Computer Will Not Boot Troubleshooting Suggestions

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

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 initial 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 computer will not boot because it is stuck in a reboot loop, 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 boot because it 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.

Summary For Troubleshooting a computer that will not boot

  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.

About the Author: Dave

David is a tech professional with over fifteen years of experience in the IT fields of hardware, software and system administration.


  1. 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!

  2. Help. I have a HP Pavilion a1310n Windows XP. Recently when I went to plug in earphones the PC completely shut down, possible static shock. I waited 30-40 seconds, turned it back on and all was well. Then after shutting the PC down when I turned back on the next day all that happened was the fans came on somewhat louder than normal and that is all. Nothing came up on screen or any other noises.

    I don’t know it this other problem is related but occasionally my mouse would fight me, but mostly if playing a solitaire game. I would try to move a card and would have trouble moving it, the mouse would sometimes move it off to the top corner or side of screen. I just figured the mouse was wearing out, didn’t connect it to any PC problem.

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