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Battery Killing Utilities -- Find them and shut them off.

By Andrew Pollack on 11/01/2008 at 10:47 AM EDT

My flight back from London on a relatively old 767 that seemed (to me) to be configured for domestic travel rather than international wasn't too bad -- but only because there were enough open seats. The power supplied by the aircraft to some of the seats was barely workable. My Dell wants about 95 watts inbound to the block adapter and that's close to the advertised limit of the seat power. Add a little loss on the inverter and it gets iffy. Viewing a movie from the hard disk, the on again/off again charging was just about enough to keep even without charging or discharging the batter much in either direction.

I decided to try to conserve power as much as possible. I've moved the movie I was watching to a USB thumb drive, shut down everything else, and set the machine to 'max battery' mode. That should have allowed the hard disk to spin down and shut off -- but it didn't. Something would pop up and need the drive about once every few seconds. I couldn't figure out what it was, but I've come to realize that this defeats a big part of the battery saving features of a laptop.

Software is supposed to pay attention to power status flags set by the operating system, but most doesn't. I've located a utility from Sysinternals ( ) which is now owned by Microsoft, that will show a real time file usage log so that you can see what's hitting the hard disk and where. The application is called "Filemon" and I was a bit surprised by some of the things it showed me. One of the worst is Skype. vmware server is also bad -- especially given that I'm not running any VM's right now. Avast is also doing it, Sun's java updater does it, and the list goes on and on.

My next step is to create a command file that sets all of these hogs into a "suspend" mode with one icon click. Obviously I'll need another click that wakes them all up. I may even get fancy and tie it to network connectivity or a max battery setting or something. I'll post here when that's done.

If I can get all the frequent offenders that are hitting the drive when I'm not using them to stop, I should see a radical increase in battery life.

There are  - loading -  comments....

re: Battery Killing Utilities -- Find them and shut them off.By Mike on 11/03/2008 at 04:59 AM EST
Hmm, when you plugged in the laptop did the plane noticeably slow down a
re: Battery Killing Utilities -- Find them and shut them off.By Craig Wiseman on 11/03/2008 at 10:35 AM EST
I believe the standard response is: Macs just work, if you had one you wouldn't
have any issues.

I suppose, if you need a crutch...By Andrew Pollack on 11/03/2008 at 10:45 AM EST
I guess if I didn't have the kung-fu needed, I could go with a mac. Of course,
for the money I could buy two PC's of the power I need.

Now, are you saying the Skype, VMWARE Fusion, and other such utilities don't
touch the hard disk when the mac is on batteries? I suspect you'll find that's
not the case.
re: I suppose, if you need a crutch...By Craig Wiseman on 11/03/2008 at 12:33 PM EST
I didn't say -> I <- thought that was true.

I was merely spouting the standard line, heard over & over -

hence the "8-)"


(posted from Chrome on a Thinkpad t60p running WinXP)

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