My Computer Won't Start
It's pretty scary when your computer won't start. The cause may be easy to find and fix, or it may take a trained technician and hundreds of dollars. Here are some troubleshooting tips you can try when your computer won't start...
Solving Startup Problems
There's an old joke about a TV repairman who makes a house call, and after a few seconds he gives the lady of the house a bill for $75 and says it's all fixed. When she asks what the problem was he says "Your unit was isolated from the primary power supply." The woman asks what that means and he says "Your TV was unplugged."
So if nothing at all happens when you turn on the power, check the electrical supply before embarrassing yourself. Begin at the wall outlet. Plug a lamp or other small appliance into the outlet and verify that power is flowing. Check the circuit breaker switch on your surge protector. Check both ends of the computer's power cord. On some computers, it plugs into both the wall and the back of the system unit. If you still see no lights and hear no fan, the system's internal power supply may need to be replaced. See my related article Replace Your Power Supply for help with that.
You may get power but see only a cryptic text message on a dark screen. That's usually an error message from your computer's BIOS telling you it cannot find the boot drive. This could mean the BIOS has lost its stored settings for your hard drive. Worst case, your hard drive controller has died and must be replaced. But don't worry; your data is probably still safely stored on the drive. If the BIOS error occurs right after you install a new piece of hardware, try removing that hardware and re-installing it firmly. In fact, you should check all cable connections inside of the computer to make sure none is loose.
If the computer stops while loading Windows, try rebooting in Safe mode. If Safe mode works, the problem may be a corrupted file that is trying to load during startup. Run the disk error check and clean-up utility by following this procedure:
- Right-click on the boot drive in Computer
- Click on Properties and the Tools tab
- Click the "Check now" button under "error-checking" and check "automatically fix errors"
System Recovery Options
If Windows won't load in Safe mode, try the Recovery Console option on the startup options menu that appears right before Windows loads. You may be able to restore an earlier Restore Point when things were working. See my article on Windows 7 Hard Drive Recovery for help with the recovery options.
A virus may be preventing your computer from starting. If you have a bootable removable drive (sometimes called an Emergency Disk) with an antivirus program on it, start up your computer with that disk in the CD/DVD drive and let it scan and remove any viruses. Alternatively, you can remove the drive from your computer, attach it as an external drive to a working computer, and scan it for viruses.
A computer that won't start can be a maddening experience. Even a hands-on soldering iron type of geek can easily spend hours troubleshooting startup problems. Non-technical users may make things worse while trying to fix them.
If none of these suggestions get you up and running, you may need to reformat and re-install everything from backup copies. But if you're not comfortable with doing that yourself, the best solution for a computer that won't start may be taking it to a qualified repair shop.
Do you have any tips for reviving a computer that won't boot up? Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 2 May 2011
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- My Computer Won't Start (Posted: 2 May 2011)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved