questionswhy won't my laptop battery charge?

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Batteries die after a while. For a 3+ year old battery, it's expected.

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Like @narfcake said, batteries only have a certain life. With rechargeables, the more they are charged the less use you get....they are not permanent power sources.

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Three years is a pretty long time for a laptop battery to function.

HP put out a good battery life guide here: http://h20271.www2.hp.com/SMB-AP/cache/122140-0-0-155-121.html

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You can run your laptop without a battery.
Please recycle your old battery.

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It is likely dead or dying, but i think it is strange that the laptop powers off immediately, usually you can get a couple seconds or minutes. I would possibly find a friend with the same (or similar) laptop and a good battery to test in your laptop before you buy a replacement, in case its somehow your laptop hardware.

Also, is this a sudden problem? Was it holding charge and lasting fine just the other day? Or has this been gradual and a long time coming?

FWIW I have an HP laptop from 2006 which is still running fine, and when I unplug it I can get about 5-10 minutes out of its battery before it dies. YMMV I guess.

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@countdown: Dying immediately happens if you keep the battery past the "holds a charge a few seconds or minutes" phase. Because at some point, the laptop battery will go below the threshold of even allowing the charger circuit to operate, otherwise it would short out the charger.

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thanks for responses. i will update when new battery comes :)

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got a new battery. works like a charm! :)