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Keeping your batteries and data safe from constant load shedding

There are practices you can learn to keep your batteries healthy. Picture: File

There are practices you can learn to keep your batteries healthy. Picture: File

Published Jun 29, 2022

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Johannesburg - With load shedding intermittently up to stage 6, South Africans are juggling even more time in the day without electricity. That often means being more mindful of keeping our devices charged and able to keep us working or entertained.

However, this back and forth race to the plugs can be harmful to our devices –here are the best practices for keeping your batteries healthy.

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Most of the electronic devices we use these days will have an internal lithium-ion battery. These batteries are chemically fated to degrade with use over time. However, proper charging and use can do a lot to prolong this process.

As with anything slightly technical that could easily be checked with a quick Google search, there are plenty of hold-over myths and bad advice regarding batteries.

It’s likely you have heard someone tell you that it is harmful to put your device on and off charge often, or that it’s best to run the battery down completely before charging. But this is completely backwards.

For optimal battery life, your phone or laptop should stay above 20 percent and below 80 percent battery life. Lithium-ion batteries don’t like to be run down completely, and excessive charging is particularly bad for their long-term functioning.

In fact, short charging sessions throughout the day are the best way to get the most from your battery in the long term – perfect for topping up between power outages.

Your phone may have an explicit battery-saving setting which helps keep battery charge within this 80-20 range. On iOS this is called “Optimised Battery Charging”.

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If you don’t have this option, there’s no need to worry. In fact many devices have in-built battery managers which help prevent over-charging – 100 percent charge often means around 90 percent of actual battery capacity.

The real damage to your battery life comes from excessive charging and electronics’ common enemy – heat. Charging overnight or getting a battery hotter than necessary will degrade its performance.

Keep your phone off the dash or windowsill whether it’s charging or not to keep it running longer. You should keep your battery temperature below 40 degrees celsius, which you can monitor with various apps if your device does not display it already.

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Making your phone work hard while it charges will not only degrade battery life by increasing heat but also cause mini-cycles which are stressful to the battery. Try to stay off your device while charging, or just keep intensive tasks like streaming and gaming to a minimum.

Regular power cuts can also be harmful to our data. Sudden loss of internet connection can result in unsaved changes to cloud files and app systems.

While this usually just means moving to mobile data or waiting for wifi to return, unsaved or partially saved changes can cause confusion or unpredictability when working on a file collaboratively through a service like Google docs.

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Sudden power loss to a desktop PC can see you losing unsaved files, but the real concern is damage that may happen in the background.

Operating systems are often working behind the scenes, and a surprise shutdown can lead to corrupted system files or unexpected errors in the future. It’s best to save progress and shut down safely with time to spare – or invest in a UPS.

IOL Tech

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