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Power failures and notebooks:How to extend your working life

South African businesses have become accustomed to country-wide power cuts as Eskom attempts to reduce demand on the national grid. Even a laptop computer is no longer good enough to keep the computer-dependent going. Nadia Hufkie, HP SA’s Country Category Manager for its Personal Systems Group, offers advice on extending your working hours on a notebook computer.

Nadia HufkieWith the proliferation of mobile computing, many businesses are reliant on notebook PCs to conduct their daily work. However, with power cuts occurring at random times, notebook users often find themselves with a battery that dies – bringing work abruptly to a halt.

The current situation is obviously hampering the productivity of South Africa’s mobile workforce. There are, however, simple actions – as well as new innovations – that users can take advantage of to help their batteries last longer and stay productive.

1. Disable or disconnect: Peripheral devices can drain a notebook’s battery life, even when they are not in active use. Disabling or turning off external hard drives, DVDs, USB devices, wireless cards and other accessories when they are not needed can help reduce the power needed to load and run them every time the PC is started.

2. Dim it down: One of a notebook’s biggest energy drainers is its screen. Most HP notebooks are equipped with Ambient Light Sensors, which automatically dim the screen in bright light. This prevents eye strain and can save as much as an extra hour of runtime. Other notebooks should have similar functions.

3. Manage your power: The power management utility of your notebook lets you set when your notebook goes into hibernation in Windows XP or the new sleep mode in Windows Vista.

4. Keep your cool: Notebook batteries should be used and stored at room temperature. Extreme temperatures can take a toll on battery life, causing irreversible capacity loss over time.

5. Take charge: New batteries should be fully charged and discharged the first few times they are used. This tells a battery’s ‘memory’ exactly how much charge it can hold. If your battery is not going to be used for more than two weeks, it should be removed from your notebook.

6. Give your battery a check-up: The Battery Check is a tool that tests the health of a notebook battery to ensure that everything is working properly. Windows XP users can download and install the utility while Windows Vista users can launch the tool from the Help and Support menu.

7. Carry a back-up: Busy mobile professionals may find it necessary to carry a spare, or purchase a second battery.

2 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Mwamba Chishimba

    Thank you for these simple and yet overlooked tips. We are experiencing severe power outages in Zambia.Tips like these couldn’t come at a better time than now when power outages are becomig the order of the day.

  2. Hassan Hamadu

    Free power, that’s what i call this.Thanks for the share Chrishimba.


The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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