How To Fix Your Laptop

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Laptop Battery Not Charging

Myloginname asked the Laptops forum what to do about a battery that's not charging.

I know I answered this question as recently as February, but I've grown dissatisfied with that answer and am using Myloginname's query to take another whack at it.

There are a number of things you should try before you give up and replace the battery. Let's start with the simplest.

I call it the Battery Reboot. Shut down the PC, unplug it, remove the battery, plug in the laptop, boot up, shut it down again, unplug it, insert the battery, plug it in, and reboot.

Did it work? Oh, well. It was worth a try.

The battery's driver may have become corrupt. If so, uninstalling and reinstalling should fix the problem. But first, just to play it safe, create a restore point.

Once you're safe, open Device Manager: If you're using Windows XP, click Start, right-click My Computer, and select Properties. Click the Hardware tab, then the Device Manager button. In Vista or Windows 7, just click Start, type device manager, and press ENTER.

Once you're in Device Manager, expand the Batteries section by clicking the little icon to the left of the word Batteries. Right-click Microsoft ACPI-Compliant Control Method Battery and select Uninstall. Verify that that's what you want to do. Do not uninstall any other drivers.

Once that driver has disappeared, click the Action menu at the top of the window and select Scan for hardware changes. This will bring the driver back.

If that doesn't solve your problem, try draining the battery. Doing this too often will strain the battery and shorten its lifespan. But in an extreme situation like this, it might help and it can't hurt.

But how do you do it? Windows won't let you run the battery all the way down. When it falls below a certain percentage, Windows automatically hibernates itself and powers down the computer. Under normal conditions, this is a good thing. But these aren't normal conditions.

So here's what you do: Run the PC without AC power until Windows hibernates and shuts down the hardware. Then reboot and go immediately to your BIOS Settings screen. I can't tell you exactly how to get there; it varies with different PC models. If you study the screen as it boots, you'll see a message telling you to press a certain key "for setup." Press that key.

This will bring up a text-based full-screen menu system. You don't have to do anything with it. just leave it on that way until the PC shuts down.

Then plug in the AC power and boot to Windows.

If the battery still isn't recharging, I've got bad news for you: Your battery is as dead as John Cleese's parrot. It happens. They don't live forever.

You have three options: You can buy a replacement from the manufacturer, search online for a better price, or accept that you now have an AC-only laptop.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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