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Understanding Windows Power Management

As my power was out this morning, I was thinking about the power management features of Windows and how often they are likely ignored. By actually changing which power plan Windows is using, you can get more performance out of your machine while plugged in and more battery life when its not.

To start, find your battery/power icon in the Notification area of the

taskbar. Clicking on it will provide you with the most basic options for changing your power plan. By default, Windows places “Balanced” and “Power Saver” in that menu. You can also click the “More Power Options” link at the bottom of that menu to see everything you have available. A retail version of Windows will include three power plans: Balanced, Power Saver, and High Performance.

The Power Options Window

Balanced is fairly self¬†explanatory. Its the middle ground between the other two. I generally only use Balanced when I know that I’m going to be running on battery between 30 minutes and an hour and a half.

Power Saver is for when you want the most out of your battery. Choosing this power plan disables features that use up power, like Areo, background slide shows, and other fancy GUI features that just make things look nice. It also causes your hard drives to stop spinning when not in use and will turn of your display if you leave your computer alone.

High Performance lets you use your computer to the fullest. With this power plan enabled, Windows will not hinder your graphics card, processor, or hard drive from operating at the peak of their performance. This is the setting you should be using on your desktop or when your laptop is plugged in.

There are some changes you should make to High Performance, however. By default (and without much logic), the plan defaults to still causing your display to turn off and might put your computer to sleep. To change this, click on “Change Plan Settings” and you’ll see a window like the one below.

The High Performance Plan Options Window

The image shows exactly how my High Performance plan is configured. The few other tweaks I made were in the Power Options window: preventing the computer from doing anything when I close the lid and turning the computer off when I press the power button.

I hope that this has been helpful and gives you a better understanding of the Windows 7 Power Management features.

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