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Computer Batteries: Why?

Friday, April 27th, 2007 by | Filed Under: Uncategorized
 
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Q:
Can you tell me why computers need batteries? I was just thinking about it the other day and I thought I would ask.

A:
That’s a very interesting question! Once I read this question, I was like, “Hmmm, I’ve never really thought about that.” I mean, why do computers need batteries? Don’t they have enough power surging through them to work without a battery? Well, yes they do, but the battery actually serves some other functions. Come along with me as we learn all about it!

First of all, most computers do contain a little battery. It’s usually very small and just about the size of a quarter. The same type of batteries are used in other devices, such as digital cameras and camcorders as well. The battery isn’t visible though, as it is usually located right in the motherboard. They usually come in a type of small holder as well, so although you can’t see them very easily, they can be replaced without much trouble.

The main reason for the computer battery is to keep time. Yes, if you think about it, pretty much everything that keeps time requires a battery. Ha, who knew?! In a computer, the battery usually powers a small chip called the Real Time Clock (or RTC). The RTC usually runs at all times, even when the computer is not powered up. So, when you boot up your computer after it’s been turned off for awhile, the battery charges the RTC and it’s then able to clock the right time and date. Cool, huh?!

Now, the battery is not the only thing that the RTC is used for. It actually contains approximately 64 bytes of your computer’s RAM. The battery only uses 10 bytes of that, which leaves 54 bytes open for other uses. So, if you ever have trouble booting up your computer or if you have a wrong time and date once you get it turned on, it all ties in with the RTC.

It’s very important to keep the battery in good shape as well. If you don’t, you could run into more problems than just having the wrong time shown in the little corner of your desktop. The RTC is actually what is called a quartz watch and those types usually last around five to seven years. After that, you’ll definitely want to think about replacing the battery for your PC.

That’s all I’ve got. It was short and sweet, but at least you now know all about your computer and its battery. Don’t you just feel so educated?!

~ Erin

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