In order to lower the power usage and enhance the battery life, MS Windows puts a lot of your hardware into low power modes (if they support it) when running on battery. However, though it helps to enhance the battery life, it also can create few ‘side effects’ as well.
For instance, if you’re connected to a wireless network or to the Internet using ‘Wi-Fi’, then when Windows puts the ‘Wi-Fi’ adapter into a low power mode and that can sometimes slow down your Wi-Fi based network connections. That’s because, when Windows puts the Wi-Fi adapter into low power modes, the adapter reduces its network bandwidth (download/upload rates) and its responsiveness, in order to save power.
And specially due to this responsiveness reduction, sometimes when I unplug the AC adapter of my laptop, all of a sudden my Internet connection slows down. Even when its working well, sometimes the data flow doesn’t feel ‘fluid’ (the connection seems to be stuck for few seconds).
Though this doesn’t happen all the time, but I do notice a change in the performance when the laptop is running using the battery. Now, this is understandable and it is supposed to happen, but, if you want your Wi-Fi adapter to perform at its best (or at least not at its worst :)), then there’s a simple trick that you can do in Windows Vista & 7 (not sure where it’s located in the older versions) which should fix this issue.
Windows comes with a feature called ‘power plans’, which are nothing but ‘profiles’ that apply power management tweaks to your hardware. And by using multiple profiles you can put different (individual) hardware into different power modes, with ease.
The easiest option here is to use the built in ‘power plan’ called ‘High performance’. However, by doing so, it’ll disable a lot of power saving features of the computer’s hardware and will run them at their best, thus significantly shortening the battery life. So the best option is to create a new ‘power plan’ profile and only make sure that the Wi-Fi adapter is set to its ‘Maximum performance’ mode where other hardware run on ‘Balanced’ or ‘Power saver’ modes.
Let’s do it.
1. First, from the notification area of your taskbar, click on the battery icon and from the menu choose ‘More power options’.
2. Then from the next window you get, click on ‘Create a power plan’ option (from the left side).
3. In the next window, you can choose between built in profiles that will apply power saving related settings into to the one that we’re creating.
I like to choose the ‘Balanced (recommended)’ profile, but you can choose something like the ‘Power saver’ if you want other hardware to be run in their lowest performance too.
After that, under the ‘Plan name’ give your preferred name, for this example, I’m calling it ‘Balanced (with Enhanced Wi-Fi)’, and then click the ‘Next’ button.
4. Now in the next window you can choose the default display brightness, stand-by time etc. You can customize it according to your preferences or can leave it as it is. Once that’s done, click on the ‘Create’ button to save the changes.
5. As soon as you do that, you’ll be taken into a window similar to the below one. Now under the newly created ‘Balanced (with Enhanced Wi-Fi)’ option, click on the text called ‘Change plan settings’.
Then from the next window, click on ‘Change advanced power settings’ option (located at the bottom of the left side).
6. This should open a window similar to the below one. From its window, scroll down and navigate to: ‘Wireless Adapter Settings’ -> ‘Power Saving Mode’ -> ‘On battery’.
The default mode is called ‘Medium power saving’ (if you used the ‘Balanced (recommended)’ profile in step 3). Now click on it and from the drop-down menu, you can choose ‘Maximum performance’ for the best possible performance, but if you think that’s too aggressive, you can try choosing ‘Low Power Saving’ and observe the network performance and if it doesn’t fix your issue then choose the ‘Maximum performance’ option.
After making your changes, click on the ‘Apply’ -- ‘OK’ buttons. That’s it, now you’re done!.
Now whenever you’re running using the battery make sure to choose the ‘power plan’ that we just created and the Wi-Fi adapter will be running it its ‘Maximum performance’ mode. But other hardware will run in aggressive power saving modes (depending on the profile that you choose in the step 3).
Please remember that this won’t fix all of your Wi-Fi related issues, but it has come in handy to me :D.