By Alyssa Bereznak
You likely spend more time on your laptop than with your significant other, your dog or — at the very least — your plants. So there’s no reason you shouldn’t treat it with the same tender loving care. Here are a few tips to ensure that your gadget’s battery has a long and happy life.
(This guide is focused on lithium-ion batteries, which is what most modern laptops are packing. If you want to learn about how to care for other types of batteries, a dense database of such things.)
1. Don’t get too attached.
When you plug your laptop in for the first time, you should make sure to fully charge it once to calibrate it. But after that, aim to keep it between 40 and 80 percent. Apple’s customer care says you should do this to “keep the electrons in it moving occasionally.” Wired has a better explanation of why here. But the bottom line is, doing this can help prolong your battery life by as much as four times.
I know that’s easier said than done. Just remember to keep an eye on your battery percentage (usually shown in a corner of your screen) throughout the day. If you leave your laptop at home, then shut it down, close it and keep it unplugged on a desk, not a couch.
You should also fully charge and discharge your computer’s battery at least once a month. Set a reminder on your phone or something. You forked over what I assume to be a ton of money for this thing, so paying attention to it once a month shouldn’t be a problem.
2. Stay cool.
Most modern laptops are made with lithium-based batteries, which should be stored in temperatures between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit. You might not always be able to keep tabs on that sweet spot, so to make things a bit simpler, room temperature is fine.
That being said, there are a few ways you can make sure your laptop isn’t constantly having menopausal hot flashes. You should start by minding its air vents. Most MacBook vents are located on the back of the laptop, near the top of the computer. Whenever you prop your laptop up on your bed, couch or lap, you’re likely blocking the airflow. This, in turn, causes the computer to overheat. And overheating will screw up your battery life.
That’s not to say you should be completely paranoid about keeping it on flat, cool surfaces all the time. But maybe consider moving it to a desk before you fall asleep or head to work.
3. Update, update, update.
Most companies are constantly looking for ways to improve battery life via software updates. In fact, it was one of the main things Apple touted in its OS X Mavericks release last year. You may fear change, but change can extend your battery life. So make sure you have the latest software installed on your computer.
4. Don’t just leave it there.
Maybe you’re in trouble with the law and need to disappear for six months. We understand how these things go. But that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook for correctly storing your computer. You should store it with a 50 percent charge in a consistently cool area. Storing the computer with a fully discharged battery might ruin the battery forever. And storing it with an absolutely full charge might cut the battery’s lifespan short.
Simple enough? Now go, be a better laptop owner. Your machine is counting on you.