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Fix For Toshiba Satellite "RTC Battery is Low" Error (with Pictures)

RTC Battery is Low Error on a Toshiba Satellite laptop

"RTC Battery is Low..." An error message flashing while you try to boot your laptop is enough to panic many people. But worry not!

"RTC Battery" stands for Real-Time Clock battery which almost all laptops and PCs have on their motherboard to power the clock and sometimes to also keep the CMOS settings from getting erased while the system is switched off. 

It is not uncommon for these batteries to last for years before requiring a replacement as the clock consumes very less power. And contrary to what some people tell you - they are not rechargeable or getting charged while your computer or laptop is running. In this article, we'll learn everything about RTC batteries and how to fix the error on your Toshiba Satellite laptop.

What is an RTC Battery?

RTC or CMOS batteries are small coin-shaped lithium batteries with a 3-volts output. Most laptops use a battery of model number CR2032. The "CR" in the model number signifies the battery's chemical composition which is "Lithium Manganese dioxide", it holds 3-volts and is in round form. 

Most newer laptops use the RTC batteries to power just the clock and the CMOS settings won't be affected despite a dead battery. Since the power requirement for the real-time clock is very minimal, most batteries will last at least 3-5 years before needing a replacement, some laptops may run their course without requiring a change as they become obsolete before the battery even dies. 

These batteries are not rechargeable but while the laptop is plugged in, the current from the power supply may slightly extend the battery life. Also, there are rechargeable variants of the same battery available (though with a different model number but with the exact same size and form), but since the motherboard of all laptops and PCs do not have a recharging system in place, they'll not be useful so I strongly recommend to only get CR2032 model battery. 

These batteries only cost about a dollar and you can replace them in your Toshiba Satellite laptop yourself.

How Serious is This Error: "RTC Battery is Low"?

While the error message tells you to press F2 and set the date/time, you can get away with pressing F2 which brings up the BIOS settings, and then immediately pressing ESC and then ENTER (when it asks you if you wish to exit the BIOS settings). 

You don't actually need to set the date and time, which can be very annoying as older laptops do not support a mouse and you'll have to rely on just the keyboard. You can set the date/time afterward when Windows boots up which would be easier. 

However, in most cases, this error is not critical and the only thing that this will affect is the fact that your computer's clock will reset every time you start your computer. 

In most modern OS like Windows 10 or 11, this will mean the time shown when you start your laptop will be the same as when you last shut it down. This is, however, very annoying as having to set the time each time can be cumbersome, and to make matters worse Windows will not help with syncing the time with its time servers either. 

Most people rely on the file creation and modification date and time in some manner or the other, and even if someone doesn't, many software will use them internally for their proper working. Therefore, even if this error doesn't prevent you from booting up your laptop or working on it, a low RTC battery error is one annoying problem that needs fixing, in my opinion..

How To Change The RTC or CMOS Battery in Toshiba Laptop?

Most laptops including Toshiba Satellite have a user-openable panel in the back which opens separately from the back cover and usually has access to RAM, HDD, and the RTC battery. 

If yours doesn't have this separate panel, you'll have to open the back cover but be extra careful as in many cases this is meant to be done only y trained technicians. If you're a DIY kind of person, you'll be able to do this fairly easily but I'd recommend searching for a disassembly video on YouTube for your exact model as an extra precaution and using a static discharge touchpad before touching any of the internals. Remember to power off your laptop and remove the power supply as well as the main battery (if it is user-removable) before opening the laptop.

Back cover with a separate panel secured with a screw

Most laptops would have a user-replaceable RTC battery and once you have located it, try popping it out by gently pressing on the metal slots to the side with the help of a small screwdriver or your fingernail. Take the battery out and put a new one in by first sliding it under the mentioned slot with the Positive (+) terminal facing up and then pressing it gently on the other side. This will make a clicking sound and secure the battery firmly in the socket. Verify that it is firmly in place and put the back cover on, avoiding any unnecessary touches to the motherboard or components.

Back panel open
Pop the battery out by sliding the metal slot and then prying the battery out with a flat screwdriver
This is how the battery compartment looks like
Place the battery under the metal slot and press it at the other end (marked with red)
New battery properly put in place

After having replaced the battery and put the back cover on, you can try booting your laptop, it might show the error once more. Set the date/time and try shutting it down and reboot again after 15 minutes to see if it has stopped showing the error.

What if I Can't Press F2?

You can try plugging in an external keyboard to see if you're able to press F2. If not replace the battery as described above but before you switch on the laptop, try pressing the power button (with the main laptop battery and AC power still not connected) for 30 seconds. 

After which put the battery back on or connect the AC power and try switching the laptop on. This should resolve the issue. If not, unfortunately, your only option would be to visit a technician.

What if Replacing the Battery Still Doesn't Resolve This Issue?

In the rarest case, a change of RTC battery may not resolve this error, fortunately, as I told you before this is mostly non-critical and would only affect the date/time which is, however, still a major nuisance. 

Also, Windows won't b able to keep the time in sync since the time difference would be too large for it to sync. Setting the date/time manually would be a chore and the only effective option left is to use a third-party clock synchronization tool. I recommend using NetTime with the following settings.

Add time server: time.google.com (Optional)
Update Interval: 2 hours
[Check] Start NetTime service at bootup

Max free run: 12 or 24 hours (depending on how frequently you switch off and on your laptop)

This would make sure your laptop always has the correct date/time after each boot as long as it has an active internet connection. The tool itself is small and lightweight and does all the work automatically without any user intervention. 

However, internally it is setting the date/time right after each boot and needs an internet connection. And, you'll still be getting the "RTC Battery Low" error every time. Though you can quickly bypass it by pressing F2, which brings up the BIOS settings, and then press ESC followed by ENTER. 

While this is still not a "fix", it is better than manually setting the date/time every time or running your laptop with the wrong date/time. Use it as a last resort when nothing else works.

Summary

RTC Batteries going bad is nothing out of the ordinary and is something that would happen to all people and all laptops unless you're someone who upgrades their laptop every year. RTC Batteries are user-replaceable in Toshiba Satellite like most other laptops. 

These batteries are meant to be replaced in 3-5 years but certain factors like infrequent use or a manufacturing defect can speed up this process. In most cases, you'll be able to fix this issue yourself and all you'll need is a Phillips screwdriver. 

The batteries do not cost much and there is no reason to go to a technician and be charged $50 for this simple task. However, if you're not completely comfortable doing this, it'd be better to have an expert do this for you. In any case, I hope this article helps you fix the "RTC Battery is Low" error on your Toshiba Satellite laptop.

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