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I dual-booted my laptop with Ubuntu 17 and Windows 10 one year back.

After one year, my laptop battery backup has reduced to 40 minutes.

Does having multiple OSes on a laptop harm the battery or reduce its life?

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    Does dual booting harms the battery ? No.
    – Akina
    Jul 29 '19 at 11:33
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    Do not believe this tale. Either you have wrong instance of the battery, or you violated the terms of its use (for example, allowed a deep discharge when it is not recommended), or the laptop's (inner) battery charging unit is defective.
    – Akina
    Jul 29 '19 at 11:39
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    Simply using the device harms the battery over time. That's why runtimes decrease. Counterintuitively, NOT using the device also harms the battery over time. You just can't win.
    – Criggie
    Jul 29 '19 at 21:46
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    The battery existing harms the battery life. A Li-Ion, kept in perfect storage conditions, will lose about half its maximum capacity after 1.5-2 years. Any use drops that number. Out-of-spec use (deep discharge, incorrect charging, overcharging) drops it faster.
    – Nelson
    Jul 30 '19 at 4:00
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    Dual booting is like buying a second car. It might get better or worse mileage, but you won't become twice as likely to die because you got a second car...
    – user541686
    Jul 30 '19 at 9:52
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Does having multiple OS on laptop harms the battery or reduces it's life?

As @Akina has mentioned in the comments, no. Having multiple OS on your laptop has nothing to do with battery usage. The laptop hardware uses the battery, not the OS. And on top of that, only one OS is active at a time.

The only noticeable difference you can see is the drivers' quality on Linux. In some of my cases Linux was using more battery than Windows which was caused by low quality drivers. And then again, this isn't a deciding factor for when a battery wears out. Batteries get worn out mostly by age.

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    Just to supplement the answer, it's not just age that affects battery life. Batteries have a limited number of recharge cycles, often in the range of 500. If you use and recharge the laptop every day, that's 16 months of life. If you added Ubuntu a year ago, and the laptop already had some usage on it, that would be about right for the battery life.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 30 '19 at 0:52
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    @fixer1234: it's not just age either: Lithium-ion batteries "wear out" from just sitting there at 100% charge faster than from sitting at 50 to 70% charge. Especially at higher temperature. (The exact voltage that your laptop's battery-charger chooses to stop at and call "100%" is a choice they can make between durability/lifetime vs. initial capacity.) batteryuniversity.com/learn/article/…. Some laptops even have a firmware option to hold the batteries at ~50% when the laptop is on AC power for extended time. Jul 30 '19 at 4:44
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Short answer: No.

Long answer: The number of operating systems present in a computer has nothing to do with the battery lifespan. Even if you have a ton of operating systems, only one can run at a time. Therefore, the battery would work the same way it does in a single-boot computer. Batteries naturally wear out with time due to a ton of factors which include but are not limited to:

  • Charge frequency
  • Age
  • Ratio of the time the battery is being used to the time it isn't.

I hope this explanation helps.

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My immediate reaction is similar to the other answers, that having any number of OS'es on a given system would not affect its battery life.

But, as touched upon by the issue about poor drivers, there is the perspective that part of battery life is battery maintenance. That maintenance may very well be controlled by software -- and there you may have (wildly) different quality across operating systems.

In the olden days when ThinkPads were still firmly IBM hardware (and battery technology was different), we had some very well-working (Windows!) "ThinkVantage" drivers that you could ask to either (a) ensure that the battery charge was always optimal from a battery-life point of view, or to (b) ensure that you had the maximum charge available before undocking (these two are to some degree conflicting goals, for reasons @PeterCordes mentions). These days, I have not seen any laptop-management software on par with what the ThinkVantage suite offered back then (even its modern namesake has diminished significantly in quality).

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    So it isn't dual booting that does it, it's what OSes you use in the process? If you single booted Ubuntu, it would be even worse? If so, dual booting is an improvement because you use the more efficient OS at least some of the time.
    – fixer1234
    Jul 30 '19 at 18:13
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    @fixer1234 You can't say that generally. If your hardware is properly supported, there is a large chance Ubuntu (or any better Linux) will last longer than Windows. If on the other hand Linux doesn't even support suspense/hibernate on your hardware, likely Windows will last longer for average use cases.
    – Nobody
    Jul 30 '19 at 18:23
  • @Nobody, yeah, I was being facetious; pointing out the fallacy in the answer as a response to the question. :-)
    – fixer1234
    Jul 30 '19 at 19:17
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    On Linux, you can use tlp to set custom battery charge levels on a Thinkpad. And actually, overall, the current hardware support for Linux on Thinkpads isn't that bad. Jul 30 '19 at 21:51
  • @KlaymenDK Did you know you can get a link to any comment by right-clicking on the date and copying the link to your clipboard?
    – jpaugh
    Jul 31 '19 at 20:57
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Yes. Heat kills batteries, and sometimes the operating system is largely responsible for minimizing heat.

Running a new operating system has the potential to cause some harm if the complete thermal management solution is not supported. When software mitigations to reduce temperature cannot be used due to partial or missing driver support for heat generating devices, then the hardware and firmware safeties are all that is available. These hardware based safeties are to prevent danger to the user, and may be inadequate to prevent damage to the hardware (especially the battery) over long term use.

More and more we are seeing factory cooling systems that are inadequate for system power levels with software power management and throttling being relied upon to stay cool (see the i9 macbook pro for a premium example), so as time goes on this is increasingly likely. Another particularly good example of operating system ensured safety is the daisy sound chip in early arm chromebooks, which without safe limits in place, can physically melt the attached speakers when used with a non-chromeos system.

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    Fixer's comment applies equally well here -- this is a problem with running a particular OS, not with dual-booting.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jul 31 '19 at 4:49
  • @Silver I agree with you in the abstract, but I also trust Ubuntu more than I trust Windows. (Often, but not always, Linux drivers will make conservative guesses about what hardware can support, since they often don't know for sure; this can make it more reliable than drivers that think they know what hardware can support, and overshoot the mark.)
    – jpaugh
    Jul 31 '19 at 20:53

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