Why a Computer Won't Recognize a Battery
By Elizabeth Falwell
While desktop computers are plugged directly into an electrical outlet to obtain power, laptops rely on a battery and power cord in order to be charged. If your laptop suddenly stops recognizing this battery pack, however, it could jeopardize your ability to charge your computer and ultimately work on it at all.
Inspect the Battery
With the battery unplugged, carefully examine your laptop's battery, both the battery unit itself and any cords or plugs attached to it. Make sure the battery's case is not cracked or damaged. Look for fraying cords and bent prongs on the plug. Any of these issues could cause internal damage to the battery itself, the cable or the plug, which could interrupt the flow of electricity between the battery or electrical outlet and your laptop. If your laptop is still under warranty, you may be able to get a free replacement for a damaged battery or cable.
Check The Port
Damage to the port on the back of your laptop -- the one into which you insert the power cord -- could cause your laptop not to recognize your battery or any cables attached to it. Turn off your laptop and turn it around so you have a clear view of this port. Using a flashlight to illuminate the port, inspect it for any dirt or debris that may have become jammed inside; gently remove any debris with a small cotton swab. A bent prong could also interrupt the circuit, making it difficult for the battery to transfer energy from the power cord to the laptop; straighten a bent prong using needle nose pliers. Avoid making invasive repairs, especially if your product is under warranty; any damage you do to the laptop in an effort to fix it could nullify the terms of your warranty.
Wrong Kind Of Battery
Some brands of laptops, such as Dell, will not recognize a battery that wasn't manufactured by the same company. To make sure that your battery is compatible with your laptop, consult your laptop's user guide for battery specifications (these will vary based on make and model of your laptop).
Laptop batteries have a limited lifespan. After so many charges, they may be unable to transfer enough power from your electrical outlet to your laptop. When your battery reaches this point, a replacement may be your best option.
Updating the "BIOS" on your laptop can help the unit better detect and recognize external hardware such as a battery. BIOS -- which stands for Basic Input/Output System -- assists in booting up your laptop, and helps run every function until you turn it off. Computer manufacturers release BIOS updates for their products routinely; these updates can be downloaded from the company's website as ".exe" files. Run and save this update on your laptop, then restart it to see if your laptop now recognizes the battery.
Mac users can reset the laptop's System Management Controller (SMC). Apple reports that sometimes, otherwise unexplained errors pop up in the laptop's system, including problems with the battery's ability to charge. To reset the SMC, turn off the laptop and remove the battery. Hold down the "Power" button for five seconds and release before plugging the battery back in and turning the laptop on.
Elizabeth Falwell has been writing for the TV news industry since 2005. Her work has appeared on WXII 12 News, WMGT 41 News, NewParent.com and multiple parenting blogs. A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School at Syracuse University, Falwell holds a Master of Science in broadcast journalism.