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How do I use an old laptop as a battery backup during a hurricane blackout?



This is when the Hoarder could have the right idea. As Hurricane Florence approached, I remembered one of my own experiences, when Superstorm Sandy arrived in New York in 2012 .

At that time, out of great caution, I pulled a large, bulky, otherwise useless laptop out of a cupboard and pocketed it to fully charge it. When all of downtown Manhattan ran out of power, the big battery in the old laptop stopped my phone for at least a couple of days.

  21 Gaming Laptops

Hang on old laptops just in case.


Sarah Tew / CNET

The same advice applies today, and every time a power failure is possible, I do the same. If you have old laptops that are still charged with batteries, even if the screens, touchpads, or wireless antennas do not work, there is a good chance that the USB ports will continue to charge your phone or other small device. Many laptops even charge devices with a USB port in standby mode to save even more power later.

Since writing this original story six years ago, things have changed that need to be considered. Now it is no longer a matter of course to find a conventional USB port (called USB-A) on a laptop. Many newer laptops, including almost all MacBooks have only USB-C ports. These ports are smaller and more flexible, but require a different type of cable. Make sure you have the correct charging cable or adapter (for example, a cable Lightning-to-USB-C ) to connect a phone to the laptop.

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A USB-C to USB-A adapter can be very handy.


Sarah Tew / CNET

All this advice applies to your everyday laptop, which should be charged as a precaution. And ff you plan to pull a Marie Kondo and recycle old electronics, stick to these obsolete laptops until the storm is over, and you could make part of life easier by having a power outage.

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