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5 Tips to Extend Your Laptop Battery's Life

There's been a lot of talk recently about laptop battery life -- we told you, for example, about how some folks thought Windows 7 was misreporting laptop battery levels, but in reality it appears that the OS is simply accurately indicating battery wear, so you can be better informed about when to replace the battery.

Your laptop battery, you see, starts losing capacity as soon as you drive it off the lot, and after a year or two you might need to get a new battery just to get an hour or two away from an outlet.

So what steps can you take to make the battery last as long as possible? Mind you, I'm not talking about optimizing the runtime on a single charge. I am talking about getting as much mileage as possible from a battery before you have to replace it just to get a reasonable runtime out of each charge. Here are a few ways you can get the most out of your laptop battery:

1. Keep your laptop battery cool. Batteries degrade more quickly when they're hot. That means you should keep vents clear -- don't put your laptop on a fluffy pillow or a cushioned surface that will cover vents and trap heat.

2. Don't pack your laptop away in a backpack or other enclosed space when the battery is still warm, trapping the heat. A battery that's frequently hot to the touch will lose life a lot faster than a battery that isn't constantly being stressed. Worst of all: If your laptop crashes or refuses to shut off properly, the battery can get extremely hot when packed away in your bag. Check it to make sure it hasn't gotten dangerously hot while stowed away over the weekend.

3. Don't charge your laptop constantly. If you only occasionally take your laptop away from a power outlet, but leave it plugged in to charge 24/7, you're leaving your laptop in a state of perpetual charge at the 100% point -- and that is bad for the battery's long-time health.

4. If you tend to use your laptop mainly at your desk, exercise your laptop battery by running it down and recharging it once or (even better) twice a month.

5. Alternately, you might want to physically remove the laptop battery if you're using the laptop at your desk for long stretches of time. If you do remove it, don't store it in a fully charged or depleted state. It's best to store it in the middle -- between 40 and 50 percent of full charge.

Check out more of the best laptops at CNET.

Photo by Lizette Greco

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