Taking care of my Macbook Pro's battery.
February 17, 2012 9:24 AM   Subscribe

what are the best practices for taking care of a macbook pro (specifically the battery) for someone who uses it intensively for 8-10 hours a day?

there is an overwhelming amount of contradictory information regarding how best to protect your battery and how to handle charging cycles which, in my reading thus far, seems to be largely affected by whether you actually need the battery for a given task.

i use my computer to produce electronic music (having just replaced my old powermac G5 with a new MBP) and while i do utilize the battery on occasion, the vast majority of the laptops' usage is just sitting in my home studio.

should i just leave it plugged in all the time when i'm using it or should i be running the battery down? it's not uncommon for me to have to go through two recharge cycles in a day (i do this maybe 2 or 3 times a week on average). it's only just occurred to me that it may be less detrimental to the battery if i were to just leave it plugged in when i'm at home and actually using it, but i've heard that this too can be problematic. i guess i'm wondering which is the lesser evil.

lastly, would the usage of an external monitor with the laptop affect these protocols?
posted by austere to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Personally, if I were going to use a MacBook in a home studio, I'd leave it plugged in and remove the battery. Pop the battery in when you need to go on the road. If you don't want to do that, I'd unplug the computer when it's charged and run down the battery; leaving it plugged in all the time, in my experience, kills the battery.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:29 AM on February 17, 2012

If it's a new MBP the batteries are non-removable.

Really, no matter what you do the batteries will get worse over time. The biggest beef I've had with the Apple Geniuses has been over this, I've gotten warranty repairs denied on machines barely over a year old for having both "too many" and "too few" cycles on the battery. I'd just suck it up and plan on spending $100 in two years to have the battery replaced.
posted by Oktober at 9:32 AM on February 17, 2012

Best answer: You should leave it plugged in, but drain the battery fully at least once a month. While I don't have a link handy, this is based on Apple documentation I read while researching this same question myself a few months ago.
posted by wrok at 9:35 AM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: thanks for the quick responses all! i'll follow wrok's suggestion and just replace the battery as needed, as oktober says.
posted by austere at 9:38 AM on February 17, 2012

Here is the link to the Apple page on batteries.
posted by Uncle Jimmy at 10:13 AM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

it's not uncommon for me to have to go through two recharge cycles in a day

What do you mean by this?
posted by zippy at 10:36 AM on February 17, 2012

Not sure if it helps, but just in case, I have a 2009 MBP that is plugged in most of the time, with occasional draining of the battery(less than once a month for sure.) The iStat program says I still have 90% battery life left.
posted by cabingirl at 11:08 AM on February 17, 2012

Response by poster: zippy: i mean that there are usually two or three days out of the week where i will start working on a track in the morning with a full battery charge, and over the course of the day i will completely drain that initial charge, recharge to full, and by 5 pm or so the second charge will have diminished almost completely as well.
posted by austere at 1:00 PM on February 17, 2012

Mac Observer did a real-world-use survey a few years ago on this question. (Disclosure: I'm close to to someone who's heavily involved with that site.) Paradoxically, they found that doing what Apple recommended (letting it drain fully, then charge back up fully, repeat) did not result in the best battery life. The people who were constantly plugging in, unplugging, etc -- always keeping the battery in the middle range of its charge -- had the best battery life.

You need to let it drain fully and charge fully, for one full cycle, occasionally to re-set the software that estimates the battery life for the indicator in the top bar. If you don't reset it, its estimates become more and more out of whack.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2012

They also found the people who had the worst battery life were those who left it plugged in all the time.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:41 PM on February 17, 2012

Response by poster: alas, more conflicting information. at this point i'm inclined to forget about it and just pay to replace the battery when it dies out. it has been absurdly difficult to discern how best to approach this problem because again, i can easily use 200-250% of the batteries charge in the course of a day's work. cabingirl's experience seems helpful, but again i don't know how it applies to someone who uses the computer as intensively as myself. oh well.

thanks all!
posted by austere at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2012

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