How to tell if your laptop battery is dying

Do you have a hunch that your laptop battery may be dying or dead? There are a few ways to check and see if the battery is long gone or if it’s in need of replacement. 

A sudden shutdown without any warning is an indication that your battery has died and is in need of replacement. A battery that doesn’t charge all the way may be an indication that the battery is beginning to fail. Calibrating your battery is always a good idea when these problems begin to occur; calibration can give you a better idea of what your battery health is and aid in determining whether or not it is time to replace it.

In this article we will cover how to know when your laptop battery is dead, how to check its health and test its charge, and when it’s time to think about replacing it.

Is the battery dead?

First, some may think it’d be fairly easy to see if your laptop battery is dead. If it’s dead, your laptop wouldn’t come on, right? Wrong! If you’re like me and keep your laptop plugged in most of the time, you may not be able to see that your battery is dying or even dead. 

Your laptop runs on AC power when it is plugged in, not the battery. So, even if your battery is dead, your laptop will still function so long as it’s plugged in.

..your battery is dead will come if you try to unplug your laptop and it immediately dies without warning…

The indication that your battery is dead will come if you try to unplug your laptop and it immediately dies without warning. Sorry to tell you, but your battery has passed on. At this point, there really isn’t a way to fix it. Just go to your laptop manufacturer’s website (if you have a warranty on your laptop) or good old Amazon and get yourself a shiny, new battery. 

Also remember that batteries aren’t meant to last forever, they’re meant to be used. So, at some point your laptop battery will start to fail and it will die. 

This is where having a warranty on your laptop comes in handy. The warranty on my Asus Ultrabook came with one free battery replacement in the first two years. Near the end of my warranty, the battery was still fine but I wanted to take advantage of the offer so I ordered the battery from Asus. Moral of the story: you paid for the warranty, use it!

Is the battery dying?

Now, if you’re one of the lucky ones and your battery hasn’t bit the dust yet, there are ways to check and see if your battery is on the way out. Click the battery icon in your taskbar (Windows) while your laptop is plugged in. If you see the battery has only charged up part of the way and is no longer charging, this is a decent indication that something is going on with your battery.

The very first thing you should do is calibrate your battery. Quite simply, calibration means allowing your laptop battery to discharge almost completely and then charge it back up again. This allows your battery to reset and do some self-diagnosis to see how much juice is actually left in your battery.

Battery calibration is a routine, diagnostic test that should be performed relatively often to ensure the health of your laptop battery. Don’t worry if you’ve never done it before, now you know!

In some laptops, the manufacturer has included a utility to calibrate your battery for you. Check the manufacturer’s website for the manual for your laptop and see if you have this utility. If you do, simply allow this utility to calibrate your laptop for you. It takes some time (nearly 3 hours for my laptop) so don’t be alarmed.

Calibrate your battery

For those of you who don’t have a special utility, you can calibrate your battery yourself following these steps.

1. Plug your laptop in and charge it to 100% (or whenever your laptop says the battery is no longer charging).

2. While your laptop is doing it’s thing, it’s time to change some settings.

  • Open Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Power Options > Edit Plan Settings
  • Set both Screen and Sleep settings to “Never” when on battery power
ps-alt

Note: This ensures that your laptop won’t go into any power saving functions while your battery discharges. We want that to happen because we want a good report of how your battery runs down.

3. Open Control Panel > Hardware & Sound > Power Options > Edit Plan Settings

  • Click ‘Change advanced power settings’
advanced-settings
  • Scroll down to ‘Battery’ and expand the dropdown
  • Open ‘Critical battery action’, ensure that ‘On Battery’ is set to ‘Hibernate’
  • Open ‘Critical battery level’, lower it to as low as you can (normally 5%)
critical-settings

Note: These changes mean that your laptop will hibernate when it reaches 5%.

4. Now, once your laptop has reached full power, let it cool down for an hour or two.

5. Unplug it and let it run down to 5% or whatever level you changed it to in step 3d.

Note: You can use your laptop normally during this time.

6. Once it’s hibernating, leave it alone for 3 to 5 hours.

7. Plug it back in and charge it to full.

8. Change power settings back to desired amounts.

After following these steps, you may find that your laptop has charged all the way back up to 100%. If so, that’s great! Your battery is fine. It just needed to reset. 

If not, continue reading and we’ll show you what you can do next.

Run a battery information report

If your laptop is still not showing you accurate battery information, there are a few steps you can take to test your battery further to see if it is truly time to replace it. Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t come with a way to show you what your battery capacity is compared to the capacity it is designed for. Luckily, there is a third party software available to do this. The best part? It’s free (and absolutely clean)!

You can use BatteryInfoView (scroll to Feedback, towards the bottom of the page to download). Read the instructions and run the executable. This allows you to check what your battery’s manufactured capacity was intended to be against what your battery capacity is now.

The most important settings to view are ‘Full Charged Capacity’ which shows the amount your battery charges up to until it stops, ‘Designed Capacity’ which shows the amount your battery was designed to charge to, and ‘Battery Health’ which gives you a percentage based on those values. If your battery is in the upper 80s, 90s or at 100, your battery is at a pretty normal level.

batteryinfoview

Compare your results with how long you’ve had the laptop, of course. If you just bought your laptop and it is showing a percentage lower than 90, you should probably call the manufacturer to see what’s up. But if you’ve had the laptop for a couple years and it’s reporting in the 80s (like mine), you’re battery is depleting with age and use, as it is designed to do, in which case, there’s not much to worry about until it gets lower.

..reporting a battery health of less than 70 (and you’ve already calibrated your battery), it may be time to consider replacing it… 

If you’re reporting a battery health of less than 70 (and you’ve already calibrated your battery), it may be time to consider replacing it. 

What now?

Check your warranty to see if you have a replacement available for free or look online to buy your laptop battery replacement. Depending on your laptop, batteries can be relatively cheap. Most decent replacements are around $20 or less.

Make sure, if you’re looking online, that the battery you find matches the model of your laptop exactly; I’ve learned the hard way on that one and purchased a battery that did not work with my laptop.

Take care of your battery

If you take good care of your battery, you can extend its life. Follow your laptop’s recommended power settings, especially when it is off the charger. Keep your battery as cool as you can while in use or consider getting a cooling pad. Calibrate your battery once every six months or so to see how your battery is doing and keep tabs on it using BatteryInfoView. 

Batteries will eventually die, even when they are cared for properly. It can be frustrating when your laptop dies suddenly because of the battery. By following the steps outlined above, you can get a good idea of how your battery is doing and when you’ll need to replace it and avoid any infuriating shutdowns.

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