A PC or laptop that won’t turn on can be a traumatic experience, particularly if you rely on it as your primary device. However, it’s important to take a deep breath and run through what the potential causes might be. If it’s one of the six below, we’ve included information on how to hopefully get it up and running again.
Method 1. Check the power supply
This is one of the most common problems. There are various things that can go wrong, from using the wrong laptop power supply (delivering the wrong voltage) to a blown fuse in the plug. So check that the adapter is indeed the correct one for your laptop and is delivering the right voltage and amps. Stickers or markings on both the power supply and laptop should confirm this. Some third-party chargers also output power at a speed that is only equivalent to what your device requires to run. Older devices in particular can lose significant amounts of battery when in sleep mode, and may therefore not turn on if one of these chargers are used.
Method 2. Check the screen
Try disconnecting any external displays including projectors and monitors to make sure they’re not stopping your laptop from booting into Windows. If your computer’s power LED lights up and you can hear the hard disk or fan(s) whirring, but there’s no image on the screen, then make the room dark and check that there isn’t a very faint image on the screen.It’s easy to think a laptop isn’t booting when in fact, it’s the screen that’s the problem.
Method 3. Unplug and removable USB drives or memory cards
Assuming everything is ok with the power supply and screen, your computer may be getting stuck before it loads Windows. A classic culprit here is a USB drive or memory card left inserted into a USB port or card reader. Typically you’ll see an error message such as “Operating system not found” which can lead to unnecessary panic. For the majority of the time, it means the BIOS is set to try booting from removable storage drives (including cards) before the internal hard drive. It could also be a disc left in the DVD or Blu-ray drive, so check those too.
Method 4: Boot into Safe Mode
Even if you can’t boot into Windows, you might be able to get into safe mode. Press F8 as your laptop is starting up and you’ll get a menu offering to boot into Safe Mode. If you can enter safe mode, you might be able to undo any changes that caused your laptop or PC to stop booting. You could try uninstalling any new programs that you recently installed, uninstall a driver that was recently updated, or create a new user account if the account is corrupt.
Method 5: Check for faulty or incompatible hardware
If you’ve just installed some new memory or another piece of hardware, it might be preventing your computer from booting. Remove it (reinstalling the old memory if necessary) and try again. If your motherboard has a LED readout showing POST codes, search the manual or online to find out what the code shown means. Often it can be tricky to get a newly built PC to boot. The best tip here is to disconnect everything except the bare minimum needed to boot to the BIOS:
- CPU (with heat sink attached)
- Graphics card (if there’s a graphics output on the motherboard, remove any plug-in graphics cards)
- One stick of memory (remove any others, and leave the single stick in slot 0 or whichever the manual recommends)
- Power supply