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Battery Saver is Microsoft’s latest attempt to give users running Windows on a laptop the ability to allocate resources in the best interests of battery life. Here’s a primer on how the utility works, and how much of a difference it will actually make to your battery usage.
Why is Battery Saver Necessary?
Windows 10 represents Microsoft’s desire to expand their flagship OS beyond the confines of the PC. Universal apps (aka Windows apps) allow for the same user experience across phones, tablets, and hybrid devices, as well as conventional laptops and desktops.
With Windows 10 being available on more battery-powered devices than ever before, there’s a need for more tools and utilities that allow users to keep abreast of how much charge they have available and how best to conserve it. A range of third party utilities can help you analyze your computer’s battery life, but Microsoft’s proprietary tool Battery Saver is a potent way of mitigating battery issues in its own right.
Battery Saver can help you reclaim battery life by limiting the amount of resource-hogging background processes the app-friendly Windows 10 makes full use of. Battery Saver is not a silver bullet that will work for every single user, but it’s well worth testing out to see how much benefit can be had.
Setting Up Battery Saver
To get Battery Saver up and running, either search for it via Cortana or press Windows + I to open the Settings app, then navigate to System > Battery Saver. An on/off switch will tell you whether or not the utility is active — by default, it’s set to kick in when your laptop is without AC power and your battery level drops below 20%.
Once it’s turned on, take a moment to look over Battery saver settings. You can set the charge level that prompts it to kick in, but more important is the list of apps that are always allowed to run in the background. Battery Saver works by cutting down on background processes that are unnecessary, but there might well be some apps that you want to be exempt from this list.
For instance, if you’re using an email app that constantly refreshes to alert you of new messages, it might be worth adding that to the always allowed list. Conserving your battery is a smart move — unless it’s at the cost of the work you’re doing on your laptop.
With Build 10074, you can check the status of Battery Saver directly from the battery icon on the Toolbar. The intention seems to be that users will be able to turn the tool on and off from that window, too — but, as of the time of writing, that functionality doesn’t quite work as intended.
While it may be the latest battery utility to hit Windows, there are plenty of battery extending options outside of Battery Saver available to Windows users. You might want to tweak your power options or establish a customized power plan that fits in with your individual usage.
Adjusting your display’s brightness settings can make a sizeable difference to your battery life — not to mention offering up other advantages, like making sure your eyes aren’t being damaged by your monitor. While laptops aren’t generally thought of as being quite as modular as a conventional PC, there are some methods of improving battery life via hardware. Upgrading your hard drive, Bluetooth module, Wi-Fi card, or the battery itself can make a real impact; just make sure you know what you’re doing before you open up your device.
Is Battery Saver Worthwhile?
Battery Saver is a useful tool for Microsoft to include in Windows 10, if only for its capacity to make the most of that all-important last 20% of your charge. However, its utility beyond that will be determined by how much the individual makes use of background apps.
You can check your own usage by heading to the Battery Saver overview — press Windows + I, then navigate to System > Battery Saver. Click on Battery Usage and use the dropdown to see stats for the past day, two days or week. If your background app usage percentage is high, there’s plenty of potential for Battery Saver to amend the situation.
My percentage was rather low indeed, but there was still a noticeable increase in my available battery life. Having it enabled on a fully charged battery offered about 45 minutes more charge than using my laptop without it under the same conditions — obviously, different devices and usage will cause that figure to fluctuate dramatically. My system’s overall performance did seem to dip slightly, but given that I tested the Windows 10 Technical Preview, it’s difficult to pin that entirely on Battery Saver.
On the whole, Battery Saver does good work, but your mileage may vary depending on how much you actually use apps that run in the background. If you do so frequently, you’ll have the most potential gain from the tool; the downside to that being that disabling those apps running in the background will disturb your routine the most. It’s something of a double-edged sword, but one that might turn out to be very useful when you need it the most.
What has your experience with Battery Saver been like? Do you know of a useful alternative? Let us know in the comments section below.