From the Kenosha News on 7-29-07

Use hibernate and other power tips to extend battery life

If you have a laptop computer, getting the most from your battery can be important.  While many systems these days say they have “all day computing” power – about 6 hours of battery life – most batteries don’t last nearly that long.  Between the two laptops that I commonly use – an Apple iBook and a Lenovo (IBM) Thinkpad, the Apple’s battery lasts considerably longer – sometimes over 5 hours.

To conserve power during shorter idle times, you can change the power settings on your computer to have it switch to a sleep or hibernate mode after a shorter delay. A laptop usually has two different power settings: one for when it’s plugged in and one for when it’s using battery power. Typically, a laptop should be set to conserve more power when on battery to make the battery last longer. To change the power settings, click the Start button and go to Control Panel. If you’re in category view in XP, click Performance and Maintenance. Then click Power Options. On the Power Schemes tab, select the time settings that you prefer and click OK.  I like to select “Never” for all the items under “Plugged in.”  Under “Running on Batteries,” I have it turn off my display after 10 minutes and my hard disks after 15.  I then tell it to never go to standby but to hibernate after 15 minutes.  Click Apply when you have made your changes.

Also within the Power Options, you can opt to have the power meter on your taskbar in the lower right corner of your screen.  To do this, click the Advanced tab, then check the box next to “Always show icon on the taskbar.”  Click Apply when you are finished.  The icon on the taskbar will look like an electrical plug when your computer is plugged in and like a battery when it is not.  If you float your mouse pointer over it, it will show the percentage and amount of time left on the battery.

You can specify low battery alarms within the Power Options by clicking on the Alarms tab and using the sliders to set the percentage of the battery left at which point an alarm will sound and display on the screen.  Remember to click Apply after any changes you make.

“Hibernation” is one of my favorite recent discoveries.  Rather than turning off my computer between uses, I tell it to hibernate.  On my Lenovo computer, I do this by pressing Function-F4; it’s the option with the moon icon on the key.  This saves everything in exactly the state it’s in, and then does the equivalent of a shut-down.  While it’s hibernating, it uses no power.  When I press the power key to “wake it up,” everything comes back to where I left off, and the start-up takes considerably less time. 

CORRECTION:  In last week’s column, I gave a web address of freeannualcreditreport.org as the web site for a free credit report.  The correct address for this site is annualcreditreport.com.  Sorry for any inconvenience.

by Carol Sabbar from the Kenosha News on 7-29-07