Bits & P.C.’s: Computer batteries

Bits & P.C.’s: Computer batteries

By By Richard Heller

It’s that time of year when summer vacations are winding down, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school. It’s also the time that the computer that has been unused all summer is turned on; at least you hope that it turns on.

If your computer has been turned off all summer, it is quite possible that it will not work at all or will display some strange behavior. The behavior may be caused by a dead battery.

All computers contain a battery that is used by a special chip called the BIOS. This chip contains the “master” program for your computer. It knows how much memory is installed, the size of the hard drive, the date and time, and other essential information that allows the computer to “turn on” when you press the power button. If the battery goes dead, the BIOS forgets everything specific to your computer, and so it beeps at you and tells you that the time is wrong or that you have to press a key to enter setup.

Some of the newer computers can automatically detect what devices are in the computer and can do everything but set the time. If you have an older computer, you may have to know the size of the hard drive and other

“personal” information about the computer before it will work correctly.

The battery is usually a coin cell about the size of a quarter and is fastened to the main system board in the computer. If the computer displays any of the symptoms shown above, you should replace the battery, or you will have to re-enter the information each time the computer is turned on. The battery costs less than $5 and is fairly easy to replace.

If you have a laptop computer, you may find that the battery that supplies the power has gone dead. Considering that a replacement battery may cost $200 or more, it is important to keep the battery charged.

If the battery is dead, you should attempt to charge it in the computer with the computer turned off for a day. After 24 hours, you should unplug the computer from the AC outlet and try to run it on battery power. If the computer doesn’t run on battery power, you should try to recharge the battery for another 24 hours and then try to run on battery power. If this again fails, you should repeat this cycle for three or four more days before giving up and buying a new battery.

Once the computer is running on the battery, you should allow it to remain on until the battery goes dead. You should disable any power management so that the battery has all its power used. If the battery is not allowed to go completely dead, it will only discharge to a certain point, and you will not get the full use from it. In order to get the maximum life from the battery, you should repeat this cycle for five times. After you have a full charge, the battery should be recharged at least once a month and completely discharged every two to three months.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail

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