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Thursday, 8 May 2008

How To Troubleshoot a Computer That Won't Turn On

It's a dreadful way to start a day - you press the power button on your computer and nothing happens. Do not fear because all may not be lost! Follow these simple steps to determine why your computer won't turn on.
Note: It is very important to troubleshoot any issue beginning with the most likely and easily testable problem so be sure to follow these steps in order.
Difficulty: Average
Time Required: Anywhere from 10 minutes to a few hours or more depending on why the computer won't turn on
Here's How:
As silly as it may sound, the number one reason why a computer won't turn on is because it wasn't turned on! Before starting a sometimes time consuming troubleshooting process, make sure you've turned on every power switch and power button associated with your computer:
Power button/switch on the front of the computer's case.
Power button/switch on the front and/or back of the monitor.
Power switch on the power supply on the back of the computer.
Power switch on the power strip or surge protector (if you have one).
Verify that the power supply voltage switch is correctly set. If the input voltage for the power supply does not match the correct setting for your country, your computer may not power on.
Check for loose computer and monitor power cable connections. A loose or unplugged power cable is one of the top reasons why a computer doesn't turn on.
Perform a "lamp test" to verify power is being provided. Your computer isn't going to turn on if it's not getting power so you need to make sure that the power source is working properly.
zSB(3,3)
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A damaged power supply could be preventing the computer from being properly powered.
Do a quick test of the power supply by holding your hand behind the power supply fan located at the rear of the case. If the power supply is working, you should feel air from within the case blowing against your hand. If not, you may need to replace the power supply.
Tip: Is the power light on the front of the computer's case on? If you've turned the power switch on but the light is off, this is another good indication that the power supply is the cause of this issue.
Over time, internal components and the cables that connect them can wiggle loose which can often times result in a computer unable to power on. Try reseating the following and then try to power on the computer again:
Reseat the internal cables
Reseat the memory modules
Reseat the video card
Reseat other expansion cards
Reseating the CPU may also be necessary but should only be attempted if the reseating of all other components is not successful. This is due to the fact that this process is a little more involved and can run a small risk of damage to the CPU. This isn't a big concern if you're careful, so don't worry!
Check for causes of electrical shorts in the computer case. This is often the cause of the problem when the computer powers on for a second or two but then powers off completely.
Most monitors have a small light next to the power button that can change between various colors. If the screen is blank, this light is your main source of information about the monitor.
If this light is not on at all, double-check the power switch and connections (Steps 1, 2 and 3) and also make sure the monitor cable is securely plugged in to the video card port on the back of the computer case. If the light is still off, replace the monitor. If it comes back on, try starting your computer again - a loose or unplugged monitor cable may have been the issue all along.
An amber or yellow power light simply means that the monitor is not receiving any information from the computer. In and of itself, this doesn't tell us much.
On the other hand, if the light is amber or yellow, the computer power light is on, and the hard drive is active (making familiar sounds and the hard drive activity light on the computer case is blinking), the computer is probably starting normally but the video card is not sending information to the monitor. Replace the video card.
Beep codes (see Step 11) usually sound when a video card has malfunctioned but this is not always the case.
Is your computer making a beeping sound? Sometimes a computer will turn on just enough to play a series of beeps from the speakers.
These beep codes play in particular sequences and represent a specific problem that your computer is having. Troubleshoot the beep code to figure out what it's saying and then service the computer as necessary.
Tips:
Still can't get your computer to turn on? Let a community of computer support enthusiasts help out! Post the details of your problem in the Focus on PC Support Forums.
More How To's from your Guide To Focus on PC Support

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