Why You Should Install The USB 2.0 Battery Drain Patch
At least as far back as July of last year Microsoft knew that there was a bug in Windows XP SP2 that could drain life from a portable computer's battery if a USB 2.0 device like an external hard disk drive or an internal TV tuner/video capture card was connected and turned on. The device didn't actually have to be doing anything, it just had to be there and powered on.
Microsoft announced the problem to OEMs and others, but not to the general public. The company also released a simple patch for the problem. Microsoft said it was concerned that the patch did not go through extensive testing and that it might do more harm than good. So it was not made available to the general public.
Our friends at Tom's Hardware Germany discovered and confirmed the battery drain problem. The staff at TG Daily interviewed folks at both Intel and Microsoft to get the facts and uncovered an explanation for the problem. I did tests on a number of laptops and notebooks and replicated the problem. We were able to get our hands on the early patch, which I tested and found to work fairly well.
Microsoft released a production version of the patch for the USB power drain problem in May of this year. This patch was significantly more complex and comprehensive than the original limited release patch. I tested the patch in early June with an HP Compaq nx7400 notebook computer and reported the following in the pages of TG Daily:
"At maximum brightness, the notebook turned in a running time of 184 minutes without the patch and without a connected USB 2.0 hard drive. We then connected our drive, which caused the battery time to drop by about 16% to 155 minutes. After installing the patch, the running time jumped back up to 185 minutes. We observed a similar scenario with minimum brightness settings. An initial time of 250 minutes decreased by about 20% to 199 minutes when the drive was connected. With the patch installed, the nx7400 regained lost battery time and checked in at 248 minutes."
On the next page I'll tell you how to download the patch and install it.