This is one of those programs that ostensibly does so little, but in fact can have a significant impact on your notebook’s battery life.
Aerofoil is a small, free app for Windows Vista and Windows 7 that reduces your computer’s power consumption whenever it is running on battery. It does this by automatically switching off some features, namely the Windows Vista/7 Aero glass interface, the Windows sidebar, muting the sound whenever your notebook is running on battery.
More interestingly, it can also switch across different Windows power plans, enabling one power plan when plugged in and a different one when running on battery.
The Aerofoil icon in the system tray also provides a very quick and easy way to toggle the Windows Aero Glass interface on and off, useful for conserving CPU resources if and when you need to.
Four things I like about Aerofoil:
1- Manages your computer’s power plans: enables different power plans for when your notebook is plugged into the AC adapter vs. when it is running on battery. Typically, Windows power plans ask the user to determine the behavior he/she prefers when running on battery vs. on AC adapter, but only for whether to turn off your display or put your computer to sleep. However, there are many advanced power settings that apply universally whether you are plugged in or not.
The bottom line is that with Aerofoil you can have the “Power Saver” power plan running when your notebook is on battery, and the “High Performance” power plan when you’re plugged in, giving you the best of both worlds.
2- Windows Aero Glass interface: actually consumes a (relatively) high amount of resources. Aerofoil will turn it off when running on battery, such that the CPU can use your limited electrical charge to perform other, more pertinent tasks. But Aerofoil also provides an easy way to turn it off and on at will whenever you’re running low on resources in general.
3- Consumes minimal resources: Aerofoil takes up slightly more than 1 meg in memory, is “passive” software that doesn’t do any polling or cause CPU waiting, and doesn’t actually alter any power plan settings. The source code is downloadable from the website.
The verdict: a simple idea that can have a significant impact on your notebook’s power consumption, and at such a low cost on your computer’s resources. The Aerofoil review on Netbooknews reports up to a 25% extension in notebook battery life. I highly recommend this software.
Version Tested: 1.5.1
Compatibility: Windows Vista, Windows 7. Both 32 bit and 64 bit versions are available (make sure to download the right one for your system).
Go to the program home page to download the latest version (approx 720K).