How to analyze and reduce battery use on Windows 10 PCs

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 16, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Whenever a new operating system is released, regardless of whether it is a new version of Windows or a mobile operating system, it is almost a given that battery performance improvements are highlighted in press releases and during presentations.

The release of Windows 10 was not different in this regard, with Microsoft promising battery use improvements across the board.

Microsoft added new tools to the Windows 10 operating system that help you analyze, troubleshoot and improve battery use when using a device running the operating system.

The new feature, Battery Use, is a new addition that was not part of previous versions of the Windows operating system (but part of Windows Phone).

Battery Saver

Battery Saver is the new entry point for battery related information and preferences. It is part of the Settings application and you won't find most of the information it displays in the classic Control Panel.

  1. Tap on Windows-I to open the Settings application on your Windows 10 device.
  2. Navigate to System > Battery Saver to open the menu.

Battery Saver displays how much battery life is remaining both in percent and also in hours and minutes.

It lists an option to save battery by turning the Battery Saver feature on which you can do with a flick on the slider in the interface.

Windows 10 will turn the feature on automatically when battery falls below the 20% mark.

Battery Saver Settings

A click on "battery saver settings" displays the following options to you on a new screen:

  • Change the 20% threshold to a different one using a slider, e.g. enforce battery saving at 50% or 35%.
  • Enable "allow push notifications from any app while in battery saver".
  • Disable "lower screen brightness while in battery saver".
  • Add applications to a whitelist. These apps are allowed to run in the background, and to send and receive push notifications, even if battery saver mode is enabled.

Those settings pale in comparison to what the classic Power Options menu offers, and it is highly recommended to go through the options as well to optimize battery use on Windows 10 devices further.

  1. Press Windows-Pause to open the classic Control Panel. If your laptop or device has no Pause-key, tap on the Windows-key instead, type Control Panel and hit enter.
  2. If you used Windows-Pause, click on "Control Panel Home", and select Power Options from the list that opens.

The power options display all plans available (you may need to click on "show additional plans" to display them all.

Pick any of the plans, and select "change plan settings" afterwards. If you don't have time, select the "power saver" plan directly, and go through the plan's settings afterwards.

power saver plan

The page that opens displays only basic options. You may change the idle time for turning off the display and putting the computer to sleep (or turn those off).

A click on "change advanced power settings" however gives you far more control over the power plan.

power options

You can make the following adjustments in the advanced power options menu:

  1. Require a password on wakeup.
  2. Turn off hard disks after x minutes, or turn the feature off.
  3. Change Internet Explorer's JavaScript timer frequency (maximum performance or maximum power savings).
  4. Turn desktop background slideshows off or on.
  5. Set the power saving mode of the Wireless Adapter to maximum performance or low/medium/maximum power savings.
  6. Set an idle sleep timer and wake timers.
  7. Configure USB selective suspend.
  8. Configure the power button action (on the PC case).
  9. Configure PCI Express Link State Power Management.
  10. Configure processor power management (minimum processor state, system cooling policy and maximum processor state).
  11. Enable adaptive brightness and when to turn off the display (after the PC has been idle for x-minutes).
  12. Configure multimedia settings.

Battery Use

A click on "battery use" in the Settings application (not the Control Panel applet), lists battery performance information for the last 24 hours.

You can change the time period to 48 hours or 1 week using the dropdown menu at the top.

The Battery Use menu displays aggregate information at the top which highlight how much power the system, display and Wi-fi used in the selected time period, and how much background activities used.

Below that are the apps and programs that used the most power which can reveal useful information. Allowed underneath an application indicates that it has permission to run in the background.

You may click on an application and select the details button afterwards to display app-specific battery use information.

app-specific battery use

What may be most interesting here is the "in use" to "background" ratio. If you notice that an application or program uses lots of battery while running in the background, you may want to terminate it once you are done using it instead of letting it run in the background.

This works only if you don't require its notification functionality or want to keep it up of course.

Two app-specific preferences are displayed here as well:

  1. Allow this app to run in the background (turned on by default).
  2. Allow this app to run in the background, even when battery saver is on (turned off by default).

The Battery Use menu links to background app settings which you can use to control which (Windows apps) applications are allowed to run in the background.

It is easier to control this here as you can flip switches for all installed apps right away on the page saving time.

It makes sense to disable background running permissions for apps that you are not using. For instance, if you don't use Messaging, Skype or Photos, you may want to turn off the apps' ability to run in the background as it may drain battery when it does so.

Battery Saver affects other processes or apps

Battery Saver, when enabled, turns off other features when enabled:

  1. Mail, People and Calendar applications don't sync.
  2. Non-critical Windows Updates are blocked, but scans are still performed for updates.
  3. The display brightness is reduced to 30%.
  4. The majority of Telemetry data is blocked. According to Microsoft, only critical telemetry is uploaded including census data.
  5. Windows Task Scheduler tasks trigger only under certain circumstances (task does not use IdleSettings, MaintenanceSettings, is set to "run only when user is logged on).

Background apps power drain

The power use of background apps may vary largely depending on how you are using your Windows 10 device. Background apps accounted for only 0.2% of power on my Surface 4 Pro system for instance which means that Battery Saver's option to prevent apps from running in the background won't help much.

It is still useful though if the option to lower the screen brightness is enabled. But that can also be configure directly using the power options of the classic control panel.

Reducing power use

So what can you do to reduce the power use of the Windows 10 device?

  1. You could enable Battery Saver mode permanently, especially if you don't use any of the features that it limits (app syncing). Since it affects brightness, limits background apps and activity, it will reduce power use.
  2. You may also want to configure disk and display idle times in the classic Power Options. Since the display is usually one of the main factors for battery drain, it may be a good idea to set it to a low value so that it is turned off after a short period of no use.
  3. Programs and apps that you run will drain battery, and there is nothing you can do about that. You may change your behavior however, for instance by avoiding to run select applications that you don't require at that point in time. So, instead of opening the Facebook app or Facebook in Microsoft Edge to check what is new, you'd postpone that to a later point in time when the device is connected to a power source.

Now You: Got power saving tips? Feel free to share them in the options below.

How to analyze and reduce battery use on Windows 10 PCs
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How to analyze and reduce battery use on Windows 10 PCs
Find out how to analyze and reduce battery use on Windows 10 PCs using new configuration options and metrics.
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  1. Dan Donx said on January 15, 2023 at 10:29 am

    What mental age of reader are you targeting with the first sentence? 10?

    Why not write an article on how to *avoid* upgrading from W10 to W11. Analogous to those like me who avoided upgrading from 7 to 10 for as long as possible.

    If your paymaster Microsoft permits it, of course.

  2. Dexter said on January 15, 2023 at 11:14 am

    5. Rufus
    6. Ventoy

    PS. I hate reading these “SEO optimized” articles.

    1. cdr said on January 15, 2023 at 3:32 pm

      I used Rufus to create an installer for a 6th gen intel i5 that had MBR. It upgraded using Setup. No issues except for Win 11 always prompting me to replace my local account. Still using Win 10 Pro on all my other PCs to avoid the bullying.

  3. sv said on January 15, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    bit pointless to upgrade for the sake of upgrading as you never know when you’ll get locked out because ms might suddenly not provide updates to unsupported systems.

    ps…. time travelling?
    written. Jan 15, 2023
    Updated • Jan 13, 2023

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on January 16, 2023 at 5:49 am

      This happens when you schedule a post in WordPress and update it before setting the publication date.

  4. Anonymous said on January 16, 2023 at 8:24 am

    Anyone willing to downgrade to this awful OS must like inflicting themselves with harm.

  5. basingstoke said on January 16, 2023 at 11:18 am

    I have become convinced now that anybody who has no qualms with using Windows 11/10 must fit into one of the following brackets:

    1) Too young to remember a time before W10 and W11 (doesn’t know better)

    2) Wants to play the latest games on their PC above anything else (or deeply needs some software which already dropped W7 support)

    3) Doesn’t know too much about how computers work, worried that they’d be absolutely lost and in trouble without the “”latest security””

    4) Microsoft apologist that tries to justify that the latest “features” and “changes” are actually a good thing, that improve Windows

    5) Uses their computer to do a bare minimum of like 3 different things, browse web, check emails, etc, so really doesn’t fuss

    Obviously that doesn’t cover everyone, there’s also the category that:

    6) Actually liked W7 more than 10, and held out as long as possible before switching, begrudgingly uses 10 now

    Have I missed any group off this list?

    1. Heinz Strunk said on September 19, 2023 at 3:57 pm

      You have missed in this group just about any professional user that uses business software like CAD programs or ERP Programs which are 99% of all professional users from this list.

      Linux doesn’t help anyone who is not a linux kid and apple is just a fancy facebook machine.

  6. ilev said on August 24, 2023 at 7:34 pm

    Microsoft has removed KB5029351 update

    1. EP said on August 24, 2023 at 9:21 pm

      only from windows update though
      KB5029351 is still available from the ms update catalog site

  7. Anonymous said on August 24, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    1. This update is labaled as PREVIEW if it causes issues to unintelligent people, then they shouldn’t have allowed Preview updates ot install.

    2. I have installed it in a 11 years old computer, and no problems at all.

    3. Making a big drama over a bluescreen for an updated labeled as preview is ridiculous.

    This is probably another BS internet drama where people ran programs and scripts that modified the registry until they broke Windows, just for removing stuff that they weren’t even using just for the sake of it.
    Maybe people should stop playing geeks and actually either use Windows 10 or Windows 11, but don’t try to modify things just for the sake of it.

    Sometimes removing or stopping things (like defender is a perfect example) only need intelligence, not scripts or 3rd party programs that might mess with windows.

  8. john said on August 24, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    Windows 11 was a pointless release, it was just created because some of the Windows team wanted to boost sales with some sort of new and improved Windows 10. Instead, Microsoft cannot support one version well let alone two.

    1. John G. said on August 25, 2023 at 12:08 pm

      Windows 11 is the worst ugly shame by Microsoft ever. They should release with every new W11 version a complete free version of Starallback inside just to make this sh** OS functionally again.

  9. EP said on August 25, 2023 at 3:10 pm

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released a statement regarding the “unsupported processor” blue screen error for their boards using Intel 600/700 series chipsets & to avoid the KB5029351 Win11 update:–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–Error-Message-of-Windows-11-Update-KB5029351-Preview-142215

  10. EP said on August 29, 2023 at 7:32 pm

    check out the following recent articles:

    Neowin – Microsoft puts little blame on its Windows update after UNSUPPORTED PROCESSOR BSOD bug:

    BleepingComputer – Microsoft blames ‘unsupported processor’ blue screens on OEM vendors:

  11. Leonard Britvolli said on August 30, 2023 at 10:33 pm

    While there may be changes or updates to the Windows 10 Store for Business and Education in the future, it is premature to conclude that it will be discontinued based solely on rumors.

  12. sembrador said on September 5, 2023 at 9:32 pm

    My advice, I left win 15 years ago. Now I’m a happy linux user (linuxmint) but there is Centos, Fedora, Ubuntu depending on your needs.

  13. EP said on September 6, 2023 at 11:55 am

    motherboard maker MSI has recently released new BIOS/firmware updates for their Intel 600 & 700 series motherboards to fix the “UNSUPPORTED_PROCESSOR” problem (Sept. 6):–UNSUPPORTED-PROCESSOR–caused-BSOD-on-MSI-s-Intel-700-and-600-Series-Motherboards-142277

  14. Raphael Benzo said on September 24, 2023 at 9:52 pm

    I try to disable the Diagnostics Tracking Service (Connected Devices Platform User Services) but it wont let me disable it, any help will be greatly appreciated.
    Tank you for your help

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