• How Road Warriors Can Save Laptop Battery Power

Have you ever done the power socket dance? You do it when your laptop is almost out of juice. Move, stop, duck down, glance intensely around, and then jerk your head up. Repeat, slowly, like a bird looking for worms, until you find a power socket to plug into. It's all the rage at airports, cafes, and anywhere else that laptop users congregate.

To avoid this strange contortion, you need a laptop that can go all day or even longer without running out of power. Part of that involves your initial buying decision, but a lot comes down to configuration and battery usage. Here's how to get some extra power out of your laptop battery when you need it most.

The first important decision comes when choosing what to buy: Go for a laptop that suits your working profile rather than going for sheer muscle power. There's no point hulking around a powerful gaming laptop for simple word processing and email, after all. 4K displays are big battery sucks in modern laptops, so stick with a lower-resolution screen unless you really need that super-crisp display.

Talking of screens, turn down displaybrightness as a matter of course. Many devices these days have a high screen brightness ceiling (measured in nits) but this doesn't mean you have to use them all. Nothing sucks up power quite so much as a laptop that outglows the sun, so set the brightness level to a comfortable threshold that still allows you to see your work. You'll notice the difference in battery time.

Screen brightness is something you can turn down, but there are also features that you can turn off altogether. Examples include Wi-Fi and Bluetooth networking. Even with the low-powered wireless technologies in modern laptops, every little helps, and it's easy to turn them both off using the airline mode available in modern operating systems. This also has the advantage of reducing your laptop's attack surface, because you won't fall foul of wireless vulnerabilities like KNOB, BlueBorne, and KRACK.

If you can't turn off your power because you need to browse, then at least consider reducing your email synchronisation so that your machine isn't constantly calling out to your email server. You can change how often your Windows 10 computer collects mail, calendar and contact updates via Settings → Accounts → Email & Accounts, and also set which accounts it connects to.

All common desktop operating systems also include their own battery saver modes. These enable you to make the device more energy efficient by trading off some performance advantages. You can set Windows 10 to turn on its battery saver mode automatically when power dips below a threshold you set in Settings → System → Battery, or you can turn it on manually using the Windows 10 Action Center (access this using Win-A). Some versions of Windows also have a battery slider, which lets you select between four battery modes with varying levels of aggression. Access that by clicking on the taskbar's battery icon.

While you're looking at OS-level power settings, Check out the power and sleep settings in Settings → System → Power & Sleep for some other options. From here, you can define how long your PC takes to sleep when inactive, and you can force it to disconnect from Wi-Fi when it sleeps.

Having tweaked power usage across the entire machine, it's time to concentrate on your applications. Some apps use more power than others. It isn't always as easy as watching the office lights dim when you open another tab in Chrome. Luckily, Windows 10 has a tool for this. The Battery settings area has a Battery usage by app section that shows you the percentage of battery power each app has used recently. Find the heaviest users, click on them and shut each app by shutting down its own window. You can also stop apps from running in the background using Settings → Privacy → Background Apps to so that they don't lurk and pilfer your power behind the scenes.

Having done all this, you might still face times when computing demands are high and electrons are in short supply. Fear not - if your laptop is lightweight and sips power rather than gulps it, you can always take a portable battery pack along with you.

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