Tips, tricks and downloads for better working on the move

Power, security and more

Maximise your battery life

When you're away from a power socket, every second of battery life counts. It therefore pays to keep your laptop's battery in good condition, letting it discharge fully at least once a fortnight to keep its capacity high.

Also make use of Windows power plans, and remember to switch to 'Power Saver' whenever you're working from the battery to make each charge last longer. You can make tweaks to the current plan to get more from it, or opt to use a plan manager, which will change the plan automatically to conserve power.

1. Power Plan Assistant

Power plan assistant

You can make switching between plans quick and easy by installing Power Plan Assistant, which you can download from powerplan7.com/home.htm.

Once installed, it runs in the system tray and shows the current plan in its coloured icon: red for 'Power Saver', yellow for 'Balanced' and green for 'High Performance'. Click the icon and select the plan you want to change to.

2. Assistant settings

Power plans assistant config

Right-click the 'Power Plan Assistant' icon in the system tray and choose 'Power Plan Assistant Settings'. Select 'On unplugging automatically switch to… | Power Saver'. Return to these settings and then choose 'Save' to confirm them.

Alternatively, you can opt to switch to 'Power Saver' mode if your battery's charge drops below a minimum level – say 20 per cent, for example.

The emergency plan

You might be forced to stay somewhere without usable internet access. If you don't have a 3G dongle, consider enabling internet tethering on your mobile phone. Android phones and iPhones are well suited to tethering – see below for details.

Symbian phones with Wi-Fi can use Joikuspot to produce a personal hotspot, which you can connect to with your laptop. Lengthy use of 3G and Wi-Fi together can make your phone hot and draw heavily on its battery, so disconnect it when not in use

1. Android tethering

PdaNet

Install the PdaNet phone software (the free version blocks secure sites) and download the PC component. Connect your phone to charge and launch PdaNet.

Choose 'Enable USB tether'. On your PC, click the PdaNet icon in the system tray and choose 'Connect'.

2. iPhone tethering

With an iPhone running iOS 4, tethering is simple, although you'll need to check that your network supports it. On your phone, go to 'Settings | General | Network | Internet tethering | On'.

Choose 'USB only', then connect your phone to your laptop and select the new network.

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First published in PC Plus Issue 302

Liked this? Then check out 10 ways to make your laptop battery last longer

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