Unplug Your Laptop Regularly (When In Doubt)

A friend replaced her laptop's battery after only two years because it wouldn't hold a charge. I suggested she shouldn't keep her laptop always plugged in, but I wondered—was this outdated geek lore, rendered obsolete by modern batteries?

Photo by candescent.

Yes and no. It depends, of course, on what kind of battery you have. Battery technology has come a long way over the years, and surely in 2009 you don't have to worry about how long your laptop's been plugged in. However, one major notebook manufacturer (which ships Lithium-ion batteries) thinks you should, and suggests adding a reminder to your calendar to deplete and recharge your battery once a month. To quote: "Apple does not recommend leaving your portable plugged in all the time."

My friend, however, has a two-year-old Dell. Cursory Googling for her model didn't turn up the equivalent of Apple's definitive statement, only lots of opinions which ranged from "it's a non-issue" to "yes, it kills batteries!" Dell.com's battery recommendations page doesn't say anything about not keeping your notebook plugged in. HP's battery tips page doesn't answer the question, either. I pored through my wife's ASUS Eee PC user guide and didn't find any warning about continuous charging. A non-mention might make you think it's a non-problem, but if this is an issue for Apple notebook batteries, it is for PC notebooks with lithium-based batteries too. When I asked, my Twitter followers returned mixed replies, but many notebook users (both Mac and PC) DID report anecdotal battery problems when the machine was plugged in constantly.

Other folks more educated about the differences in battery types than I am dropped knowledge about which ones are problematic and which aren't. Learn from all the respondents' suggestions, research and hard-learned lessons at the full post.

Unplug Your Laptop Regularly (When In Doubt) [Smarterware]


Comments

    For Lith' Ion batteries there are a couple of simple rules for expanding their life:
    They don't overly like getting hot.
    They don't like being discharged below 10%, in fact most would prefer if they could be constantly trickle charged between 90% and 100% (this makes it get hot thou so you have to find a balance). Lith' Ion don't get battery memory problems so there is no advantage in doing a full discharge then recharge.

    Ni-MH do have memory so full discharge-recharge can be helpful. They also can get fairly hot with no downside. Their disadvantage is they don't pack as much power as the Li-Ion.

    Thanks electrical engineering degree..

    I've got in the habit of removing the battery from my Dell XPS1210 when it's plugged in to AC. It's about 2.5 yrs old and I still get about 4hrs when I need to use the battery

    My Dell XPS 1330 has been plugged in most of its life (18months approx) and has terrible battery life now. Ho hum.

    Ni-MH does not have a memory effect. I've already given a blast to a couple of writers on ITNews about this, see comments section (jonkvh) here : http://www.itnews.com.au/News/156267,top-10-tips-for-a-healthy-pc.aspx/0

    I see all of the sudden this topic this morning popping up on a number of site for some reason now...

    My Toshiba A300/U01 always had bad battery time (about 90mins) i suspect i got a cheaper low cell count battery. I regularly notice that the laptop despite being plugged in is running off battery. I guess it does an automatic cycling to keep the battery in good health.

    It's a shame that you only quoted part of the Apple site and not the part that followed what you quoted. Also notice the choice of the words "All the time".
    let's finish the quote from the apple article to put it in context...
    "An ideal use would be a commuter who uses her notebook on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge. This keeps the battery juices flowing."
    To paraphrase, unplug it for a bit to get the juices flowing, then plug it back in! Nowhere does it say to discharge it regularly! Let alone once a month! This is if you rarely use it! Re-read the article!
    " If on the other hand, you use a desktop computer at work, and save a notebook for infrequent travel, Apple recommends charging and discharging its battery at least once per month."
    Seriously, read that above quote more than once if you don't see what I mean... THERE'S A COMMA THERE!

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