It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
Did this website help you fix your computer? Please consider making a donation so I can make the site better!
I have a 2009 MacBook Pro, the battery has 250 cycles on it but it says service battery. Does this mean I have to replace the battery soon ?
Service alerts are like the "check engine" light in your car -- they are set off when certain thresholds are passed (miles, load cycles, etc.), but they do not necessarily mean that something is wrong with your car, or your battery. The less severe alerts are "service battery" or "check battery", and the more severe ones are "replace soon" and "replace now".
250 load cycles represent about 2 years of typical use, and it is a reasonable amount for a used battery to have, so I'm surprised you would be getting an alert based on cycles. Try downloading the great free utility Coconut Battery:
It gives you everything you need to know about your battery, including the most relevant marker, "current capacity", or "full charge capacity", as they now call it. This tells you how much of the original capacity your battery still has. The capacity of batteries shrinks over time -- in a year or two you might only have 80% of the original 100% capacity. 80-90% is actually not bad for a battery that is a couple years old.
I believe most batteries start triggering service alerts when they have around 350 load cycles and/or 75% of the original capacity. I can't know for sure, because we don't know the exact calculation the operating system does (and by the way, different operating systems will give different service alerts at different times).
So, long story short, if you battery is functioning well, has substantial capacity, and it's not swelling up (trackpad is not becoming hard to click on, etc.), then I wouldn't worry too much about it.
If you're interested, I made a video with yet more details on this topic: