Luculent Systems » TechBlog https://www.luculentsystems.com Tue, 19 Sep 2017 18:35:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Battery Life Maximizer New Feature: Battery Calibration Assist https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/battery-gauge-calibration/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/battery-gauge-calibration/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2017 17:46:04 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2369

If you have had a laptop for a while, you may have experienced one of the following problems:

  • The remaining capacity of the battery drops from < 20% to almost zero and the laptop shuts down abruptly.
  • The remaining capacity stays at around 10% for hours before the battery empties.

If so, it's probably because your battery's gauge became inaccurate over time and it's time to calibrate.

Why does the gauge become inaccurate?

Even with today's technology, there is no direct way to measure the remaining capacity of the laptop batteries. If you want to read the amount of gas in a tank, you can use a dipstick to “directly” read the value. It may not be 100% accurate, but the error does not accumulate over time. Unfortunately, there is no equivalent method in measuring battery capacity.

Instead of using “direct” information, battery gauges use several “indirect” information to estimate the remaining capacity. One of the commonly used information is the cumulative power put into (charged) and taken out of (discharged) the battery. But these measurements are not 100% accurate and the errors are accumulated as you repeat charge-discharge cycle. In addition, batteries are not 100% efficient, in other words, the amount of the energy you can take out of a battery is a little bit less than the energy you stored and this difference exacerbates the error.

How to calibrate laptop battery?

Basically all you need to do is drain the battery as much as possible. Then, charge the battery to full capacity without interruption (without stop charging, or discharging). After this process, battery gauge knows the capacity of the battery accurately.

Of course, you can do it manually, but it takes cumbersome steps to do it right, such as disabling auto sleep timer, etc. If you miss the steps, your battery may not be fully calibrated or it takes longer time to calibrate.

But don't worry. Starting version 3.5.0, Battery Life Maximzer assists you to calibrate your battery and, as summarized below, it's easy to follow.

Your action Battery Life Maximizer's action
  1. Start calibration from “Tools” page of the Battery Life Maximizer. (Fig. 1)
  • Open a pop-up window at the right-top corner of the display and guide you through the calibration process. (Fig. 2)
  1. Disconnect AC adapter.
  • Adjust system settings suitable for calibration.
  • Start dummy program in the background to discharge battery quickly.
Battery charge level drops low.
  • Stop dummy program to slow down the discharge and drain the battery to the last drop.
Battery drains completely and laptop shuts down.
  1. Connect AC adapter and leave the laptop off.
Battery is fully charged.
  1. Turn on the laptop.
  • Restore system settings for normal operation.
  • Check if the calibration was successful.
Screenshot: Tools page
Fig. 1 - You can start battery gauge calibration from “Tools” page
Screenshot: Battery calibration status dialog box
Fig. 2 - Pop-up window will assist you through the calibration process

FAQs

  1. Does calibration improve battery performance?
  2. No. It only makes the battery gauge reading accurate. It does not improve battery itself.

  3. Does everyone need calibration?
  4. Calibration is recommended only if you need to improve the accurate of battery gauge reading.

    For example, if you always use your laptop on battery for short time (in other word, you always stop using battery while your battery has plenty of remaining capacity), you probably do not care about the inaccuracy. If that is the case, you don't need to calibrate.

  5. Does calibration damage my battery?
  6. One calibration usually does not make noticeable harm, but it still wears your battery a little bit as it goes through one dischage-charge cycle.

  7. How often do I need to calibrate my battery?
  8. You usually do not need to calibrate more than once every couple of months.

  9. The capacity of my battery decreased after the calibration. What has happened?
  10. This is an expected result of the calibration. Battery capacity decreases over time (usually drop to 70~30% of the original capacity after couple of year's use) and battery guage adjusts its calculation during the calibration.

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How to Enable Hardware Video Acceleration for YouTube https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/video-acceleration-for-youtube-in-chrome/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/video-acceleration-for-youtube-in-chrome/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 03:22:59 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2211 This article explains the benefit of video decode hardware acceleration and provides an easy way to enable it for YouTube video on Chrome browser.

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It's been a while since I posted the original article about how hardware video decode acceleration can help you enjoy YouTube videos with minimum battery drain. Although the benefits of using hardware video decode acceleration have not changed, the process by which you enable it has, so now is a great time to provide you with an update.

Benefits of Hardware Video Decode Accelerator

Using a hardware video decode accelerator provides a number of great benefits. In addition to ensuring that you benefit from a longer battery life, which was explained in detail in the original article, you can also:

  • Play high definition video smoothly even on low-performance PCs

    The CPUs that you typically find in cheaper and older PCs don't have much horsepower to offer, and they typically struggle when confronted with high definition (such as 1080p) videos. You will know you have a problem if you see sluggish playback. However, many of those PCs are actually equipped with a hardware video decode accelerator that can handle 1080p without any problem.

  • Use CPU for other tasks while decoding video with the hardware accelerator

    Hardware accelerators manage the video decoding task leaving your CPU free for alternative tasks. This will be useful when you are multi-tasking while watching video.

  • Improved overall experience

    Less battery power consumption means lower temperature and less fan noise. Both of these will undoubtedly improve your video watching experience.

There are many benefits of using a hardware video decode accelerator and virtually no drawbacks.

How to Enable Hardware Video Decode Acceleration

Unfortunately, hardware video decode acceleration is not automatically employed when you watch YouTube videos via the Chrome browser. This is because YouTube sends the video to your browser in Webm format, which most (if not all) PC accelerators cannot decode.

The original article provided a description of how you can manually work around this issue. However, unfortunately the method described no longer works because of recent changes to YouTube and the Chrome browser.

Instead of producing another article about how to manually enable the hardware accelerator, we have improved our Battery Life Maximizer program so that it can take care of the problem automatically. This means that regardless of how many times YouTube and Chrome are updated, your computer will handle videos efficiently and effectively every time.

Here is how to use the new feature:

  1. Install the Battery Life Maximizer (desktop application) to your PC:

    Download the installer package from download page and run it.

  2. Install the extension (plug-in) to your Chrome browser:

    After you have installed the Battery Life Maximizer to your PC, close all Chrome browser windows and re-start a new Chrome browser. You will be presented with a message as per the screen shot below. Simply click on the button and you are done. Battery Life Maximizer will take care of the rest.

    Screenshot: New extension confirmation message

    If you don't see the message displayed on the screenshot above, you can manually install the extension free of charge from the Google Chrome Web Store.

    Note: Please install the extension after installing Battery Life Maximizer, as it will not work properly if you do not have Battery Life Maximizer installed on your PC.

  3. Verify that the hardware video decode acceleration is working (optional):

    For the more inquisitive among you, we have made it really easy to check that the hardware video decode acceleration of actually running. When the Chrome browser is making use of the accelerator, the icon to the right of the address bar changes from ICON while acceleration is not working to ICON while acceleration is working

References

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Battery Life Maximizer 3.0 is released https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/battery-life-30-release/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/battery-life-30-release/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 19:44:52 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2153 Battery Life Maximizer 3.0 is now available for download.

With this release, you can easily predict battery life improvement and get more tools to analyze your laptop.

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We are pleased to announce the new version of Battery Life Maximizer. Here are some of the highlights of version 3.0:

Easier to find out where and how much you can save/wasting battery life

Battery Life Maximizer now shows how much battery life you are loosing because of each problem (or the activity of each program) so that you can easily determine which one to fix.

Screenshot: You can easily see how much impact each problem has

More battery life problem detection and fixes

Battery Life Maximizer can detect and fix more problems than ever including unusually high CPU use by antivirus programs.

More tools for the experts

For those who are curious to explore, new Tools page will give you more insight.

  • Detailed information about your battery.

    This tool displays very detailed information (depends on your laptop and battery's capability) other similar tools do not.

  • The status of Video Decode Hardware Accelerator

    When you watch video on your laptop, it is very important that hardware acceleration be enabled. However, whether the hardware accelerator works or not depends on many factors (video playback application's capability, contents, etc.). This tool will help you to check if it is working quickly and easily.

Screenshot: New Tools page of Battery Life Maximizer 3.0
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Norton high CPU problem after closing Google Chrome https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/norton-high-cpu-problem/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/norton-high-cpu-problem/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:30:09 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2128

Norton antivirus products generally do good job keeping their activities minimum while your laptop is battery powered and help you to get longer battery life. However, many Norton users have been complaining about its high CPU usage after closing Google Chrome.

(You can see more by searching with high cpu after closing google chrome at the Norton Community site ).

All of these problems are happening because Norton (actual program's name varies depending which version of Norton product you have) starts scanning Google Chrome (chrome.exe) soon after it is closed, and stuck in the loop for very long time. This will keep one CPU 100% busy. Therefore, if your laptop has only one logical CPU, it shows 100% usage. If your laptop has 4 logical CPUs (dual-core with hyper threading enabled, for example), it shows 25% usage. In either case, this is a serious problem for battery life (and performance, too) and should be stopped immediately.

As of this writing (September 2014), the cause of this problem is not known and I don't see any valid response from Symantec (the maker of Norton products). But, all reports listed above mention that the problem goes away when Google Chrome is re-opened. Therefore, you can avoid this problem by simply keeping at least one Google Chrome running.

Screenshot: Enable workaround for Norton high CPU problem

It sounds like an easy solution, but if you are used to close web browser tab when you are done with the page, it's actually not so easy to keep browser window open. You can easily forget about this problem and close all Google Chrome windows and remember it after your battery is drained...

Battery Life Maximizer will help you to avoid this problem by simply staring Google Chrome in the background when this problem happens. All you need to do is move the slider and select Start Google Chrome to avoid the problem. Once you choose this setting, Battery Life Maximizer will monitor Norton's activity and, when this problem happens, starts Google Chrome in the background automatically for you.

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How to fix Chrome browser battery life (timer tick) problem https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/how-to-fix-chrome-battery-life-problem/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/how-to-fix-chrome-battery-life-problem/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 09:18:37 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2101 Google Chrome changes timer tick interval while it is running and this behavior drains battery more than it should. This article explains how to fix this problem and extend your laptop's battery life.

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The web browser is now an indispensable application for many people and the majority of us open our browser application of choice as soon as we boot our computer up, and keep it open until we shut the computer down.

For laptop PC users, it is very important that the web browser does not waste battery, both when it is active and when it is idle.

Unfortunately, as Ian Morris mentioned in his blog, Google Chrome for Windows is notorious for wasting battery power when it is idle because it forces a short timer tick interval.

This article explains how to fix this problem and answers several questions you may have about the Chrome timer tick problem.

How to Fix the Chrome Timer Tick Problem

If you are looking for the quick solution for this problem, please just follow the simple instruction below:

  1. Download and install Battery Life Maximizer.
  2. After installing the program, close all Chrome windows that are already open and then open new Chrome window.
  3. Popup message is shown when Battery Life Maximizer detects Chrome trying to change timer tick interval
    Warning pop-up for timer tick change

    Within a minute or two, Battery Life Maximizer will detect the timer tick interval change request from Chrome and a balloon message will pop up.

    By default, Battery Life Maximizer automatically enables the power saving action and therefore fixes the problem for you. You don't need to do anything at all. However, the Chrome window you opened in the previous step was started before the power saving action was enabled. As such, the damage (setting shorter timer tick interval) has already been done at this point. To rectify this, simply close all existing Chrome windows once again and open a new window. Battery Life Maximizer will now automatically takes care of the timer tick interval change requests from Chrome and you can enjoy a longer battery life.

You can also override Battery Life Maximizer's presets if you wish to tailor the tick speed to your own requirements.

Chrome requests a 1.0 msec timer tick interval (1000 timer tick per second, which has significant impact on battery life). By default, Battery Life Maximizer replaces this request with a 10.0 msec interval (100 timer tick per second, which has much less impact on battery life). If you are looking to gain further power savings, you can instruct Battery Life Maximizer to completely ignore Chrome's request and allow Windows to run the timer tick at the default interval, which is 15.6 msec. You can do this by performing the following steps:

  1. Open Battery Life Maximizer window and select “Battery Life Problems” page.
  2. Figure 2. Google Chrome problem listed in the Battery Life Maximizer problem list
    Chrome problem in the problem list

    Expand “Fixed or dismissed problems” group and double click the problem whose “Problem Location” column is “Google Chrome;” to open the detailed dialog box.

  3. You can choose how to handle the timer tick interval change request
    Choose how to handle the request

    In the dialog box, move the slider to choose the option you require. By moving the slider to the bottom (selecting “Ignore request”) as shown below, all timer tick interval change requests from Chrome will be blocked and Windows will not change the timer tick interval.

Timer Tick FAQ

Q1: Why does a short timer tick interval drain laptop battery?

When the CPU is idle (no program to run), it automatically enters a low-power mode. However, the CPU will be activated (exit low-power mode) upon every timer tick in order to check if there is any program to run. If there is nothing to run, it will return to a low-power mode.

Modern CPUs implement multiple levels of low-power modes. When the CPU remains in the low-power mode for a longer duration without interruption, it will go into deeper low-power mode. If an application program, such as Chrome, requests a shorter timer tick interval, the CPU can only ever enter the shallow low-power mode. Put simply, imagine you have a baby that wakes you up every thirty minutes. Your sleep will be much shallower than if you were able to get many hours of uninterrupted sleep. This is exactly what happens to your CPU and, as a direct result, it loses power much more quickly.

Q2: Chrome does not seem to be using much CPU time when it is idle. Is it really draining my battery?

Yes. This problem is not related to how much CPU time Chrome uses, it is concerned with the amount of power the CPU is able to preserve when it is idle. A short timer tick interval activates the CPU more frequently and therefore prevents the CPU from entering deeper power saving mode.

Q3: Is Chrome the only program that changes timer tick interval?

No. There are, unfortunately, many other programs that behave in the same manner. For example, some IP phone applications, which usually keep running in the background waiting for an incoming call, initiate a request to change the timer tick interval when they start up and keep that request until they are terminated (even if you are not making a call).

I won't list the names of those programs here, but you can easily find out which applications are draining your battery power when you run Battery Life Maximizer on your computer.

Q4: Why do programs change timer tick interval and what happens if they are ignored?

High-quality media applications that run with very little buffering (for better real-time response) might need shorter timer tick intervals to avoid glitches.

However, with the majority of regular applications, the difference is subtle and most people will not notice.

Other battery life topics related to web browsing

This article explained how to minimize battery power drain when Chrome is idle.

The following articles explain how to minimize battery power drain when you are actively browsing the web:

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Where can I find the best drivers for my laptop PC? https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/where-can-i-find-the-best-drivers-for-my-laptop/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/where-can-i-find-the-best-drivers-for-my-laptop/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 07:01:54 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2085 Ensuring that you use the correct drivers for the devices built into your laptop is the key to maximizing your laptop's battery life. The good news is that this is relatively easy to do. Here is our quick and simple guide to finding the best drivers for your needs.

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Ensuring that you use the correct drivers for the devices built into your laptop is the key to maximizing your laptop's battery life. The good news is that this is relatively easy to do. Here is our quick and simple guide to finding the best drivers for your needs.

The absence of a yellow bang in the device manager isn't good enough

The appearance of a yellow bang ( yellow bang icon ) in the device manager is a clear sign that something is wrong with that particular device and driver. Some people mistakenly think that if this yellow bang doesn't appear, everything is great. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The absence of a yellow bang basically lets you know that the driver has loaded correctly; it doesn't give you any information at all about how efficient the power to that device is managed.

Screen shot: Device Manager with yellow bang (error)

It takes some analysis to determine if the driver is power optimized or not and it's not generally something that the average user can easily do. That's where Battery Life Maximizer comes in. Battery Life Maximizer automatically assesses the drivers and devices you have installed on your laptop and informs you which drivers need to be updated for you to enjoy better battery life. It really couldn't be simpler.

Screen shot: Battery Life Maximizer found problem with AHCI driver

Failing to install drivers or disabling devices does not increase battery life

It may sound counter intuitive, but leaving a device without a driver installed or disabling a device in the device manager will actually increase power consumption. While the immediate effect may be to put the device in a power-saving state, it will prevent the USB host controller (if the device is a USB device) from entering the power-saving mode.

To maximize the overall power saving, you should install the correct drivers for your devices, even if you don't use that device. This will allow both the device and the host controller to enter the power-saving state when they are not in use.

All drivers are not equal

Drivers are usually created by the company that manufactures the device (such as Intel, AMD and NVIDIA) and installed to each laptop by the system manufacturers (such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard). Many people think that all system manufacturers use exactly the same driver package; however, this is not true. Some system manufacturers do customize the driver package when they install it to their system.

Here is a warning on one of the Intel's driver download pages (many other device manufactures present similar warnings):

These software drivers are generic versions and can be used for general purposes. However, computer original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) may have altered the features, incorporated customizations, or made other changes to the software or software packaging they provide. To avoid any potential installation incompatibilities on your OEM system, Intel recommends that you check with your OEM and use the software provided by your system manufacturer.

Intel and the computer original equipment manufacturer (OEM) may not provide technical support for some or all issues that could arise from the usage of this generic version of software drivers.

What kind of customizations do laptop system manufacturers make?

Laptop system manufacturers may do one or a combination of the following:

  • Enable special features,

    including aggressive power saving and customization for special hardware configurations

  • Create workarounds for known problems associated with drivers

    Reputable system manufacturers thoroughly test each driver before they publish it on their support web site. If they find any problems, they usually incorporate workarounds into their customized driver package.

If you use generic drivers from the device manufacturer, you might miss out on these benefits.

So, what's the best way to ensure that I use the optimal driver for my laptop?

Always use the driver provided by your laptop manufacturer. You should only consider using a driver from an alternative source when your laptop manufacturer doesn't provide one.

It is also recommended that you avoid using the so-called third party Driver Updater programs because these usually use generic driver packages.

How can Battery Life Maxmimzer help you to find the optimal driver for your needs?

As mentioned earlier, Battery Life Maximizer quickly and easily screens your computer and identifies which drivers are not battery optimized.

In addition, starting in Version 2.3, Battery Life Maximizer now helps you to identify, download and install the optimal driver from your system manufacturer's support web site.

Screenshot: Battery Life Maximizer - Driver Install dialog

Battery Life Maximizer currently supports Hewlett-Packard (business model only) and Dell laptops and we are working hard to add additional manufacturers in the near future.

References

5/25/2014 Update: Most of the Toshiba (models sold in the US), Hewlett-Packard, and Dell laptops are supported as of Battery Life Maximizer 2.3.5

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How to minimize battery drain by antivirus software? https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/minimize-battery-drain-by-antivirus-software/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/minimize-battery-drain-by-antivirus-software/#comments Mon, 27 Jan 2014 09:00:17 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2076 This article provides an overview of the leading antivirus software and analyzes how popular antivirus products stack up against each other in terms of battery life. If you already have antivirus software installed on your laptop, this article will also give you valuable information on how to ensure that you minimize the battery drain associated with this application.

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There's a strong chance that your antivirus software is regularly running on your computer. For this reason, it needs to be battery friendly, otherwise you may just find that it acts as a continual drain on your device's power.

This article provides an overview of the leading antivirus software and analyzes how popular antivirus products stack up against each other in terms of battery life. If you already have antivirus software installed on your laptop, this article will also give you valuable information on how to ensure that you minimize the battery drain associated with this application.

How Antivirus Programs Affect Battery Life

Antivirus programs increase power consumption in two ways:

  1. By adding overhead to file access and internet access

    Antivirus programs intercept file and internet access activities and, as a result, increase CPU resource usage when other programs are running. Take a look at the table below. As you can see, some products incur significantly more overhead than others.

    The overhead changes as the workload changes and, more importantly, different antivirus products provide different levels of protection. As such, it isn’t possible to select the best antivirus product from these numbers alone; however, it worth considering them when you choose which product to install on your laptop.

  2. By running file scan when your laptop is battery powered

    Antivirus products usually periodically run automatic file scans to identify infected files. The majority of antivirus products are aware of the power source and avoid scanning files when your laptop is operating from a battery source; however, not all applications do this.

The following table summarizes how each antivirus product increases CPU usage wile browsing through news sites and watching YouTube video (lower number is better). The last column shows if the product stops auto scan when the laptop is running on battery.

Battery friendliness: a comparison of antivirus products
Antivirus Product Overhead Auto Scan
Power Source
Awareness
Web Browsing YouTube Video
avast! Free Antivirus4%12%
Microsoft Security Essentials1%1%*1
AVG AntiVirus Free15%16%
Avira Free Antivirus2%2%
Norton Internet Security1%0%
Kaspersky Internet Security8%7%
avast! Internet Security4%12%

*1Microsoft Security Essentials does not start auto scan in battery mode; however, it does not stop an auto scan if it is already running during the transition to battery mode.

Antivirus Product-Specific Tips

Below you will find some practical tips on how to configure each antivirus product to minimize its impact on the battery.

avast! Free Antivirus / avast! Internet Security

These products do not enable automatic scan by default. However, if you choose to enable it, you should ensure that the scan will not start in battery mode and will pause when the transition to battery mode takes place.

You can configure the setting by using the following procedure:

  1. Open the main window from the start menu or desktop icon,
  2. select Scan in the left pane,
  3. follow the Settings... link,
  4. select Scheduling in the left pane and change the settings according to your requirements.
Screenshot: Avast! Internet Security scan settings

Microsoft Security Essentials

Security Essentials does not start scheduled scans when your laptop is battery powered. However, if the scan starts when your laptop is AC powered, it will not stop or pause when the AC power is removed. To prevent this from draining your battery, you need to carefully consider when you schedule the scan to take place. By default, the scan is set to run at around 2 a.m. every Sunday. If your laptop is off or in sleep mode, it will run as soon as your laptop is powered up.

This means that if you use your laptop with AC power in the morning for a short duration and then switch to a battery source (for example, to check emails at home before hitting the road), the majority of the scan will be run in battery mode. To avoid this, you should schedule the scan to take place when your laptop is most likely to be AC powered for several hours.

You can change the schedule by:

  1. Opening the Security Essentials from the Start menu,
  2. selecting the Settings tab,
  3. selecting Scheduled scan in the left pane,
  4. changing the settings according to your requirements.
Screenshot: Microsoft Security Essential scheduled scan setttings

AVG AntiVirus Free

As scheduled scan is not enabled by default for this product; however, if you choose to enable it, please make sure that you configure the scan in such a way that it will not run in battery mode:

  1. Open the main window from the start menu or desktop icon,
  2. click on the Options pull-down menu that is located in the top-right corner of the window, and select Advanced Settings...,
  3. double click on the Schedules option in the left pane to expand it, and select Scheduled Scan,
  4. unselect Run even if computer is in low-power mode checkbox at the bottom of the right pane.
Screenshot: AVG AntiVirus Free scheduled scan settings

Avira Free Antivirus

Automatic scan is scheduled to run every seven days by default, and it runs even if your laptop is in battery mode. As far as I know, there is no setting to stop the scan from taking place when the laptop is in battery mode.

To avoid the scan from commencing in battery mode, you have two main choices:

  • Disable automatic scan and run manual scan when your laptop is AC powered (not recommended unless you are sure that you will not forget to reinstate the scan), or
  • schedule automatic scan at the time your laptop is most likely to be AC powered.

If you chose the latter, it is probably better to choose a particular time of the week (or day) rather than the default setting that specifies an interval (in which case, the scan may run at different times every time). You can change the schedule using the following procedure:

  1. Open the main window from the start menu or desktop icon,
  2. click on the Scheduler option in the left pane,
  3. select the scan action in the list, and click on the pencil (edit) button and start the wizard,
  4. click on the Next button until you get to the Time of the job page and change the schedule settings according to your needs.
Screenshot: Avira Free Antivirus scan schedule settings

Norton Internet Security

Automatic scan is enabled by default, but the application is configured to run only when your laptop is AC powered. If you see high CPU utilization during battery operation, it's most likely that you have inadvertently changed the default settings. Please check the relevant settings using the following procedure:

  1. Open the main window from start menu or desktop icon,
  2. click on Settings at the top of the window,
  3. select Computer tab,
  4. click on Computer Scan in the left pane,
  5. follow the Configure [+] link in the right pane,
  6. select the Scan Schedule tab and make sure that Only on AC power check box is enabled,
    Screenshot: Norton Internet scan schedule settings
  7. go back to the Settings page (Step 2), and select the General tab,
  8. select the Other Settings option in the left pane and make sure that Power Saving Mode in the right pane is On.
    Screenshot: Norton Internet general settings

Kaspersky Internet Security

Automatic scan is not enabled by default for this product; however, if you choose to enable it, please make sure that the automatic scan will not run when your laptop is in battery mode:

  1. Open the main window from the start menu or desktop icon,
  2. click the Settings link that is located near the bottom-right of the window,
  3. select Performance in the right pane and make sure that Disable scheduled scan tasks while running on battery power checkbox is enabled.
Screenshot: Kaspersky Internet performance settings
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How to fix SVCHOST high CPU usage problem? https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/svchost-high-cpu/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/svchost-high-cpu/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 06:52:41 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2068 You may have noticed that the SVCHOST.EXE process has a high CPU usage that drains your laptop's battery. This article tells you how you can quickly and easily fix the problem.

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You may have noticed that the SVCHOST.EXE process has a high CPU usage that drains your laptop's battery. This article tells you how you can quickly and easily fix the problem.

Screenshot: Multiple SVCHOST processes in TaskManager Multiple SVCHOST processes in TaskManager

What is SVCHOST.EXE?

Before jumping into the details, let me first explain what the SVCHOST.EXE actually is, because having a basic knowledge of this program will help you to understand the action you need to take to prevent this process from draining your battery life.

SVCHOST.EXE is a part of the Windows operating system that hosts various service programs. These programs run in the background and provide functionality that is critical to the performance of the Windows operating system. Every SVCHOST.EXE process hosts one or more services, and there are usually ten to twenty instances of SVCHOST.EXE processes running on one computer at any time.

Usually, these services do not consume a significant amount of CPU time and you generally do not see each SVCHOST.EXE process using in excess of 2% of your total CPU usage. However, occasionally, they do use more CPU usage. SVCHOST.EXE processes may do so for the following reasons:

  1. To perform operations that are critical to the performance of the operating system

    This includes maintaining the network connection and providing functionalities that are critical to the application programs. If you stop these type of activities your computer cannot operate properly and, in some cases, will completely crash.

  2. To perform non-critical work

    Some of the examples of non-critical operations that SVCHOST.EXE will perform are scheduled file backups and regular Windows updates.

    You may want to defer these activities while your laptop is running on a battery.

  3. As the result of a Windows bug

    Many programs have bugs and Windows is no exception. Occasionally, one of the services hosted by SVCHOST.EXE may go out of control and will subsequently consume very high CPU resources. In the event this occurs you need to stop the out of control service as soon as possible to minimize battery drain.

Actions you should never take:

  • Kill the SVCHOST.EXE process.

    As mentioned earlier, one SVCHOST.EXE process usually hosts multiple services. As such, terminating one SVCHOST.EXE process will kill all services hosted by the process and there is a very high chance that this will result in a service that is critical to the operation of your computer being shut down, the end result being that your computer is entirely crippled.

  • Stop one of the services hosted by the SVCHOST.EXE process without knowing which service is responsible for the high CPU usage.

    You may have seen other blog posts that advise you to stop particular services in order to resolve any issues you have with high CPU usage as a result of SVCHOST.EXE. However, as this problem can be caused by any service, blindly assuming that one service in particular is the cause of the problem is not a good idea.

What you should do:

As with most things in life, it's important that you start by finding the cause of the problem and then taking appropriate action to remedy it. In this case, you need to:

  1. Determine which service is responsible for the high CPU usage.
  2. Understand what that service does.
  3. Stop the service if it is safe to do so.

Now all that may sound very complicated but, in reality, it couldn't be simpler to find and fix the problem when you have the right tools. Battery Life Maximizer makes it easy for you to quickly prevent SVCHOST.EXE from draining your battery life in just a few clicks.

Here is how:

  1. Open the Battery Life Maximizer window.

  2. Select the Program Activity page.

  3. Identify the program that is responsible for the high CPU usage by viewing the data presented in the CPU Usage column. It's simple: the higher the percentage listed against a program, the more battery life it is draining. In the screenshot below, Windows Backup and Superfetch are two SVCHOST.EXE services that are using high CPU (9.2% and 4.5% respectively).

    Screenshot: Battery Life Maximizer showing each SVCHOST's service name
    Battery Life Maximizer showing each SVCHOT's service name
  4. Double click on the row that contains the service you wish to look at in more detail.

  5. Read the information in the opened dialog box and decide if it is safe to stop this service. The information provided in the Service Name and Service Description columns will give you a good idea about what the service is doing and the potential impact that terminating it will have.

  6. If you decide to stop the service, all you need to do is hit the Stop Service button in the dialog box and you're done. Simple, isn't it?

If the high CPU use is caused by any service that is critical to the operation of the system, you should not stop that service. However, as an alternative you can try rebooting your laptop. This will usually stop the problem.

This is just one of the potential benefits of Battery Life Maximizer. You can learn more about what this simple program can achieve here.

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What you need to know before upgrading to Windows 8.1 https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/windows-81-upgrade/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/windows-81-upgrade/#comments Sat, 19 Oct 2013 07:02:51 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=2027 Windows 8.1 is now officially released and you may be considering to upgrade your laptop's operating system. This article explains what you need to know before you upgrade to Windows 8.1 so that you will not lose the battery life.

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Windows 8.1 is now officially released and you may be considering to upgrade your laptop's operating system. This article explains what you need to know before you upgrade to Windows 8.1 so that you will not lose the battery life.

Screen shot: Windows 8.1 setup options

Why upgrade affects battery life?

The primary reason why you lose battery life after upgrade is the power saving features, which was working before the upgrade, is not working after the upgrade. This usually happens because the device drivers installed during upgrade is not power-optimized.

So, let's look at how the device drivers are configured during upgrade. There are two cases depending on how you upgrade. [Note 1]

  • Upgrade from Windows 8 using Windows Store (free upgrade)
  • Upgrade from Windows 8 using upgrade DVD and select “Keep Windows settings, personal files, and apps” option

    In these cases, Windows 8.1 will use the device drivers installed to Windows 8 unless there is any known compatibility issue with the device driver.

    If you are going to take this path, you don't need to worry too much. You should be able to get similar battery life after upgrade.

  • Upgrade from Windows 8 using upgrade DVD and select “Keep personal files only” or “Nothing” option
  • Upgrade from Windows 7 or older operating system using upgrade DVD

    In these cases, upgrade program will create clean Windows 8.1 operating system image. The device drivers installed to the original operating system will not be used by Windows 8.1. Instead, the device drivers included in the DVD will be installed.

    Windows 8.1 upgrade DVD includes variety of device drivers and devices look working fine with them, and when you open device manager, you don't see “yellow bangs”. However, they may not be well power managed. To ensure best battery life, you need to re-install optimal device drivers after the upgrade.

Which device needs to be re-installed?

Following is the list of the devices that usually require optimized device driver for better battery life.

  • Display (graphics) adapter
  • USB device (such as Bluetooth, Fingerprint, Mouse/Keyboard)
  • Network adapter (WiFi, LAN)
  • Audio
  • Storage controller (SATA/AHCI)

On the other hand, you don't need to re-install device drivers for the following devices. The device drivers included in the upgrade DVD will optimally control them.

  • USB (USB 2.0/EHCI, USB 3.0/XHCI) host controller
  • USB hub

Where to find the best device drivers?

  1. PC manufacturer's support site

    The first place to look for the optimal device driver is the PC manufacturer of your laptop. Although most device drivers are developed by the chip manufacturers (such as Intel, AMD, NVIDIA ...), not by the PC manufacturers (HP, Dell, ...), PC manufacturers may make some tweaking for their laptops. Therefore, they are usually the best source of the device drivers.

  2. Chip manufacturer's support site

    If your laptop is old and the PC manufacturer does not provide Windows 8 device drivers for your laptop, the next best place to look for the device driver is chip manufacturer's web site. If you don't know which company it is, you can use Device Manager to determine that (You should check this before you start upgrade). Usually, device name includes manufacturer's name.

Who should NOT upgrade

Before you start the upgrade or pay for the upgrade DVD, please go to the manufacturers' web sites and check if the necessary device drivers are available. If critical device driver, such as graphics adapter device driver, is not available, you may want to stay with current operating system.

If battery life get shorter after upgrading to Windows 8.1

Installing the right device drivers is the first step to create battery life optimized laptop, but it's not everything. Unfortunately there are many other reasons why power saving features stop working and it's impossible to describe all possibilities in this article. If you notice your laptop's battery life is much shorter after the upgrade, please try Battery Life Maximizer. It will, not only check if optimized device driver is installed, but checks if power saving features are actually working for each devices and if not, give you actionable recommendation to fix the problem.

When you use Battery Life Maximizer, please keep in mind that it may take up to 30 minutes in battery mode to complete the analysis. [Note 2].

Other resources


Notes

  1. This does not apply if you are using Volume License or Enterprise edition (which are usually used in large corporate environment) of Windows 8.
  2. This is because:
    1. Battery Life Maximizer checks if each device's power saving features are actually working or not, and
    2. Power saving features usually does not kick in when the laptop is AC powered. It often takes long time and Battery Life Maximizer needs to wait long enough time to see that.
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Do I need to stop programs to extend battery life? https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/do-i-need-to-stop-programs-to-extend-battery-life/ https://www.luculentsystems.com/techblog/do-i-need-to-stop-programs-to-extend-battery-life/#comments Mon, 09 Sep 2013 22:33:57 +0000 https://www.luculentsystems.com/?p=1996 There are some programs that make activities even when they are not used. It is important to identify such programs and stop them when you finished your work with them.

This positing explains how to determine which program needs to be stopped.

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The answer is yes and no.

Less software activity equal longer battery life. It's simple physics. However, well-written programs do not make activity when they are not used and stopping those programs does not make any difference to the battery life. Instead, if you stop and restart the program frequently, it even can waste battery power due to the overhead at every startup. It's also not a good idea to stop system service programs without knowing what that program exactly does.

The important thing is to understand which program needs to stop and which does not. This posting explains how to find that out.

Two types of software activities that drains battery

Before going into detail, let me explain about the two types of activities programs can cause when they are idle:

  • CPU time used by the program itself

    This is the kind of the activity most people are familiar about. Program should use CPU time to do something useful for you. When the program is idle and doing nothing, they should not use CPU time. However, some battery life unfriendly programs keeps doing something in the background. Keep pinging server, monitoring something, etc. They may not be using significant CPU time, but their battery life impact adds up as you keep such programs running for long time.

    You can find out which program is using CPU time with traditional process monitoring tools such as Windows Task Manager.

  • Change timer interrupt frequency

    Windows operating system, by default, programs timer interrupt to fire 64 times every second to do some house keeping tasks. This allows your laptop to enter approximately 16 milliseconds (1000 milliseconds / 64 = 15.6 milliseconds) of idle period between the interrupts if no program is running. It may sound very short period of time, but for most CPUs it's long enough to enter the deepest (least power consuming) power saving states.

    However, some programs request operating system to increase the frequency of the timer interrupt up to 1000 times per second. With this request, the longest idle period is limited to only 1 millisecond. This prevents many CPUs from entering the deepest idle states and increases the power consumed by the CPU.

    Imagine you have 90 minutes to take a nap. If you can sleep for 90 minutes uninterrupted, you will probably feel refreshed after that. But, if you are woken up every 10 minutes, your sleep will be very shallow and you feel grumpy after the 90 minutes. Similar thing happens with your laptop. Your laptop does not become grumpy, but consumes more power if timer interrupt frequency is increased. Newer laptops with more sophisticated power saving features are more vulnerable to the timer frequency increase and you can lose hours of battery life.

    Traditional process monitoring tools do not tell which program requests frequent timer interrupt frequency. You need to use special tools, like Battery Life Maximizer, to find it out. Please read the last section of this post for the details.

So, which program should be stopped?

It really depends on what program you use and how you use them. In addition, the result varies when program's version changes. So, please use this list just as a guide.

Programs you usually do not need to stop

  • Most of the Windows OS built-in programs

    This includes user visible programs such as Windows Media Player, Windows Media Center and various service programs that run in the background.

  • Most of the office productivity programs

    Including Microsoft Office, Dropbox, Evernote and many others.

Programs you should stop

  • Web Browsers

    Even if the browser is not making any activity by itself, web pages you visit might do so. (See another article about web browsing for the details) In addition, some web browsers (including Google Chrome 30.0.1599.66 as of this writing), tend to request frequent timer interrupt for long period and drains your battery.

  • 3rd party media players

    Many media players request to change timer interrupt frequency when the program starts up and keep that request active until the program is stopped.

How Battery Life Maximizer helps you to determine which program to stop

Because the behavior of program can vary depend on so many factors, I would strongly recommend to test programs in your laptop by yourself. It's relatively easy process and takes only about five minutes.

  1. Start programs you want to check. If appropriate, open documents or web pages, and minimize them.
  2. Unplug power cord and switch to battery mode.
  3. Leave your laptop idle for 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. Open Battery Life Maximizer.
  5. Select “Program Activity” page.
  6. Select “Show short term (current discharge cycle) data” in the dropdown list at the top of the page.
  7. See the “CPU Usage” column of each program.

Rule of thumb is a program using more than 1% CPU during idle can significantly reduce battery life. If you have such program in the list, you should stop it when you are not using it. (Alternatively, find replacement for that program.)

You do not need to worry too much about the programs that use less than 0.5% CPU. You usually can get only couple of minutes or less of battery life by doing so.

How Battery Life Maximizer helps you about the timer interrupt frequency?

Screenshot: Battery Life Maximizer pop-up warns about timer change request.

Battery Life Maximizer pops up a balloon message when a program requests to change timer interrupt frequency so that you will be aware of its battery life impact.

Screenshot: You can choose how to handle the timer change request using Battery Life Maximizer.

You can also set your preference about how that request will be handled. You can make the request ignored and allow your CPU to enter deepest idle state. Some program may have problem with this setting, but most programs work just fine.

If you set to ignore the request, you do not need to stop the program to save battery life.

Try Battery Life Maximizer
Learn about Battery Life Maximizer
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