How to Fix a Computer That Cannot Start


There are steps you can take to troubleshoot a computer that will not start up. These instructions will not involve opening up the case.

If your computer is still under warranty, do not open up the computer. Instead, allow the computer vendor to honor the warranty. The term “computer technician” used throughout this article could mean a friend or family member who is sharp with fixing computers and does it for free or it could be a paid computer repair technician.

If no power is applied when you press the on button or turn on the on switch, check for power. Make sure that the wall outlet has power first by plugging a lamp or some other device that you know works on another working outlet. Check if the power plug is attached to the power strip, surge protector, uninterrupted power supply or wall. Also check if the cord is attached tightly on the computer case.

If you are using a power strip, surge protector, backup power supply, or uninterrupted power supply, verify if they are on too. Some have lights to make it easy to check but others have a simple on and off switch too.

If you have a desktop computer, check the metal power supply (usually) on the back of the computer. The are normally gray or silver in color with a vent for a fan. Sometimes they have a on and off switch. Make sure that they are on the on position. They may be marked with a “I” symbol which usually means on and a “O” symbol which usually means off.

Examine the on and off switch on the computer. They are typically plastic and can get stuck or break. Try applying stronger force or hold the button longer to see if an electrical connection can be made to turn the computer on. You can try removing the front panel of the computer where the switch or button applies contact. You will see another switch or button. Press it to see if the computer will turn on.

Note: All desktop computers will have some form of a front cover where the disk drives can be seen. Some covers may be simple to remove while impossible for others. A small flat screw driver can aid in prying the cover open.

Another troubleshooting check is the display. Check the connection between PC and monitor. Ensure the power plug is connected properly. If there is no power to the display or if the display is bad, you will not be able to tell if the computer is working. If you suspect that the display is bad, you can either try the monitor on another known working computer in the house or friend’s house. If the display is bad, borrow another working monitor and connect to the computer to see if the computer is working.

Look for floppy disks (if you still us this) and disks that are still in the CD or DVD read or read/write device. Reboot the PC without the disk in the drive to see if the computer can boot normally.

If there are no disks and you cannot start your computer, you will need to see if it is possible to install Windows. Insert the Windows CD or Recovery CD with Windows in the drive and see if the installation program starts. If it does, then your PC is still functioning and my need Windows reinstalled. However, you will need to back up data before you install a new Windows operating system.

Notes: If you cannot even open your CD or DVD drive then your computer may not have power or cannot get power you will need help from a computer technician. If you do not know how to backup your data consult a computer tech.

If you are unable to run the Windows installation disk then other parts inside of the computer could be damaged. The motherboard, the processor, power supply, or other component could be fried. Troubleshooting which part is tedious but not too difficult. The reason why it is tedious is because you would have to swap working computer parts with parts that you know works.

If you are comfortable in opening up a computer and swapping a part with a good part test the PC to see if the part works. If the computer turns on and operates normally then it was the part that was replaced that is broken.

If you are not comfortable, do not attempt to fix the PC. Get a computer technician to perform the repair. Some technicians are very expensive and you will have to judge for yourself if the cost of repair is worth it versus buying a new computer. If you do buy a new computer, it may be worth purchasing a service contract that will allow you have a technician visit the house to do the repair on site.

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carcro 5 years ago from Winnipeg

Really good advise especially for all those novice users. I know so many people that are totally lost when anything goes wrong, they could really use this kind of help! Thanks for the info!

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