Sunday, October 30, 2011

Battery Life Problems on Laptops with Windows 7

The message shows up on your laptop: “Consider replacing your battery. There is a problem with your battery, so your computer might shut down suddenly.” You upgraded your laptop from XP or Vista to Windows7. You know that the battery is good. But now you are getting this error message. What do you do?
Microsoft has acknowledged the problem and are working on a solution. Although Microsoft has reported selling some 60 millions Windows 7 licenses, certainly a hit from any standard. A google search shows over 73,000 hits for the “consider replacing your battery” search spec. There is certainly a problem with the battery and Windows7.
Some of the suggestions for repair center on upgrading the BIOS. And while some users at a Windows7 forum have tried that, they continue to report that the problem has not gone away.
How serious is the problem?
The most common complaint seems to be that battery life which used to last between 1.5 hours and 2 hours, is now less that 30 minutes. Some users at the forum are down to 15 minutes of battery life time.
Indeed, some users have complained that their batteries have been permanently damaged by the drainage problems.
Other problems reported are that the laptop will suddenly go into hibernate mode without warning.
A Work Around
It could help to avoid automatic switching off and keep the information about battery charge:
Setup Critical battery action to ‘Do Nothing’.  Use the powercfg.exe tool. Essentially change the settings  to “do nothing.” Here is how to do that:
  • Activate the power scheme you want to modify.
  • Open an elevated command console (windows key, type ‘cmd’ in start menu, press “ctrl+shift+enter”, click ‘continue’)
  • Execute “powercfg -setdcvalueindex SCHEME_CURRENT SUB_BATTERY BATACTIONCRIT 0″
  • Your current power scheme will show “Battery->Critical battery action->On battery: Do nothing” despite the option being unavailable in the drop box.
Note that this workaround is not a solution. Your battery drainage will still occur, but the messages will not appear.
Another possible work around solution: Calibrate the Battery

Another way to address this issue is to pursue the following strategy: completely drain the laptop and attach the A/C adapter to replenish the battery system.
  1. Fully Charged Up the Laptop Battery to 100 % , then unplugged power cable, and I let the battery drain. Upon reaching 99 % drainage you will start to get the message … consider replacing….
  2. When the battery is fully drained, laptop goes into hibernate. Power it back on but then it shutdowns completely.
  3. Checked Bios to confirm if there was any power was left; it had 2 % left.
  4. Wait 15 minutes to completely drain the laptop of any battery power and confirm that it can not be powered on.
  5. Remove the battery; then in this condition while the battery is out press the power button this will drain the system of any power left in the laptop.
  6. At this stage the laptop should be fully drained now.
  7. Plug in the A/C adapter cable to the laptop and wait 5 minutes. Power up the laptop.
  8. Under this process while charging the laptop you should not get the error message.
This process should allow you to restore your battery to it’s optimum level.
Source of the Problem
The laptop drainage issue dates back several months, to the Windows 7 beta. But many others state that the problem became more visible until the final “release to manufacturing” (RTM) build. This change in behavior happened when Windows7 went from an RC to RTM.
Microsoft’s Response
Microsoft has acknowledged the issue, saying it’s related to the way Windows 7 reads system firmware. “We are investigating this issue in conjunction with our hardware partners. The warning received in Windows 7 uses firmware information to determine if battery replacement is needed. We are working with our partners to determine the root cause and will update the [Technet] forum with information and guidance as it becomes available.”

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