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Find out if it's time to replace your Windows laptop battery

Eventually, your once high-endurance laptop might only last a couple hours. Here's how to find out if you need a new one.

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If you've tried all the tricks -- dimming your screen, closing apps and turning off unused antennae -- but your laptop's battery still can't hold a charge, it might be time to replace the battery.

A battery's capacity (the amount of energy it can hold) depletes over time. Eventually, your once high-endurance laptop might only last a couple hours. Same goes for phones and tablets.

On Windows, the best way to find out if it's time to replace your battery is to generate a battery report.

How to generate a battery report in Windows

  • Launch the Command Prompt by right-clicking the lower-left corner of the screen and selecting "Command Prompt."
  • In the Command Prompt, type powercfg /batteryreport and hit enter. You'll see a message letting you know a file was saved.
  • Head to your Users folder to find that Battery Report file and double-click to open it in a browser.

There's a lot to learn from the battery report, like your battery's capacity history (how it's depleted over time) and analysis for the last three charge cycles. But for our purposes, the most important metric is Design Capacity versus Full Charge Capacity.

Design Capacity is how much power your laptop could hold when you unboxed it. Full Charge Capacity is how much it can hold now. For instance, my laptop's Design Capacity is 46,030 mWh while the Full Charge Capacity is now 39,030 mWh.

For me, the depletion is still tolerable. But if your Full Charge Capacity is drastically lower than the Design Capacity, you might want to find out if it's possible to replace the battery.