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  • New laptops prompt new concerns

    Posted on Tracey Capen Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody blog New laptops prompt new concerns

    This topic contains 17 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  OscarCP 2 months, 1 week ago.

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    • #2019995 Reply

      Tracey Capen
      AskWoody MVP

      LANGALIST By Fred Langa Newly purchased PCs are raising some interesting hardware and warranty questions among users. Here are three examples from Lan
      [See the full post at: New laptops prompt new concerns]

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #2020369 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      I am curious about Langa’s “keep the battery always between 20% to 80% charged” rule for best battery maintenance.

      I have not come across this idea before. The advice I have encountered repeatedly and have followed for years without incident is: ‘keep it charged, but discharge (in my own interpretation) to 15% or so, now and then.’

      Of course, a good question, now it occurs to me, is: what does it mean ‘keep it charged’ here? Is it the same as ‘keep it always plugged to an electrical power outlet’? Or could it be the same as ‘don’t let it discharge beyond a certain point’?

      My own interpretation has always been the latter. Only once, in decades, I’ve had to change a battery and that was after seven years of pretty frequent use of my Windows 7 PC.

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

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      • #2020379 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        E. What is ‘Memory Effect’? Does it apply to rechargeable batteries?

        Memory effect occurs when a rechargeable battery is charged before its’ capacity is completely drained. The battery may then ‘memorise’ the last discharge level and only accept that amount of charge in subsequent charges, therefore decreasing the capacity it will recharge to and reducing its service time. However with advances in rechargeable technology this problem has been virtually eradicated in modern NiMH rechargeable batteries.

    • #2020374 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Of course, a good question, now it occurs to me, is: “what does it mean ‘keep it charged’ “? Is it the same as ‘keep it always plugged to an electrical power outlet’? Or could it be the same as ‘don’t let it discharge beyond a certain point’?

      Beats me,
      I think that not to keep the laptop plugged-in the power-outlet , minimizes the chance that the battery catches fire…. at least that’s what manufacturers are afraid of.
      Do I UN-plug? Most of the times not, easy and lazy; sorry

      After all.. Just because we're paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get us.
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      • #2020384 Reply

        AskWoody Plus

        To clarify my previous statement: My PC is a portable that I plug just before booting up and unplug, off the wall socket, just after I shut it down, at the end of an usually extended daily session. It is never plugged in when not in use.

        “Catching fire” used to be a good reason to keep it unplugged as much as possible and maybe still is. Although never, in decades of using Windows and Mac PCs, have I had to summon the fire brigade for this or any other reason, so far.

        Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

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    • #2020389 Reply

      AskWoody MVP

      My Dell Latitude E5420 is 2011 vintage.  It was a workhorse several years until I retired.  I worked from a truck, always carried the charger with me.  I usually plugged it into the charger before lunch, and left it on charge.  At the end of the day I took it from my truck to the office where I docked it and finished up my reporting for the day, then off the dock and in the case for the ride home.

      At home I have a dock, and that is where it stays parked, signed out and on charge.  I replaced the battery a couple of years ago for about $60.  I’m not concerned about a maintaining a 20% – 80% charge level in the least.

      Create a fresh drive image before making system changes/Windows updates, in case you need to start over!
      "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns
      "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware

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    • #2020403 Reply


      My biggest concern with new laptops is that more and more of them have batteries that can not be removed or changed out easily by the end user. So I’ll avoid any laptop that comes with a glued in battery, and ditto for the SSD and memory that’s soldered to the Motherboard on some offerings.

      Batteries especially have issues that can leave Laptops unusable for safety reasons if the entire device has to be taken in to be serviced instead of a replacement battery shipped and the end user able remove the battery and plug in their laptop and still use it.

      Laptops are becoming more a racket and less of a productive tool over the last 7 years since that thin and light design mantra took over.

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    • #2020463 Reply


      i read this article with interest.  it makes sense, as my DJI drone batteries are also supposed to be stored at 20-80%

      my question… is there a Win 10 app that will monitor and keep the battery in the desired range while the computer is in sleep mode and plugged in?

      or is the only option that the battery will charge to 100% and stay there unless it is unplugged?

      seems like there should be a way to override the full charge scenario on the software side.

      • #2020471 Reply


        i guess i’ll answer my own question… yes.  for dell, lenova, and asus laptops, there is built in software that let’s you customize the limits for starting and stopping charging while plugged in.  i assume the same for other brands.

        i search for “dell” and “battery limiter” on google and found out how to set it up.  it only allowed the lower limit to be 50%, so i went with 50% start charging and 75% stop charging.

    • #2020483 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      To add to the merry confusion, here is a Web page from a Mac discussion group. The consensus about keeping between 20% and 8o% charged seems to be an unanimous: Meh!

      There is also the advice of not to charge the Mac when it (the Mac) is cold.

      Edited for off topic content.

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

    • #2020503 Reply

      More confusion:

      I’ve followed the 20%-100% (yes, 100%) rule for a long time with this laptop and with cellphones, as our grid out here is truly miserable; local circuits are 70+ years old (thank you, SoCal Edison), circuit blackouts are frequent, and I want my devices to charge to 100% when I hit the rack at night; that way I start the day with a 100% charge. Frankly, I like to keep them all up, so I tend to run the laptop down to maybe 50-60% in the day, and then charge it up all the way. If I’m going to watch a movie or use it the rest of the evening, I’ll just keep it plugged in to the AC.

      Dell has an option in the BIOS called “Adaptive Charging”, a confusing term that says it “Adapts to the way you use your laptop.” All I’ve seen is a throttle-back from full charge to a “finishing charge” starting at 90% and taking a decent period to do the last 10%.

      Would this avoid the “most damage done in the last 10%” meme making the rounds now?

      There’s SO many opinions!!

      If I run out of charge before completing a task, I plug the laptop into the A/C  adapter “Brick” and continue to work. “The Brick” gets a bit warm, since it’s having to run the laptop and charge the batt at the same time, but it never gets above 107F surface temp, which is well within the old maxim that no part should get hotter than about 120F, of “too hot to touch” Anyway, the manual says you can do this with no problem.

      Side note: My last Dell batt was OEM (I just replaced it), was 5 years old, and had 1100+ “cycles” on it. Most of those cycles were partials, as I tend to wrap up my PC use around 40-60% of charge. We’ll see how the new Chinese middle of the line ($40) model holds up.

      More grist for the mill, like it needed it.

      Win7 Pro SP1 64-bit, Dell Latitude E6330, Intel CORE i5 "Ivy Bridge", Group "Wait for the all-clear", Multiple Air-Gapped backup drives in different locations, "Don't check for updates-Full Manual Mode. ESU 1 yr."
      "...All the people, all the time..." (Peter Ustinov ad-lib from "Logan's Run")

      • #2020625 Reply


        i wonder if the main issue is KEEPING the battery at 100% for extended periods.  that was the case with my drone batteries.  if the drone wasn’t being used, the recommendation was to keep the batteries at 20-60%.

        so it is not using the laptop and recharging the battery per se…. that is what they were made for.  it is leaving them @ full charge b/c the laptop is plugged in most of the time.

        and good to see Dell batteries seem to have a pretty reasonable lifespan.

    • #2020511 Reply

      AskWoody Lounger

      There is also the advice of not to charge the Mac when it (the Mac) is cold.

      Well yes, this one is very real. Many battery types have nasty failure modes if charged when the chemicals inside are in the wrong phase (say solid instead if liquid, or wrong type of crystalline) and that is where the temperature comes in, “too cold” being even as warm as 5 degrees C in some cases.

      There was a bit of news at some point, Apple did attempt to refuse to fix some devices under warranty in Norway after battery faults (at least one catching fire) due to “charging when too cold”, in the car after a walk, and got slapped down by the local consumer protection regulations… devices sold to consumers around 70 N and normal winter conditions in the area, etc.

      Apparently, Apple would’ve had a case if the device had been imported, or if it’d been sold to a business instead of a consumer.

    • #2020530 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      The 20-80% battery charging is just nonsense.
      I used a Lenovo Thinkpad 31p with XP always on charge at 100% for 13 years. Switched batteries only twice.
      I used a Lenovo Y520 Windows 7 for 6 years always on charge at 100%.
      Both with no harm done.
      My current Lenovo Y530 Windows 10 is also on charge at 100% for the last 1.5 years.

      I charge my Apple Watch, iPhone, iPad to 100% and recharge when needed, some times at 10%.

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    • #2020780 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      Enterprise laptops from HP and others do not charge the battery when the current charge level is at or above 95%, thus preventing unneeded charge discharge cycles. The power supply logic on the motherboards allow operation without using the battery if the correct charger is used (if a smaller charger is used on a laptop which needs a larger capacity charger, then battery can be used for peak draw). Batteries, particularly Li-Ion are rated by capacity and charge-discharge full cycles. Here, you get what you pay for. Typical cells can be spec’d to handle 300-500 cycles for typical cells. Some premium cells can be spec’d for more cycles, but the cost is commensurate with this increased capability. I’ve used specific cells rated at 800 charge cycles for some communication devices. You typically do not find these numbers published, but only through a battery supplier will the information be provided, and with a non-disclosure required. At the rated charge cycle count, the capacity of the cell is reduced by 50%. At 1600 cycles, this cell was considered end-of-life as it will only run the capacity load for a few minutes. Extend the same numbers to the less expensive battery packs and you might find it expired after 600 charge discharge cycles. Not all battery packs keep track of this, Dell battery self test would give you a rough estimate with 5 leds to let you know how good the battery was. (press once for current charge, hold down for battery quality)

      You can reach the cycle count in any number of ways, 500 full cycles could also be 1000 half cycles. Sometimes the trickle charge to reach the 95 – 100% might not incur the full cost of the recharge, this is why Prius motion batteries might keep working 8-10 years beyond what was expected for NiCd battery packs – only a fraction of the pack capacity was used and there are extensive temperature controls and battery pack warming coils to keep the pack within temperature extremes. Same principle applies to Li-Ion packs. They can’t be charged hot (after serious draining), nor should they be charged when when very cold. This battery pack on an old HP/Compaq 6910P dates from before 2013 when I purchased it refurbished, but still has more than 70% capacity due the the HP power charge logic. If you want to see if your laptop has logic like this, run the laptop from 100% down to 97% charge and then plug in the charger. If it does not charge and does not diminish further, then there is a battery charge hysteresis factor in play and the laptop is running on  the power supplied by the power adapter. This limits the charge discharge cycles for maximum battery life. These laptops can be left plugged in with no detriment to the battery pack.  I rarely see this option on consumer grade laptops which charge batteries to 100% and may trickle charge beyond this. By always charging/topping off the battery, the charge discharge cycles increase. Those batteries typically need replacement just past the warranty period or 3 years, whichever comes first.

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    • #2020782 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      One other item of note: LI-ION batteries should never be short circuited nor completely discharged. Most systems with LI-ION battery packs have a built in threshold to shut down the device when the battery minimum voltage per cell is reached. Discharging past this point is detrimental to the charge capacity, sometimes resulting in a reduction of 50% of the total capacity. This number depends on battery chemistry and physical cell design, so your mileage might vary. Never deplete your battery all the way down, to do so risks ever getting back the original capacity of the battery.

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    • #2020792 Reply


      Throwing my 2 cents in:

      Legacy Nickle Cadmium (NiCad) batteries were notorious for developing a “memory effect” if you didn’t fully charge and discharge the batteries. For some reason,  I’m thinking the initial charge/discharge cycle was most critical,  but in general you wanted to always fully charge before using and fully discharge before recharging. If you didn’t fully charge, the (less than full charge level) you did charge to would effectively become the batteries new maximum capacity and the level you discharged to (before charging) to would become the battery’s new “empty” level. So if the NiCad batteries you purchased were advertised to deliver 4 hours of use under a given load and you charged them for 20 minutes (instead of 2 hours or whatever) then you had effectively decreased the capacity of your battery to whatever 20 minutes of charging got you (for all subsequent charges).  And likewise if you didn’t empty the battery and left it charged at say 15%, well that 15% was effectively now the empty level (0%) for subsequent charges.  If you were impatient to charge and discharge, it didn’t take long to destroy your new rechargeable batteries. However, back when NiCad was big, most people using electronics were more technologically minded and so they took care to preserve their investment.

      That was more than 30 years ago and battery technology has advanced a lot.  Ever since Lithium Ion, it seems like batteries like to be regularly used… like your body’s muscles.  If you charge it,  don’t let it sit full/ idle for really long periods of time and if it’s empty,  don’t let it sit empty for really long periods of time.

      Even in 2019, with the latest battery technology on my phone and laptop,  I still subscribe to the idea and practice fully charging my battery and fully draining it before recharging. While Lithium ion et al of today are significantly better than NiCad, I still believe that full cycle charge/discharge and regularly using those muscles–err batteries, is still the best approach.

      (Note that leaving your battery on the charger for long periods/days at a time isn’t exercising that laptop/phone battery)

      I often purchase the same smartphones and laptop hardware for me and others and despite my significantly heavier use of the devices than the others,  my batteries prove time and time again to be far superior in capacity (over time for the same hardware/battery configuration) than those used by my peers and I attribute that fully to my approach to using batteries.


      Eventually  any battery will need to be replaced as it ages  but you can definitely extend its life by years with proper usage patterns.

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    • #2020821 Reply

      AskWoody Plus

      While I have not been able to find an unequivocal answer, looking around the Web, to the question: “is it OK to have a Mac plugged in and charging all the time while one is using it and keep it unplugged while not in use? (as I have always used my Macs and PCs for many years with no related battery trouble, so far, but what do I know?) have found, instead, this page with general advice concerning the use of (at least) the newer MacBook Pro laptops that others here might find helpful whether they use Macs or not:

      Windows 7 Professional, SP1, x64 Group B & macOS + Linux (Mint) => Win7 Group W + Mac&Lx

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