Does keeping a laptop plugged in ruin the battery?

Written by ellis davidson
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Does keeping a laptop plugged in ruin the battery?
A laptop is designed to be run off its battery from time to time. (Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Laptop battery maintenance can be confusing, as there have been several different technologies introduced that all have different methods of keeping them in top shape. Recommendations you may have heard regarding your older nickel-cadmium or nickel-metal hydride batteries do not necessarily apply to newer lithium-ion batteries.

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About Rechargeable Batteries

Every rechargeable battery has a usable lifespan, measured in "charging cycles." A charging cycle is one period of full or partial discharge of the battery, followed by plugging it into electrical power and recharging it. The number of usable charging cycles can be affected by many factors, including how the battery is used, how old the battery is (time since manufacture, which can be longer than how long you have owned it), and the temperature when the battery is used and when it is left unused for long periods of time.

Using AC Power

Batteries in portable devices are designed for exactly that: portable use. This presumes that there will be times when the laptop is used away from an electrical socket, and discharging off the battery. You should not keep your laptop plugged into electrical power 24 hours a day, seven days a week; it is designed to run off the battery from time to time. However, there is nothing wrong with keeping your laptop plugged in most of the time you are using it. Under normal usage by most people, the battery will work properly without requiring any specific maintenance; you only need to take action when your laptop is almost entirely immobile.

When to Unplug

Disconnect your laptop from wall power when you won't be using it for a few days. Leave your laptop in "sleep" mode instead of turning it off; this will slowly discharge the battery over time. If your laptop receives daily use and is never moved, you should deliberately disconnect from wall power once a month or so to keep the battery properly conditioned.

Battery Storage

If you are storing your battery for six months or more without using it, charge it approximately halfway, and place it somewhere where it will be kept at a moderate temperature. Electronic devices, including batteries, prefer the same range of temperatures that humans do; storing your battery in subfreezing or excessively hot temperatures can lower its ability to retain a charge when put back into use.


Under most conditions, batteries do not require conscious maintenance on the part of the user. All batteries will lose charge capacity over time, and need to be replaced every two to three years; simply plan on replacing your older batteries, and you do not need to take specific actions to keep them in service.

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