Although computers and their operating systems are far more reliable than they once were, problems do still occur. Even though the dreaded blue screen error message followed by a system lockup is a rarity in more recent versions of Windows, you may still encounter them from time to time, particularly when making major system modifications or upgrades. In some cases, you may find that your computer inexplicably refuses to boot at all when you turn it on, even if everything seemed to be fine the last time you were using it. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the key troubleshooting steps to get your computer up and running again.
1 – Disconnect Non-Essential Hardware
If a computer does not turn on, the problem is often due to a simple hardware problem. The first thing to try is disconnecting all non-essential hardware, such as printers, scanners, external hard drives, USB flash drives and anything else that you have connected to a USB or FireWire port. Additionally, be sure that your CD/DVD drive is empty, since a computer refusing to boot is often due to it trying to boot from a storage device that does not contain a functioning operating system. In the event that this still does not work, you may want to try disconnecting internal components such as any additional hard drives or non-essential add-in cards.
2 – Check Your BIOS Settings
The BIOS is your computer’s primary setup utility, and it operates completely independently from Windows or any other operating system or software that you have installed. The BIOS is basically a program stored on a chip on the computer’s motherboard, allowing you to access it even if you don’t have a hard drive installed. With most computers, you can access the BIOS utility by repeatedly tapping the DEL or F2 key as soon as you turn on the computer. Try resetting the BIOS to factory defaults, and if this does not work, refer to your motherboard or computer manual for performing a hard reset by moving the jumper switch on the motherboard.
3 – Check the Power Supply
If the computer won’t turn on at all, the problem may well lie with a faulty hardware component, particularly the power supply. Power supplies do eventually need replacing, but before you give up on it, there are a few steps you should take. Firstly, if your power supply has a voltage switch on it, ensure that the voltage is set to the appropriate setting for your country. In North America, the correct voltage setting is 110/115, while in Europe, it is 220/230. Additionally, if you have just upgraded your processor or graphics card, your power supply may not be able to keep up, so double check to see if it meets the requirements of any recent hardware upgrades.
4 – Determine the Beep Code
If your computer refuses to start up, it may make a beeping sound through the internal speaker. This sound is actually a beep code used to provide an indication as to what is causing the problem. Beep codes vary depending on the manufacturer and model of your motherboard, so you may need to refer to the manual for more specific information. As a general rule, however, a single short beep should indicate that everything is fine, while a continuous or repeating beep typically indicates a problem with either the power supply or motherboard. There may also be other beep codes to indicate a problem with the graphics card or system memory.
5 – Reseat Internal Components
If you’ve recently upgraded or moved your computer, one of the internal components may have come loose, in which case a beep code will likely sound. Open up the cover and make certain that everything is properly connected. To be certain, remove the graphics card, memory modules and any additional expansion cards that you have installed before reseating them. Additionally, ensure that all power cables are properly connected. There will usually be two power cables from the power supply to the motherboard and two to a dedicated graphics card if you have one. Any hard disks or other storage devices should also have power cables connected to them.
6 – Clear the CMOS
As we established earlier, many problems can be fixed by changing a setting in the BIOS or by resetting it to factory defaults. However, in other cases, you may want to clear the on-board CMOS memory entirely, resetting absolutely everything to safe, factory-default settings. To clear the CMOS, you can either temporarily change the jumper switch location as shown in the schematics of your motherboard or by temporarily removing the battery on the motherboard. Whichever method you choose, make certain that the computer and any peripheral devices connected to it are turned off and disconnected from the mains.
7 – Use System Restore
If your computer will not boot up, but it still turns on, the issue likely lies with a problematic setting or damaged operating system. System Restore, as well as the other options in Windows’ Recovery Console, can fix a whole range of problems. To access the Recovery Console in Windows 8, tap F8 once you start up the computer, and you’ll be able to access the System Restore utility, as well as other useful troubleshooting utilities, through the Troubleshoot menu. However, if you cannot access the Recovery Console in this manner, try doing so by booting up from your Windows DVD.