It is a familiar scenario. You make it to class a few minutes late and squeeze into a middle-of-the-row seat.

Because it is an exam review you brought your laptop to follow along with the slides and notes.

Your laptop boots up, which is when you realize that the battery charge is down to 27%.

Briefly you consider heading home and back to bed, but then you remember the tips in the Dr. Tech article about how to converse power and the day is saved.

This is that article.

There are immediate-term, medium-term, and long-term strategies for maximizing battery-life on your laptop. Implement the medium and long term strategies and you may never need the short-term emergency measures.

Long-term strategies include upgrading your hard drive and adding RAM.

Conventional hard drives are mechanical spinning magnetic disks that store data.

HHDs, as the mechanical drives are called, take lots of power to run the motor alone.

Solid State Drives are called SSD and do not have motors but use flash memory and take significantly less battery power to run than HHDs.

Solid State Drives cost roughly $200 to $500 depending on the storage size in gigabytes.

Add the cost of having the upgrade done, including your data copied to the new SSD.

Consider also consider adding Random Access Memory (RAM) to your laptop to take data demands off of the hard drive.

RAM chips are relatively inexpensive and you can probably double your laptop RAM for under $100.

There may already be slots for extra RAM in your laptop, but unless you know your way around the insides of a computer this is a task best left to a professional.helpdesk_map

Start by visiting the Computer Walk Up Help Desk on the main floor of the Valley Library where there is a laptop clinic with smart people who can test your machine and advise on ways to improve it.

Medium-term strategies for reducing the power drain on your laptop include removing malware and getting a back-up battery solution.

Malware is malicious software that sneakily installs itself to wreak untold havoc, the least of which by using up precious electrons from your battery.

The OSU Computer Help desk recommends Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware to remove unwanted programs that you probably do not even know are on your machine.

Both of these anti-malware programs have free versions and are available at the Information Services Computer Help Documents.

Both programs have pro versions for about $30 each; the advantage of which is being able to schedule regular malware sweeps and detect malware downloads in real time.

Do you remember when Vice-President Dick Cheney was worried that someone would hack into his pacemaker?

He probably had back-up battery and so should you, for your laptop.

You can buy a replacement battery for your laptop and keep it charged and on hand, but it is easier to use a portable external power source.

battery-306298__180There are many low-cost portable power packs available; your concern is to make sure it has sufficient charge to last for several hours and will attach to the power adapter for your laptop, as well as being small enough to ensure that you will take it with you.

You can find portable external power source units that will keep your laptop alive for at least a few hours for about $50 to $150.

There are even solar charger options.

The OSU Beaver Store has portable external power sources and is a great source of information especially about Macintosh laptops.

Immediate strategies for reducing power consumption include changing your laptop’s power options, disabling unneeded services and closing unneeded applications.

In an urgent race against battery drain you should activate your laptop’s power saving options.

On Windows 7 and 8: >Control panel >Power options >Power Saver.

On Macintosh: >Apple icon >System Preferences >Energy Saver.

These measures will dim the monitor and put unused services to sleep.

Next disable services that you do not need such as Bluetooth, location and Airport (Mac); if you do not need wireless, turn it off, as it is a power hog.

If ever there was a time to adopt the minimalist lifestyle, an hour to go on 15% battery life is one such; turn off all applications and processes except for those you absolutely need at the moment.

Computers adapt to our demands for convenience by automatically loading many programs when we boot up; you may be surprised to find how many programs you are running in the background.

On Windows 7 and 8: >Ctrl+Alt+Delete >Task Manager >Applications >End Task.

On Macintosh: >Spotlight >Activity Monitor > Select App >Quit Process.

The important point is for you to take a bit of time to familiarize yourself with220px-Lightning3 the relevant power managing and using features of your laptop.

It will not do to miss the lecture that you are eager to record by spending the whole period messing with your computer; get to know the basics of laptop power.

In the next decade we will have wireless electricity (which Nikola Telsa announced in 1891) and our devices will always be charged without ever being plugged in; for now, and then too, we all need to learn how to intelligently manage what we have.


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