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

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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.

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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.

More for Patrons of Ask Leo!

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Using the Windows Battery Saver   Using the Windows Battery Saver

57 comments on “Should I remove the battery if I leave my laptop plugged in?”

  1. 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. 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. 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.

    • Never experienced that and never heard of it, with or without battery pack in place, laptop should bootup, even battery pack is completely dead, no problem.

    • No problems here either. I’ve tried running several different laptops with the batteries completely removed and (so far) have had no trouble with any of them not booting or running. In fact I had reason to do it this morning while testing an Acer with a failing battery and an old HP which won’t start at all on the battery alone, even immediately after being connected to the charger for some time. Both worked fine when connected to the mains with no battery in. As the users are interested in the compactness of a laptop and don’t need them to run away from the mains, they won’t be buying new batteries.

    • I’ve experienced having a laptop fail to boot when the battery is removed. However, the cause wasn’t the missing battery, it was that the battery when present was masking the too-low wattage charger that I was using. I had a 65 watt charger running a laptop that required 90 watts. So with battery in and charged, it ran fine. Without the battery (or if it was dead), I lacked sufficient wattage to power up the laptop. This is a common problem with after-market chargers.

  4. @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. 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. 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…

    • 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. 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.

    • 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.

      • Power fluctuations are regulated by the Power Adapter… the inline rectangular box attached to the power cord. It’s perfectly fine to disconnect the battery and not worry about surges. In fact, the battery produces extra heat which may shorten the lifespan of the laptop. The only valid reason for keeping the battery connected is to act as an uninterruptible power supply and for on-the-go use of the device where an AC outlet isn’t available.

  8. 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. 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. 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

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

  12. 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?

    • 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.

      • Leo,
        I was recently faced with the same situation on an older Toshiba laptop. Battery totally died. I decided to just leave it in the computer and continue running off direct power thru the adapter cord. Then, I noticed fan starting coming on almost all the time. Felt underneath laptop and noticed battery very hot. I tracked down the Toshiba specs on that ION battery and sure enough found a support bulletin indicating do NOT leave a dead ION battery in this computer as it will overheat dangerously. So I pulled out the battery altogether; computer runs fine off power cord and fan has ceased coming on constantly.

        • Hi ScribeWorks – What model and year is your older Toshiba? I have a 2011 Toshiba Satellite L755-S5258, but cannot find any bulletins (if there are any) about the battery. Thanks!

  13. 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?

  14. 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.

    • 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  19. Thanks for your advice, Leo! No battery problems but I do notice that if I remove the battery on several different laptops when not in use the batteries will hold a full charge way longer than if left in while not in use. Is there some power draw when not powered up?

  20. I have a HP 2000, Windows 8.1, and I have had it for 2.5 years. I heard that it was better to take out the battery, and to leave the cord plugged in. So a few days ago, while on my laptop, I took out the battery (while the cord was plugged in). I walked away for a few minutes, and I have my laptop set so that it goes to sleep after 5 minutes of inactivity. I was gone for more than five minutes, and when I came back, and tried to wake up the screen, it was all black, and the mouse would only show up if I were to click. I couldn’t figure it out, so I unplugged my laptop and put the battery back in, plugged the laptop back in, and turned it back on. Now, every time it goes to sleep, I need to go through that process all over again. I tried restarting it and seeing if it would go back to normal, but no success. Once, I was able to do ctrl+alt+del, and go down to task manager, but it never popped up, it was all from memory. Then when it registered as task manager, it went back to the desktop screen with the task manager screen open. Is there anything that I can do to stop it from blacking out every single time?

  21. My Battery is Cooked..wont hold a charge. But its always used plugged in. It is acting like it is Only working on Battery, and says…your Battery has ex 5 mins Remaining…Please find another Source Plug it in. Even plugged its shutting down every few min. Should I remove the battery as it seems to only be recognizing it, and not that its plugged 24/7. Or is my computer completely done.

    • Roxanne,
      Before tossing your computer into the dumpster, try replacing the adapter/charger and the power cord (the whole combo).
      If it is not “recognizing” the charger, it is running strictly on battery and therefore depleting, eventually to zero and then your computer will simply shut down if it has’nt already.
      The usual cause is a charger gone faulty from overheating or crunched wiring (dont wrap that velcro strap too tightly around the wires) or even bad manufacturing (Acer chargers are notoriously failure prone for example).
      If changing the charger does not work, and your computer is an old one, there are further steps you can take to fix the charging problem, with incremental cost of repairs…but chargers are mostly cheap if you shop online (like $10-$15 or even less).

  22. Kudos to Leo on the middle-of-the-road commentary regarding the battery in-or-out debate. Buddha would be proud. I would just like to add a few comments by way of updating the 2013 information (so much happens in the computer world in 2 years):
    1. All ACER “notebook” class laptops also have non-removable batteries. Probably several other brands as well.
    2. The crux of the matter is how old is your computer? If it is a 2009 Toshiba laptop like mine was, it contains an older type of battery that will irrevocably deplete after recharging x times (in the thousands, but still not an infinite amount of times). Leaving the battery in while power is plugged in will cause the battery to charge up to 100% until it gets too weak (from old age) then it will start displaying numbers like “98% charged; plugged in but NOT charging.”
    Then, when you shut down your computer (because laptops get overheated if left on forever), the battery will “trickle de-charge” (the opposite of trickle charge). When you turn the computer back on, another charging then occurs, eating into the x times it can recharge.
    3. If the laptop is 2014 or newer, and it contains a removable battery, it is probably made of newer materials and it can be recharged an almost infinite number of times, so that the question of wether or not to remove the battery when plugged in for long periods becomes moot…it does not matter either way.

  23. I always remove my laptop battery cuz I don’t want to waste time charging up it. I didn’t think that there would be so many problems. Your useful advices changed my mind. Thanks so much!

  24. everyone’s issues are very interesting. MY question is this. .I bought an HP laptop and I have it on wired connection w/
    my phone company….I bought it new in October 2015. I still have a manufactures warranty until this October.
    I noticed my battery was low by the little symbol. I realized it was not plugged in. I also saw the n=battery was not secure in the set place.
    NOW..a week later I could not access WINDOWS or Microsoft edge. I removed the battery and the computer reset everything. Do I keep the battery OUT of the laptop a while or put it back in?
    Thanks for any opinion/suggestion.

  25. Lithium-ion batteries should never be fully discharged and do not have to be deep cycled to keep their capacity. They also should not be maintained at full charge for long periods. If your laptop has power management software that permits setting the point at which charging starts and stops (Lenovo ThinkPad models do…not sure about others), then you can greatly extend battery life. Just set the charge to start at around 45% and stop when it reaches 55%. The “ideal” charge state for extended Li-ion battery life is very close to that range. If your heading out on a biz trip or vacation and expect to be using the laptop a lot without it being plugged in, just set it to charge on up to 100%. When back home, run it down to about 50% and set the charger limits back to 45 and 55. Manufacturers know this but don’t bother to provide that capability, as it would add a few cents…and reduce replacement battery sales. If you’ve bought any product with Li-ion battery it was probably charged up to about 50% at the factory and it will hold a charge for months, unlike NiCad.

    My Lenovo ThinkPad T-520 is 5-1/2 years old and will still run a solid 7-8 hours on battery (maybe 2 hours less than new), thanks to that battery saving feature. Three things: First, I bought it with a powerful processor but in the lowest MHz rating it was available in. It’s plenty fast but doesn’t need a nuclear power plant to run…and the laptop stays *cool* to the touch, whereas a previous Brand D hot rod would burn my leg (and heat killed its motherboard). Second, Lenovo uses a high quality battery on the ThinkPad and I’m told the laptop knows if you try to use a generic. Third, I opted for the high capacity battery, which protrudes just a bit beyond the back of the case.

  26. hello,

    my hp laptop don’t open. i suspect the battery is completly dead as i got notifications that it doesn’t work properly and it need to be changed. but after i removed it from the laptop while it’s plugged, shuldn’t it work? theclaptop i mean? shouldn’t it work without the battery but plugged in?

    thank you in advance for your answer!!!

  27. Leo’s article on “Should I remove the battery if I leave my laptop plugged in?” is very informative because it presents the ‘pros AND the ‘cons’, enabling the user to come to his own decision after weiging up everything. I’ve decided that I’ll only remove the battery if I detect that the laptop is getting too hot, because temperatures in excess of 45 degrees Celsius cause Lithium ion batteries to degrade more quickly than if they were kept nearer 20 to 27 degrees C.

  28. Hi Leo
    I always plug my laptop to AC adapter all the time to achieve performance, is it gonna reduce the battery life significantly (battery always at full charge)? Should I remove the battery while I’m on AC? *I’m on Asus GL552jx dm356d , the battery condition right now is around 85% (38,343 mWh out of 45,102 mWh; and design capacity = 48,000 mWh), I bought it last january (*2016) which means it tears up pretty quickly during these 7 months.

    thanks

  29. I have a new laptop and I would like to take the battery out and just run with the power cord. My question is, is it bad for the battery to just sit around while not in the computer and how would be the best way to take care of/ maintain the battery and keep it in good working order?

    • It’s a better idea to leave the battery in the laptop because it operates as a very efficient battery backup. Electricity levels can fluctuate quite a bit during the day, causing surges and “brown outs.” Those can create quite a bit of damage to the electronics of a computer. With the battery installed in the laptop, your electricity can go completely out and the battery automatically take over, with no harm to your system.

  30. This site is great to answer a lot of question you have. I love it. Way to go Leo. I was so worried about leaving my battery in while keeping the laptop plugged up all the time. This helped a lot. Thanks Leo..

  31. Hey Leo,
    I have saved all the business emails you sent, some on my hard drive, and some still in the email.
    I would rather the buy the book you said you might write from the data in the emails.
    Are you going to write the book that explains how to set up my Hugo.com web site, or must I go though and copy, edit, and print the emails?
    Hugo

    • I don’t recall ever having said I’d make a book out of Ask Leo!. There are parts of it I plan to, and have done – like backing up, internet safety, and a forthcoming one on privacy. Are you refering to Ask Leo! on Business? I do plan to publish that some day, but based on the (lack of) general interest, it’s not a high priority I’m afraid.

    • As mentioned in the article, you don’t have to take it out ever. It’s up to you with only slight benefits either way.

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