find programs that are running in the background that you should switch off, especially if those programs are unnecessary. Defrag regularly

While it’s advised that you switch off any defragmentation schedules while running your computer on your battery. What we do suggest is that you run defragmentation schedules before your computer is running. As long as your computer runs smoothly, it should be alright. Fragmentation on a hard drive occurs when data is not written closely enough to the drive. The result is that over time your drives have to read pieces of data from multiple areas on the drives and they cannot access the whole data as fast as they would if the data had been written on the same area of the drives. Defragmentation rearranges fragmented data on your drives so that your disks can run more efficiently.

Low graphics use

You can adjust the graphics display so as to ‘dumb’ down the look of your icons and the display of taskbar and so on. This in turn results in faster performance for your computer. You can adjust the level of your graphics use in Windows XP or Vista by venturing into the Control Panel of your computer and adjusting the settings there.

Dim your screen

You can adjust the brightness on your screen and lower it so as to use less battery power.

No external devices

External devices, such as portable drives, can use up a lot of computing power. So, it’s best not to use them if you’re purely relying on your battery.

Add more RAM

Adding more Random Access Memory can reduce your computer’s reliance on your processing power. There are a number of companies such as Kingston that produce memory modules for netbooks. Many computer stores can add RAM for you, but they will charge you a service fee. You can however, do it yourself. There are a number of things to take into consideration when inserting RAM, the first being that you should not touch the RAM with your hands when inserting it into your computer. Make sure that your feet are not touching a carpet either so that you don’t generate static electricity. Furthermore, we suggest that you earth yourself by touching some metal. Inserting the RAM then is simply a matter of opening the back of your netbook and slotting it in.

Windows 7 battery saving power

The latest version of Windows 7 renders it easier for you to be able to use your netbook or notebook for longer on just your battery. Windows 7 has reportedly been designed in such a way so as to reduce use less battery power. According to Microsoft’s Vice President for Product Management, Windows 7 is intended to give notebooks longer battery life, easier networking, better security, and run on much less-powerful machines than Vista—including netbooks.