Should I run my laptop battery down?

My laptop is plugged into the electric socket all the time. If I move it to another part of the house, I plug it in. I’ve been thinking of getting a Mac the next time I need to upgrade (not for several months yet, I think) and one of the points mentioned when I’ve asked friends, “what’s so great about a Mac?” is the longer battery life.

So, yesterday I unplugged my computer, just to see how long it’d last without AC current and I got the ‘you’ve got only 5% battery life left’ message after about an hour, which I thought was a bit soon.

Should I have been regularly depleting my battery? Does this practice do anything to extend the life of the battery or does it make no difference?

And, bonus question, should I make my next laptop purchase a Mac? If so, why? And if so, should I get a Macbook, Mac Air or Macbook Pro?

You haven’t told us anything at all about the battery specs or the laptop. Is it safe to assume it’s a lithium ion battery?

Generally, as I understand it, keeping a lithium battery charged up to 100% all the time is considered to be the best practice for battery care.

With my last laptop I did the same thing and ruined the battery. Being charged in all the time somehow destroyed the battery and it would no longer hold a charge. With my new laptop I leave it plugged in most of the time, but if the battery is fully charged I take it out. The laptop will have power without a battery installed. That way the battery won’t go bad from being plugged in all the time.

No, not generally. The whole “run the battery down every so often” came from a specific type of Nickel-cadmium cell which did experience voltage depression, i.e. the dreaded memory effect. But most NiCd, NiMH and LiIon/LiPoly cells do not have any “memory.”

the simple fact is that Lithium ion cells have a finite lifetime regardless of use. you can kind of extend that life by storing them at 40-60% charge in the refrigerator, but they’ll still eventually die.

Modern Mac laptops have the battery life they do because they’ve moved to Li-Poly batteries and built them into the system. Not making allowances for regular swapping means they can use a larger battery and thus improve battery life.

Yeah, sorry. I don’t know what sort of battery it is. I suspect Li. I’m one of those old fogey types who just wants to turn stuff on and have it work. Hence the musing about getting a Mac, which, by all accounts, is less likely to stuff up than a PC.

I can’t believe I can get only a hour from this machine before it runs out of battery. Not that I’ve ever really needed it because it’s permanently plugged in but there may come a time when I need the battery to actually run the thing.

And if I could work out how to use that cool, multi-quote thingy, I wouldn’t need to respond three separate times. Sorry.

OK. So the battery is just running out because it’s old. I’ve only had this laptop for eighteen months, so I may just make my next purchase a Mac.

Click that little icon next to the quote icon that has the quotation mark and the plus sign on it for every post you want to quote at the same time.

This is my personal experience only, but I had a Dell Inspiron 1501 that started having battery problems about a year after I bought the thing. You’d have to jiggle the cord to get the battery to even charge at all, and then it started only holding about an hour’s worth of charge. I finally replaced the battery after about two years, and even the new battery would only give me about 1.5 hours before dying. And then I’d have to do the “jiggle the cord” thing to get it to recharge. The thing was basically unusable when not plugged in.

Bought a MacBook Pro a few months ago, and I routinely get 5 hours off a full charge. And there is no jiggling the cord. I also like the MBP quite a bit for a variety of other reasons, but the battery situation in particular is a huge improvement. Caveat, that’s vs. a computer that was four years old, so the age is definitely a factor in addition to the PC vs. Mac thing. But I’m quite happy with the MBP.

Oh and then click “post reply” like normal.

I’d kill for a longer edit window.

Heat also destroys batteries, that’s why keeping them refrigerated when not in use helps prolong their life. Most laptops get pretty hot so having the battery in all the time will reduce it’s lifetime.

Personally I almost never use my laptop away from a wall socket so I keep my battery in a drawer. I also leave it at about 40% charge which is something I found recommended on some big PC maker’s website once.

Maybe your cord/power brick was faulty.

Maybe. I contacted Dell about it and they claimed it wasn’t covered under the warranty, so I just put up with it.

I’ve only ever had two laptops and have never been able to get near the manufacturers stated battery lasting times for either.

Thanks for the info about multi quoting but I clicked all the quote + buttons but the quotes themselves don’t seem to be appearing in the reply box.

My battery is in the computer all the time; it would never occur to me to put it in the 'fridge.

MsWhatsit, the Apple people are telling me I should get about seven hours with a new Macbook Pro. Sounds like heaven on a stick.

I’m still tossing up whether I should just get a Macbook Air for the lightness and portability. I think I’ll deliberate for a while longer before deciding.

Well, I have a 15" MacBook Pro, and it’s quite slim and lightweight. I take it to the coffeeshop with me all the time to get work done there, and carrying it around is no problem at all. Also, waking it up from sleep is a simple matter of opening the lid and waiting a couple of seconds for it to wake, as opposed to the minutes-long process of un-hibernating my PC that I used to have to go through. Personally I’d go with the MBP just for the nicer specs, but that’s me. The MacBook Air does look nice.

I’m leaning towards the MacBook Pro. Probably the 15" one because I wouldn’t like to step down too far from the screen size I’m using now. The MacBook Air has the enormous attraction of lightness but I don’t really take the computer anywhere now, so I think I’d be trading off the extra features of the Pro for something I probably don’t need.

Let’s also take into account that different tasks can be more power intensive and drain your battery faster. If I’m just reading message boards with the screen set to a lower brightness, my battery will last a couple of hours, but if I’m playing a dvd or something it will be considerably less.

I don’t watch DVDs on the computer, wolf. Messageboards, Facebook and email are about it. Heaven help me if I tried to watch a DVD on this machine. I think I’d be lucky to get 10 minutes.

When you’re deciding between Macs, the MacBook Air is quite a luxury purchase simlpy because, as **MsWhatsit **says, the MacBook Pro is extremely light too. I’m always amazed when I pick up even a new non-Mac laptop and am reminded how big and bulky they are.

I’m not putting down the MacBook Air because it’s a really beautiful product, just putting in my vote that you should trust your instinct and get a MacBook Pro. It’s a really nice light product.

Also, I’ve never had a laptop smaller than 15 inches but I’ve known a lot of people over the years who had 13 inch MacBooks or (more recently) the 13 inch MacBook Pro and they were really happy with the size. If you could stand the screen size it’d be another way to get a lighter smaller laptop.

Finally, since you were asking about batteries in general - you could absolutely not run your new Mac’s battery down. They’re not intended to be drained completely and there is no benefit to it. Apple has a page on batteries somewhere that confirms their batteries aren’t helped by this.