Q&A: Is it possible to overcharge a laptop battery?

You’ve got tech questions, here are the answers. Kim Komando helps you make the most of your technology by answering your thorniest tech questions. So if you’re wondering what to buy, how to plug it in, or how to fix it, Kim can help.


Q. Is it possible to overcharge a laptop battery by leaving it plugged in?

A. The short answer is, “no.” Laptop batteries — and smartphone and tablet batteries — stop drawing electricity when full. So you can’t damage a battery by leaving it plugged in. However, Lithium-ion batteries — which most gadgets use — last longest if they stay between 20 and 80 percent full. So, you might want to unplug the laptop every now and then and let the battery drain a bit. For a laptop you can also remove the battery while it’s plugged in. However, the battery will drain while in storage. It can become damaged, even dangerous, if it sits empty too long. So, be sure to charge it regularly.


Q. Is it really possible to stop government spying?

A. This is the big question on everyone’s mind this year. Unfortunately, the answer isn’t one you want to hear. While there are things you can do to make spying harder, you can’t really stop it. The government has proven it can get into email, social media, phone records and even some “secure” browsing systems at will. Don’t forget the NSA just opened a new data center in Utah to hold this information long term. Your best option is to avoid putting anything online you don’t want the government to see. And the best privacy tool is still the closed door of your house.


Q. I’m going to toss my old, gross mouse pad. Do I need a new one or can I do without it?

A. Mouse pads were made to help the old ball-style mice. The ball needed a rubbery surface to grab onto. An optical mouse, which most people now have, doesn’t need a mouse pad, unless you’re on a glass or unusual surface. Newer laser mice will work on any surface. So, you only need to get a new mouse pad if you want one.

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