Computer Will Not Boot

| April 28, 2010

There are countless reasons why a computer will not boot. Typical symptoms for a computer that will not start are a blank screen, a blue screen, a never ending loop of restarting or a PC that is completely dead. Now there are also several reasons for each of those symptoms. Troubleshooting a computer that will not boot up can be a slow process, but if you tackle each of those symptoms, you can quickly rule them out and get to the real problem faster than you think.

Computer Will Not Boot Symptoms

My Computer Has A Blank Screen

If your computer starts up, makes hard drive churning sounds, has lights on the panel flash but only displays a blank screen, you could several problems. You need to first confirm that the monitor is powering on and has the cables securely connected to the PC. You might even test the monitor on another PC to rule that out. If the monitor is good, make sure your PC is getting that init1al start-up screen where is checks the memory and displays BIOS information. If you do get that screen, try tapping F8 until you see a boot screen that gives you an option for Safe Mode. If you can get into Safe Mode, it could be a video driver issue.

If you cannot get to Safe Mode, we need to next rule of the hardware of the computer. We recommend downloading and burning a Linux Live CD. By booting to a Linux Live CD, this rules out problems with the memory, the video card, the motherboard and most other devices connected to the PC. If you’re able to do this, you likely have a problem with your hard drive or the Windows installation on that drive. Try reinstalling Windows.

My Computer Keeps Restarting

If your PC restarts and gets stuck in a loop of rebooting, this probably means you either have bad RAM, a corrupt hard drive or some other problem within the Windows Operating System. If you want to check your RAM for errors, try memetest86. You can also try booting to Safe Mode by tapping F8 when you first boot the computer. If you can get into Safe Mode, try a chkdsk in Windows. Chkdsk is available in Windows 2000 and Windows XP.  To run a chkdsk, go to My Computer and right-click the drive you want to scan, then select Properties.  Under the Tools tab, you will see a section for Error Checking.  Click Check Now. and make sure the automatically fix errors box is marked. If none of that works, backup any data you can and reinstall Windows.

Computer is Completely Dead

If your computer will not power up at all, you could have a problem with the power supply, the motherboard, the CPU or even the case switch. The first thing you should do is disconnect any external devices–like speakers, printers, scanners, etc. Next, if your PC is plugged into a power strip, try plugging directly into the wall, as power strips can fail. If it still won’t power on, you should test the power supply to make sure you are getting the necessary voltage to the motherboard. If the power supply is good, try bypassing the case switch. If you are still getting no power, examine the motherboard for obvious damage to the capacitors. If they appear to be bulging or leaking fluid, then the capacitors have blown.

Computer Will Not Boot Conclusion

There isn’t much you can do to fix a hardware component except replace it. But if your problem appears to be software related, you can always reinstall Windows if you have a Windows installation disk or a recovery disk from a major brand name like Dell or HP. The key to surviving a problem is to have current backups. Get on a schedule or get a third party service, like Carbonite, to automate the process.

Resolution Summary:

  1. Check the monitor to make sure it’s working. Check its cable or test the monitor on another PC.
  2. Try a Linux Live CD to rule out most hardware problems.
  3. Test your RAM with memtest86.
  4. Boot to Safe Mode and try chkdsk.
  5. Test the power supply, the case switch and look for signs of damage on the motherboard.
  6. If all else fails, reinstall Windows.

Category: Troubleshoot


About the Author ()

Dave has been providing free computer repair and tech support advice online since 2002. Join us on our forums and be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for weekly tips and other helpful computer articles. Connect with me on: Google+

Comments (13)

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  1. donna murphy says:

    acer will not boot..It beeps and blank screen

  2. susanta mondal says:

    it is a very good help line for new users and people who are very much interested in computer repairing and technology. I had similar type of rebooting problem mentioned in your site and called in a repairer what he did with my computer is very similar to that what here is described.

    I have been searching for this types of sites where I can learn repairing techniques and be able to solve my own computer related problems ……….
    Now I am glad to find such a site hope this will help me in future…..
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. mike says:

    I have a “Power Spec 4984″ computer that wont boot up anymore. The only change I made was to disconnect and reconnect the cd drive and since then it is stuck on a screen that displays the name and Intell logos.Upon closer inspection I found that 1 of the 2 HDD’s was jumpered as a single master drive…not sure how comp worked with it set to that. I have tried replacing both drives with a new (good) one and still have same problem. I have also tried disconnecting both HDD’s and starting it up only to get a screen saying HDD failure and to enter a system disk but the cd drive refuses to open (it worked fine before this problem). I have talked to a couple of techs and they claim it is a hardware problem. I have run out of ideas. Can anyone help me PLEASE?

    • Dave Dave says:

      If you have two HDDs, make sure the are both set to cable select of to master and slave. Also, make sure the BIOS is set to Auto Detect. If you continue to have problems, please join our forums so everyone can help.

  4. R.Skinner says:

    Writing style of this first page excellent, makes one feel confident that solutions to complicated problems can be found.

  5. A. Hilford says:

    i have been given a laptop which is a compaq. When the start button is pushed the blue light glows for about 10 seconds then goes out,nothing else happens.
    Any idea what could be the problem ? thanks

  6. Evan Jones says:

    Hi my computer an Acer M1640 is about two and a half years old, my problem is as follows.
    When I switch on tower and screen the screen displays the Acer logo and then NO SIGNAL and then goes blank. The tower light stays on and the CD tray operates and the fans work on the computer. It is as though the computer goes into sleep mode before it shows the BIOS and I can’t wake it up because it cuts power to the key board and mouse. Have checked the mouse and keyboard do work on my other computer so can not be faulty. Regards Evan

  7. mary says:


  8. david clement says:

    hello i have a dell xps 400, its running with windows 7 ultimate and it was running fine, then the morning after i looked at it and it said press f1 to boot, everytime i would press it, it would beep, so i restarted it, it got to the login and let me log in after waiting 5 minutes compared to normal 30 seconds, afer i logged in it showed and empty desktop then restarted again, any ideas???

  9. James says:

    When my computer restarts, if i use the F8 trick, it does a series of what seems like 100 very rapid beeps. Then goes to the screen where it asks me if I want to start windows normally or in safemode, the problem is that once i get to that screen for some reason, the computer cuts power to the keyboard rendering it useless and leaving me unable to make a selection. Its a very very old south american computer running windows XP. thanks for your help!

    • Dave Dave says:

      Are you sure you do not have a stuck key? Aside from that I’m not sure what could be causing the issue, but it does sound like a hardware problem. Join our free forums and we can help you troubleshoot more.