Imagine you’ve just bought a shiny new laptop. It’s super-fast, super sleek, and working like a dream.
Suddenly, within an hour of use, the dreaded ‘your battery is running low’ message sweeps across your screen. Now you’re left wondering – if it’s so new, how is it dying so quickly!?
This isn’t an issue reserved for new laptops, either. Even older laptops that have run smoothly for a few years with minimal issues can start to drain super fast for no apparent reason.
If you’ve found yourself looking for answers, you’ve come to the right place. Stick with us to learn more about why your laptop may be dying so fast and what you can do to fix it.
Why Do Laptop Batteries Die So Quickly?
Although this is a common problem, it’s not normal. Laptop batteries should be able to hold their charge sufficiently.
Even older laptops should be able to give you a good boost of juice before needing a recharge. So let’s take a look at some of the most common causes of poor laptop battery life.
1) Old Or Discharged Battery Charger
When was the last time you checked your charger? One of the most common causes of a draining laptop battery is a faulty charger. You can still charge the laptop externally without the official charger. Remember: just because a charger fits your laptop, it doesn’t mean it’s strong enough to charge it!
If you’re using a knock-off brand charger, this is a common problem. Check the wattage of the charger that was designed for your laptop. You’ll want any new charger to match this wattage or be slightly higher.
If you’re using anything lower than the designated wattage, you won’t be able to supply your laptop with enough power. This can damage your battery, drain its life, and make it run slower than usual.
Where possible, always stick to the manufacturer’s charger.
2) Background Processes
Sometimes, if there are too many processes running in the background, your battery can suffer. Even if you’ve closed all visible applications, some can still linger in the background and drain your battery.
If you’re using a Windows laptop, head over to the Task Manager, and you’ll be presented with a list of all applications currently running on your laptop.
You may find that many of these features and applications are unnecessary, so close off all the ones you aren’t using, and things should run smoother.
Here are some examples of the most common, unnecessary applications that just LOVE to drain your battery.
- Desktop Window Manager
- Browsers, such as Google Chrome
- Network Services
- Automatic Updates for Adobe Acrobat
If you don’t know what a process does, it’s good to research it first. If you’re closing applications that update automatically, remember to check for manual updates.
These are important, and falling behind on updates can compromise the longevity of your laptop.
If you’re not sure which applications are the power-hoggers, there’s a handy hack to find out for Windows users!
Simply type ‘see which apps are affecting battery life’ into the Windows search bar, and you’ll be given a convenient list of the ones consuming the most power.
Each app will have a written percentage and bar next to it to tell you how much power the app is using. If the top-drainers are ones you don’t use frequently, go ahead and close them.
Most of these are forgotten apps that run in the background – you can close them without an issue most of the time.
3) Display Settings
Believe it or not, the number one cause of a draining laptop battery is your display settings! Unless you’re sitting outside or next to a well-lit window, your brightness does NOT need to be turned up high.
Having your brightness turned up high can drain your battery INCREDIBLY fast, so head into your laptop settings and turn it down.
Live desktop wallpapers are also one of the worst offenders. If you’ve got fancy, moving graphics in the background, expect your battery life to drain quickly. If saving power is a priority, ditch the moving backgrounds and opt for something plain.
Bloatware. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s time to get clued up.
Bloatware refers to any form of software that’s hidden or unwanted. Usually, bloatware comes preinstalled on your device by your manufacturer. There are a few main categories of bloatware – these are:
Arguably, adware is the most annoying of all. Adware is a form of software that pops up whenever you’re online. These spam messages usually come in the form of banners and pop-ups, and 9 times out of 10, they’re advertising you something you DON’T want.
Adware is very pervasive, too, and often, it’ll follow you from browser to browser. Although adware isn’t usually pre-installed by the manufacturer, it is a form of bloatware that’ll drain your battery, and leave you vulnerable to an abundance of security risks.
Useless, clunky toolbars are an annoying browser menu that is usually preinstalled and can be challenging to get rid of. Some prime examples are the Ask and Bing toolbars – you know, the ones that hijack your browser and flood you with useless content!
Even if a manufacturer doesn’t preinstall these toolbars, you may have downloaded one accidentally. They can be disguised as regular software – so opening your browser to find one of those pesky, invasive bars can be a nasty surprise.
- Utility Apps:
Utility apps can be anything from calendar apps and weather apps to reminders and calculator apps. We often use these apps without thinking twice, and they’re usually installed to serve one single purpose.
However, your laptop will usually come with a load of utility apps that you never even use. So it’s a good idea to scroll through your apps, weed out the useless ones, and remove them from your computer.
Many of these can run in the background, and in short, they’re pesky power drainers.
Trialware is almost always preinstalled on your device. Trialware is usually pre-installed by a manufacturer when they want to market a specific service to you, such as security software or free trials for add-on services.
Trialware can be helpful – it’s a great way to get a taste of the software before you buy it; however, leaving it on your laptop when you’ve used it (or not planning to use it) can drain your battery.
To identify bloatware, head into your laptop’s task manager or bring up a list of apps installed on your laptop. When you’ve identified the bloatware, uninstall it, and watch your power improve instantly!
5) Keyboard Backlights
Keyboard backlights – they’re pretty, but they’re notorious power suckers. When you keep your lights running, your battery will run faster than usual – especially on gaming laptops.
Unless you need your backlights on for nighttime use, keep them turned off! On average, keyboard backlights can drain your battery by 2-3%.
This might not seem like a lot, but it adds up, especially if you have other applications running in the background.
6) Too Many Network Devices And Bluetooth Links
Sometimes, if you have too many devices on your network, your battery can drain much faster. Reducing the number of active connections on your laptop can preserve battery life.
The best way to do this is to disable Wi-Fi to devices that don’t need to be connected.
The same also applies to Bluetooth devices. Anything that doesn’t need to be connected should be disconnected to improve your battery life.
To disable devices, you can go into your network connections settings to view connected devices and disable them from here.
7) Too Many Peripherals
In simple terms, peripherals refer to any external device connected to your laptop. This could be keyboards, DVD drives, speakers, a mouse, a controller, a wireless phone charger, or anything else.
Unfortunately, having too many peripherals plugged in at the same time can drain your battery. If you’ve got a device plugged in that you’re not using, simply unplug it from your USB drive.
To safely remove your device and avoid corrupting it, head into your system settings. You should see a taskbar with a device icon for your application. Right-click it, and eject it manually to preserve your hardware or data.
8) Power-Hungry Games
We’ve already had a look at those power-hungry background apps, but sometimes, some of the apps we use regularly can be the worst offenders.
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid using them. However, knowing how much power they use up can help you figure out ways to cut down your usage in other areas.
If you’re a regular gamer, there’s a good chance your go-to is draining your laptop. This can be due to many reasons, including graphics, memory, and data storage.
If your games take up a lot of storage, it’s worth investing in an external hard drive to free up space on your laptop and improve your battery.
If your laptop is old and not suitable for hardcore gaming, investing in a gaming laptop may be your best bet. Important features you should look out for include:
- Memory and Storage
- CPU and GPU
- Ports and Inputs
Any laptop with a good CPU speed and plenty of external ports will improve your battery life.
Take a Look at The Physical
Although there are plenty of settings you can tweak to improve your battery performance, sometimes, the issue can be physical. Let’s take a closer look at some of the physical problems that can drain battery life.
Like all electronic devices, laptops are prone to overheating. If your laptop is firing on all cylinders and the temperature rises, your battery can take the fallout.
Temperature increases can mess with your battery sensors and cause a whole range of charging problems. Your battery can drain faster, not charge at all, or cause your laptop to shut down completely.
To avoid overheating your laptop, you should do the following:
- Work in a Cool Area: If it’s heating up outside, take your laptop to the coolest room in the house. Avoiding exposure to high temperatures will protect your battery.
- Work on Flat Surfaces: Using your laptop on a cool, sturdy, flat surface like a desk or a table can improve airflow. If you rest your laptop on a bed or a blanket during use, heat, dirt, and dust can build up quickly, making your laptop more susceptible to problems.
- Check Your Vents: Laptop vents and cooling fans should ALWAYS be left uncovered. Vents and fans work to draw hot air out of your laptop and avoid overheating. Make sure you remove any obstructions out of the way to improve airflow and check vents for a build-up of dust or dirt.
When was the last time you checked your connector jack? Even if there are no exposed wires, bent metal, or dodgy plastic, other obstructions can prevent a clean connection.
Take a close look at your connector and check it over for a build-up of dirt or dust. In most cases, this can be cleaned out with a small pin or toothpick.
Sometimes, the connector jack can be loose or ill-fitting. If this happens, you may need to take your device to a repair shop or see if you can fix the issue at home.
Windows Tips & Tricks
Now we’ve looked at some of the most common causes of a draining battery, let’s explore some more specific tips and tricks for Windows.
Although many of our tips and tricks are universal, there are a few handy hacks specifically for Windows devices that may just save the day!
If you haven’t already heard of it, let us introduce you to Windows Power Mode – your new best friend.
To access power mode, simply click on the battery icon in the bottom right corner of your screen. You’ll be presented with a slider that you can reposition to select your desired power mode.
You’ll see an option at each end of the scale – ‘best battery life’ and ‘best power performance.’ Move your slider over to the ‘best battery life’ side of the scale, and let Windows do the rest.
Like most electronic devices, most Windows devices come with a battery saver mode.
Battery Save Mode is an intelligent system that works to improve your battery by limiting and removing unnecessary background apps and notifications when your battery starts running low.
To access the battery saver, go into the Settings section of your system when you’re on low power and click ‘System.’ Then, click on the ‘Battery’ option to launch your power-saving options. You’ll see Battery Saver as one of the options here – simply position the toggle to the ‘on’ position, and you’re good to go.
Disable Background Apps
Windows also has a convenient way to disable multiple background apps simultaneously and improve your batteries efficiency.
Simply go into your settings, and hit the ‘Privacy’ tab. On the left pane, you’ll see a list of options. Scroll down the ‘Background Apps’ section, located in ‘App Permissions,’ and hit ‘select.’
You’ll then see a toggle on the right side of your screen underneath the phrase ‘let apps run in the background.’ Slide this toggle to the on position, and the disable background apps option will be selected.
If you have any essential apps you need to run in the background, such as timers and calendars, you should disable apps manually to avoid missing important notifications.
Stop Start-Up Apps
When you power up your laptop, you’ll probably have a few apps that like to start up automatically. If these aren’t necessary, you can choose to disable all start-up apps and improve your battery life.
To do this, open up Windows Task Manager and select the ‘Startup’ option.
Once you’re here, you can disable all unnecessary startup apps by clicking on a listed app and selecting the ‘disable’ option in the bottom-right corner.
MacBook Tips & Tricks
If you’re a Macbook owner, don’t turn away just yet! Let’s explore some helpful tips and tricks for improving battery life on your Macbook.
Check Battery Health
Whether you’re using a new Macbook or a refurbished model, if you’re experiencing battery performance issues, it’s good to check your battery’s health. To do this, follow the steps below:
- Select the ‘Battery’ icon in your Macbooks menu bar, and hit ‘Battery Preferences’
- Now, select the ‘Battery’ tab on the left side of the screen, and click the ‘Battery Health’ option
- You’ll be presented with a window that gives you a detailed overview of your laptop battery’s current condition and its maximum capacity. If your battery’s maximum capacity is low, it may need replacing.
Switch To Safari
Unfortunately, as brilliant as Chrome is, it’s a notorious battery sucker thanks to its hefty RAM consumption. So if you’re using Chrome, it’s worth switching over to Safari.
One study found that switching to Safari can give you around an extra hour of usage from your battery life – and truthfully, there’s not a HUGE difference between the two browsers.
If you’re not bothered about customization options and features like the lock pad option, Safari will be a breezy switchover.
Use Dark Mode
When we said brightness and graphics are the biggest battery drainers out there, we meant it. One of the easiest ways to tweak the settings on your Macbook is to enable dark mode. To do this, follow these steps:
- Click on the Apple menu, select ‘System Preferences,’ hit ‘General,’ and you’ll be presented with a few Appearance options at the top of your screen.
- You’ll see the following: light, dark, and auto. Select ‘dark’ to switch the background of your primary applications to black. This uses fewer pixels than light mode, and your battery will thank you for it!.
Note: Windows 10 users can also use dark mode. To enable dark mode, head into ‘Settings,’ ‘Personalization’ and hit the ‘Colors’ option.
You’ll then see a drop-down menu. Here, select ‘dark’ to change the appearance of the Windows start menu and other built-in applications.
If you want more freedom, you can select the Custom option to choose your own mix between light and dark.
When To Change Your Laptop’s Battery
Although there are plenty of settings and tips you can use to improve your battery’s life sometimes, it’s physically impossible to improve its efficiency.
This is usually the case with older laptops that have been used frequently or consistently overcharged.
Here’s the big question, though – how do you know when it’s time to treat your laptop to a new battery? Well, here’ some of the most common signs you should be looking out for.
- Slow Charge Time:
If you have a healthy laptop battery, your device will be quick to charge to full power.
When it’s unplugged from the charger, it should also retain this power for an extended period. If your laptop is doing neither, it may be time to replace the battery.
- Frequent Overheating:
Overheating isn’t uncommon – it happens to most laptops from time to time. However, if you’re taking all necessary precautions to prevent overheating and it’s still occurring, you’ve got a problem.
If your battery is struggling to cool itself and is constantly hot to the touch, this is a good indicator it’s time for a revamp.
- Constant Power Issues:
Sometimes, power issues are unavoidable. However, if your laptop is cutting out on you frequently, especially after you’ve just charged it, there’s probably a fault with the battery. So make a note of how often these outages occur, and if the issue persists, replace the battery.
- Old Age:
As much as our bank accounts would appreciate it, no laptop is designed to work forever. If you’ve had your laptop for a few years, the battery may be failing due to old age.
The average laptop battery starts to experience problems after around 1-2 years. If yours is in this age bracket, it’s wise to replace the battery as soon as possible.