Startup problems could be very frustrating; they sure know how to pick the wrong time to popup. From my experience, a large number of situations where a PC will not startup are usually the user’s fault either due to poor computer maintenance practices or sheer apathy towards error prompts. Startup errors (contrary to popular belief) don’t just popup one day; they usually give early signals but many either don’t recognize or choose to ignore them. In extreme OS related cases, you might need to read https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-install-windows-7-with-and-without-the-operating-system-cd-dvd/ or https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-format-a-pc/
Why won’t my Windows computer startup / boot ?
This is known as a startup error. Your computer not starting up could be due to several reasons; meaning that the signs your computer shows will point at possible reasons why it won’t boot (Blank screen with fans rolling, Startup window loop, No Operating system found, Stuck at startup repair etc). Startup problems could be hardware or software related (from minor to major errors encountered by any of your computer’s hardware or software components) although incompatible drivers and installations are also contributing factors. Startup errors are generally frightening to the user because they could mean some expensive component needs replacement. It’s important not to panic because a startup error could equally be just a minor glitch, so be calm.
If my computer doesn’t boot, are my files still sife ?
So far the startup error is not hard disk related, your files should be safe. Your files and software are stored on your computer’s hard disk (labelled C:), so are the operating system files. The startup error might be due to a corrupt OS file, software or driver, in which case, your files are safe. If on the other hand, the startup error is as a result of a damaged hard disk (like you might have in the “Operating system not found” or “Missing Operating system” errors ), then you should attempt to repair the damaged hard disk (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-fix-repair-corrupt-memory-card-sd-card-or-usb-drive/ ) or recover lost files (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-recover-corrupted-files-lost-files-from-corrupt-or-accidentally-formatted-usb-devices/ ) which had been stored on it.
What could cause my computer not to startup ?
Some reasons why your computer might not startup are:
- Empty, damaged or improperly fitted battery: Your PC needs power to boot. No power means no starting up
- Corrupt Operating System: The OS might have crashed or encountered an error
- Incompatible software / driver installations: Installing an incompatible driver or buggy software could cause startup errors and in some cases, the Blue Screen of Death (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/the-blue-screen-of-death-bsod/ )
- Faulty piece of internal hardware: A damaged Hard disk, RAM or any other core internal component could be the cause of a failed startup
- External drive (e.g USB & CD/DVD) which has encountered an error: Windows could encounter startup problems if a connected external device keeps encountering errors itself
- Wrong Boot Order in BIOS: Having a connected USB drive or a loaded CD/DVD drive could prevent Windows from starting up. This is because Windows has what is called a “boot order” and this might have been set to attempt to load Windows from connected USB / DVD devices before the Hard disk. In a case where these external devices do not contain a bootable copy of Windows, a startup error is imminent
- Improper shutdown: If the PC is forced to shutdown (using the power button) or encounters a sudden shutdown (without using the inbuilt Shutdown function) then Windows will prompt you to run a startup repair just to be sure everything is Ok
- Outdated BIOS: The BIOS might be outdated
- Overheating: The PC might be overheating, causing it to malfunction
What would i need to fix my computer that won’t startup?
There really isn’t a check list of things you’ll need to fix your computer that wont startup. This is because your approach depends on what signs your computer (which wont startup) gives. The key here is to be observant and take notes; this will be very helpful in narrowing down the source of the problem.
How do i fix a Windows computer that won’t startup?
“My laptop will not startup, how do i fix my laptop”? This is really easy to ask but very few people are patient enough to do this by themselves. We shall however, analyze different scenarios and how to fix a laptop / desktop PC that wont startup in each.
When the computer shows no signs of power at all
If the computer still remains dead after pressing the power button (as in no lights, no fan, no diaplay …) then:
- Your battery might be totally dead, connect the computer to a power supply.
- After you connect the computer to a power supply, check if the ‘charging’ LED or light is on to be sure your power pack / cable is in order.
- Ensure that the power supply itself is in good condition.
- Check your Power Supply Unit (PSU) to be sure its in good condition. A high pitched noise during attempted boot is one indicator of a faulty PSU.
- Its possible the power button is broken and not closing the circuit. If your motherboard has a tiny power button, and it powers on your computer, then your power button needs to be replaced.
- Consider replacing the motherboard. Replacing a motherboard is technical and relatively expensive. Most would advice you just get a new computer. I advice this only when all other options have been exhausted and further computer troubleshooting point at the motherboard. Ensure to use a Power On Self Test card to confirm that the motherboard is the problem.
When the computer boots then goes off suddenly
If your computer successfully powers up but then goes off by itself then you’re looking at either an electrical fault or a rather serious hardware issue. In such a case:
- If you hear beeps then you can use the beep code to detect the fault ( A beep code is an audible code generated during the Power On Self Test when the BIOS encounters an issue but hasn’t booted far enough to display a POST error message on the monitor).
- Look inside your computer for possible causes of power shorts.
- There might be partial contact in your Power Supply Unit, check it out.
- Use a POST card to troubleshoot faulty hardware.
- Check the power button, its possible it remains depressed after power on.
- Re-seat your computer hardware (keyboard, memory modules ..) just in case sudden movements have made them lose.
- Power up your computer with only essential hardware. If this issue stops then try to identify the faulty hardware by trial and error.
When the computer powers up but displays nothing
In a case where the computer powers up with lights and fans but the screen remains blank, then:
- Check the monitor / screen and its connector, either might be faulty. Connect your computer to an external monitor to confirm.
- Ensure to hold down the power button till your computer shuts down (not sleep) then re-boot.
- If you get beeps then use the beep code to pinpoint the problem.
- Re-seat your computer hardware like memory modules, power cables …
- CMOS might need to be cleared since BIOS misconfiguration could be the problem. Clearing the CMOS resets the BIOS settings to factory state.
- Check that the Power Supply Unit is supplying the monitor.
- Boot your computer with only essential hardware then troubleshoot using a POST card.
When the computer keeps rebooting during startup
This is called a “boot loop”. You would usually get the startup splash screen with logo, a boot to an extent, a freeze then reboot. This could sometimes come in form of a failed startup repair attempt. (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-fix-windows-stuck-at-preparing-automatic-repair/ ) . In such a case, you could:
- Check the Boot Order in BIOS: Boot into BIOS (keep tapping F10 on boot) and place the Hard Disk higher on the list
- Force shutdown the computer (by holding down the power button till it shutsdown) then power up the computer.
- Use the startup repair option if displayed. You can also use your Operating System’s installation CD to initiate a startup repair. The procedure is different from re-installing an Operating System
- Use the windows repair tools ( keep tapping F8 upon boot) like “last known good configuration” ( which restores your computer back to its configuration before the startup problem began) , “safe mode” (which is like your normal boot only that all non-essential processes are disabled) etc.
- Do a system restore: A system restore returns your computer to a “time stamp” or date (which you specify) before the startup problem began without tampering with your files (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-do-a-system-restore-on-a-pc/ ). Note however that some installations might be removed and others restored.
- Clearing the CMOS could fix startup issues due to a misconfigured BIOS. Clearing the BIOS memory on the motherboard and restoring its settings to factory state could do it.
- Check the RAM to be sure all its modules are in good condition.
- Run a hard disk test and memory test from BIOS.
- Check your hard drive’s data cable to be sure its well connected to the motherboard.
- Disconnect all USB devices and ensure the CD/DVD drive is empty
When the computer always gives a blue screen upon boot
The Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) is usually caused by hardware or driver errors. It is that blue screen with white fonts you would usually get when windows encounters a serious error after which you would get a crash dump and error code ( See https://www.hovatek.com/blog/the-blue-screen-of-death-bsod/ for more info) which you can use to identify the cause of the error. Here are some tips on how to fix a laptop or desktop PC with the Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) on startup:
- If you recently installed a new piece of hardware, software, driver or update, this might have caused the BSOD due to compatibility issues. You can revert this by doing a system restore, resetting to a last known good configuration, removing the hardware, or uninstalling the update as the case may be.
- Check to ensure that the partition in which your Windows Operating System has enough available space on it (you can keep @ least 1GB free).
- Scan your computer for virus or malware.
- Check to be sure your drivers are up to date by doing a windows update.
- Reset your BIOS setting to factory state / default state.
- Ensure your hardware are well seated / connected.
- Check for a BIOS update.
- Under Device Manager, restore all your hardware settings to default.
- If your PC automatically restarts after the Blue Screen Of Death, then disable the automatic restart on system failure option in BIOS (F10 upon boot depending on your PC).
When the computer always freezes or reboots at login screen
This doesn’t happen too often but if it does:
- Ensure your Operating System has been activated .
- Boot into safe mode. If it boots successfully then you have a faulty process or program running.
- Restore your Operating System to the last known good configuration (keep tapping F8 upon boot) or do a system restore.
- Check your RAM and other hardware to be sure they’re well seated or compatible.
- Reset your BIOS settings to factory state.
How do I prevent startup problems on my computer?
Very good question. Prevention – they say – is better than cure so its only wise you know what causes startup problems, how to avoid them, what to do when a desktop PC or laptop will not startup and how to fix startup problems . Some measures you can take are:
- Avoid installing incompatible drivers and software.
- Do not tamper with your OS files or registry if you have no idea what you’re doing.
- Be wary of the registry optimizers / PC boosters you install. Most of them will end up crashing your computer.
- Avoid placing your laptop flat on surfaces that don’t allow the bottom part to cool. Ensure to tilt your laptop to allow the base cool and also that your air vent is not blocked by any object (see https://www.hovatek.com/blog/how-to-resolve-the-problem-of-an-overheating-laptop-pc/ ).
- Avoid placing heavy objects on or dropping your computer hard.
- Protect your computer from liquid spills.
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