Should I remove the battery if I leave my laptop plugged in?

Battery technology, while not increasing all that well in terms of capacity, is increasing in lifespan. But there are other advantages, regardless of battery life, to leaving the battery in your laptop.

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Hi Leo. When running a laptop on AC power for a long time, is it better to remove the laptop battery and let it run only on AC? Kind of like a desktop?

This is one of those questions that comes up periodically and to be honest, there’s no right or wrong answer. For every answer that there is out there, there are arguments against it. It tends to be controversial. And when I make my case here, I know there are going to be people who disagree with me.

I think that whatever you do will be just fine. I’ll explain why.

Remove the battery to lengthen its life

There’s always a possibility that leaving your battery in the machine when it’s plugged in may shorten the life of your battery.

Actually, it’s better for the batteries to get drained, but not all the way to zero. Ideally, you want to drain them to 20% or 50% so that they get recharged.  If they’re kept at maximum or nearly full charged all the time, they don’t necessarily hold the charge as long as they would when they were new.

Now, that being said, it’s not as bad as it once was. While battery technology is not increasing in terms of capacity, they are improving battery memory and lifespan issues. For example, in Macintosh laptops, you can’t replace the battery – it isn’t even removable.

With my Macs and PC laptops, I’ve left the battery in all the time. Over the years, battery lifespan does go down; for example, a three-hour battery becomes an hour and a half battery, but that kind of reduction is over two to three years.

Low BatteryWould it have been an hour and a half battery if I discharged periodically? Probably not. It would only be a two-hour battery. Some degradation just occurs naturally. By taking the battery out, you’re probably slowing the that degradation a little bit.

Leaving the battery in to protect the laptop

The one thing that I like about leaving the battery in the laptop is that it’s like having an uninterrupted power supply.

If the power ever goes out, say like in a thunderstorm, your desktop shuts down. You lose your work if you haven’t saved and you have to wait until the power comes back.

On the other hand, if your laptop has a battery (even a very old, very worn-out one that holds a charge for only 10 or 15 minutes), that still acts as enough of a power supply to protect your laptop from power spikes, power loss, and similar issues. That’s kind of a rationalization, but it’s one advantage to having the battery.

So, are you shortening the lifespan somewhat? Probably. Is it a big deal? Not in my opinion.

There are 31 comments:

  1. Steve Reply

    Good review. I leave my old MacBook Pro’s battery in all the time for the uninterruptible power supply ability. This is especially useful in Macs with the MagSafe power connector. Those things are great for preventing your Mac from being pulled to the floor by an accidental trip on the cord, but the tradeoff is they can easily disconnect even when you’re just changing positions on the couch.

  2. Ken B Reply

    Rather than thinking of the battery as a UPS, think of it as “without the battery, I’ve tethered myself to the power cord, and I can’t bring my laptop somewhere else without doing a full shutdown first”.

  3. Tink Reply

    If you remove your battery from your laptop even though it is pluged into the mains you will find that it will not boot up. I have tried this with several lap tops and the results are all the same.
    I think that this is due to the computer needs at least two or more different voltages and to acheive this the battery is tapped at different points. The mains connection only supplies one voltage so without the battery no computer.

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      Some laptops require the battery to be in to run. Others will work without a battery when plugged in.

  4. Henk Reply

    @Tink: it’s no problem at all to have a laptop boot when there is no battery in it. At least not in all the cases I tried it.

  5. eb_p1 Reply

    Very much agreed, more trouble than its worth – you probably have a better argument for wearing the battery and buying a replacement due to mechanical wear usage and fatigue – the problems it would cause with putting the fragile parts of a laptop under constant stress they clearly are not designed for. People say it’s safe, but I’m under the suspicion the swaps if done incorrectly can put you in danger of popping your power ic

  6. RANDY Reply

    HEY LEO;I’M A NEW SUBSCRIBER,AND I AM AT MY WITS END WITH MY LAP TOP,I HAVE THE PROGRAMS TO CLEAN OUT MY COMPUTER,AND NORTON,BUT THIS THING CRASHES CONSTANTLY,NO MATTER HOW MUCH CLEANING IS DONE IT STILL CRASHES.I ONLY USE MY LAPTOP FOR YOU TUBE VIDEOS,GETTING MAIL,AND FACEBOOK TO TALK TO MY FRIENDS IN OTHER COUNTRIES,AND SOME DOWN LOADED PICTURES.THAT’S IT.I THROUGH OUT TONS OF STUFF ON TOP OF CLEANING EVERY WEEK. CAN YOU GIVE ME ANY ADVICE???DESPERATE TO KEEP WHAT I HAVE ,INSTEAD OF THROWING THIS THING OUT AND BUYING A NEW ONE.IF I DID BY A NEW LAPTOP, AND DOWNLOADED THE INFO FROM MY OLD ONE TO THE NEW ONE, WILL I ALSO GET THE CRASHES TOO?THANX FOR ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE ME…

    • Leo Reply

      It’s almost impossible to say. I don’t know what tools you’re using to “clean” it, but I will say that cleaning too often with the wrong tool(s) can, in fact, lead to an unstable system. In your case I’d probably recommend backing up completely, and reinstalling Windows from scratch. That should eliminate any software-related issues. It is possible, of course, that the hardware is at fault – anything from actual failing hardware, to overheating because the computer isn’t getting enough ventilation. I’ll also start you at this article: Why does my computer crash at random times?

  7. chelsea Reply

    I have a dell inspirion 15r. and I leave my laptop plugged in daily, but I have the battery out of it.

    and I have shut the laptop down while the battery is out but plugged in and it turns on for me.

    but my question is how does taking the battery out and leaving it plugged in still power the laptop ? is there another battery internally in the machine, that’s getting a charge from the plug in ?

    of course though if I remove the cord the laptop shuts off so how does that work ? plz email back at {email address removed}.

    thanks.

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      The computer is powered directly from the power adapter.

    • Connie Delaney Reply

      Also, keep in mind that my removing the battery from the laptop you are removing one line of defense against power fluctuations which can damage a computer. You can protect against surges by using a surge protector. But lines also sometimes have gray-outs, where power diminishes slightly for some reason or another.

  8. Tapan Reply

    is there any risk in disconnecting/ re-connecting the battery WHILE the laptop is powered on? Can this harm the battery? It doesn’t seem to cause any harm to the laptop itself…

  9. Merry Reply

    I generally leave me laptop plugged in. The laptop prompted me to change my batter to only charge 50-70% to save battery life. Now I need to change it back and do not know where to make this change. Suggest?

    Thank you.

  10. Nea Reply

    My question is, will my laptop run just as smooth without the battery in it, even though it’s plugged into the charger? My battery is completely dead it wont hold a charge for any amount of time. I am ordering one off ebay but it may take a week or so to get here. In the meantime, my S.O. is a HUGE gamer and wants to know if he can still game just as well as before. (Which is probably a fraction of the problem, seeing as he had the charger plugged in for hours on end gaming, even when the battery was full) Or will my laptop run slow all together until I replace battery?

    Thanks for your time,
    Nea

    • Leo Reply

      Your laptop will run just fine. Just don’t pull the plug accidentally :-).

  11. Foday McGill Reply

    I really enjoy reading most of the articles on this page and it give me more inside about Laptop battery.
    Thanks very much.

  12. sara Reply

    I almost never use my dell laptop not plugged in. Now my laptop is saying that I need to replace my battery. Can I ignore and continue using my laptop plugged in as usual? Or will it affect its usage in any case?

    • Leo Reply

      As long as you’re using it plugged in it’ll be fine. Running on battery may no longer work, or you may have a very short battery life when you try.

  13. John Reply

    I don’t have a battery for my laptop…will it burn the laptop out if I use it without a battery and instead with a charger?

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      No, there shouldn’t be any problem keeping it plugged in all the time. I’ve had to do that myself with a few laptops.

  14. Joan MacPherson Reply

    I have an Asus lap top . Only 1 and 1/2 years old . I also have a Targus fan under it . Both are heating up , some times really hot . Does that mean it is time for a new battery or maybe a new fan ? Thank you for any help you can give me.

    • Leo Reply

      I’d be surprised if the fan was heating up – unless it’s just contact heat from being next to the hot battery. I would not expect the battery to get hot unless the computer was being used heavily, or the charger was incorrect. Hard for me to say what might be broken. I’d probably start by checking out that fan to see if it gets hot when used all by itself.

  15. Obet Reply

    As my opinion, it’s better to let the battery inserted to the laptop when using, b’coz it was built as it was, laptop is more important that battery. (You use very often your laptop directly from the outlet without battery, but your battery is just stand by in your cabinet. there possibilities that the laptop will give up, but the battery still live on).
    In my experience, by removing the battery, it adopt the situation that even I insert the battery it didn’t charge the battery, instead it power up the laptop directly.

  16. vicky Reply

    I am using lenovo B series notebook and I am having UPS so it will be fine if i use laptop without battery? Keeping battery out also have added disadvantages. Can you please suggest tips how to keep battery so that it won’t get moisture and dust.

  17. Bose Reply

    Hi I’m using a Mac laptop & my battery got dead and it was in my dash board for a year. I want to know how can I turn on my Mac without the battery to check is it working or not before purchasing a new battery. Leo your help is needed on a urgent basis.

  18. Nebin Kwe Reply

    I also have a Dell laptop (1747). it is almost 5 years old. It is always plugged in WITH the battery left in.
    Right now, if I were to just run off the battery, I would have only 45 minutes of battery life (at 100% charge.)
    I have been receiving ‘messages’ from Dell telling me that there are ”hardware” failures / problems.
    When I check to see what these ”failures” are, it tells me that it is my battery not being fully charged will harm my
    laptop and that I need to replace it ASAP…!!!
    DO I NEED TO REPLACE MY BATTERY RIGHT AWAY, OR can I leave the laptop plugged in WITH the battery in for
    the foreseeable future…? I am leaving the country for a few months, and will not be able to receive any packages
    or mail until my return… :-(
    thanks, really need an answer quickly as I leave soon, and Dell says that it may take 3 weeks for me to receive a new battery should I choose to order one from them.

    • Mark Jacobs Reply

      That really shouldn’t be a problem running a computer on a battery like that.

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