Right out of the box, almost all notebooks have superfluous software installed by the manufacturer to add “value” to your new PC. Translation: most new PCs come loaded with bloatware (AKA crapware) which doesn’t need to be installed on your computer. While some of these applications aren’t causing any problems (other than wasting storage space on your hard drive) some of these applications are setup to automatically run in the background when you start Windows and in some cases they use your wireless network to check for updates and download alerts.
Bloatware can be a touchy subject since some people like having these extra applications that check for updates to DVD playback software or checks for the latest accessory deals from the laptop manufacturer. It’s ultimately up to you to decide whether you want to uninstall the “extras” that came pre-installed on your laptop.
A Few More Changes To Windows
In addition to the typical bloatware, most new PCs come with the following processes running in the background … all of which eat up precious CPU cycles and trash your hard drive. You might find some of these processes helpful, but if you are trying to squeeze out every possible minute of battery life from your laptop then keep reading.
Automatic Updates: You should keep your system up to date with the latest Windows updates, this should be done at your own leisure if you care about battery life. The best time to update Windows is obviously when you’re connected to a power outlet. To disable automatic updates, go into your Control Panel and click on “Windows Update”. In the next window click on “change settings” on the left side, and make your way to the next screen. Now change your selection to “Never check for updates”, and click OK. Please note that this may make your system vulnerable if you don’t manually check for updates on a regular basis.
Windows Indexing: Windows disk indexing helps to reduce search times when trying to find a particular file on your hard drive, but will wreak havoc on your battery life in the process. To disable indexing, open “My Computer” and right click on your hard drive. On the first screen that shows up, uncheck “Index this drive for faster searching”. You will need to proceed through a few prompts, as well as clicking “ignore all” if prompted. This may take quite a bit of time depending on how full your drive is.
Anti-Virus Software: AV software is a huge performance hog both when searching for viruses and when updating virus definitions. On the other hand, your AV software can also be a life saver depending on what type of sites your visit or what sorts of files you encounter. If you are a very careful and savvy PC user then you can steer clear of harmful sites and files and may not need any AV software. Be warned that removing AV software from your system is risky and should be done at your own discretion. If you’ve had a number of virus problems in the past then do NOT consider removing your anti-virus software.
If you are running anti-virus software then you might want to make sure the automatic updates and virus scans aren’t scheduled to take place when you’re running on battery power.
The next step of this guide requires you to use the Task Scheduler and disable a few services that your computer runs in the background while you are using your laptop. This can be accessed by going into your program list, then Accessories, then System Tools, finally clicking Task Scheduler.
In the list of Active Tasks, the following items cause the most unwanted activity in the background. To disable any of these items, double click the selection which will take you to another screen listing more details on that activity. Now all you need to do is right click the item, and click disable to stop it from bothering you in the future.
Consolidator: This runs in the background for the Customer Improvement Program. Not a major power draw but it’s something you can turn off
Scheduled Defrag: Defragments your hard drive, and will bog down your system in the process. I handle this at my own leisure instead of letting the system schedule it weekly.
You can extend the amount of run time on your laptop’s battery by hours in some cases simply by following this guide and being mindful of the software you are using on your laptop. Even when not increasing battery life, many of these tweaks help improve system performance, and many times make your old laptop feel like a speed demon again. You can keep that old laptop and save it from the landfill for another year.
Your laptop is more like you than you might think: The harder you work, the more energy you lose. If you can find the right balance between resting (being idle) and doing all the things you want to do with your laptop you’ll be amazed at how long your battery will keep running.
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