How To Figure out Why a Computer Won't Boot

This article tells you the basics of how to determine if there is faulty hardware in a computer and/or if you have configuration problems.

Step 1  

Turn off your computer. Make sure that all of your wires in the front and back I/O panels are securely plugged in.

Step 2  

Turn back on your computer. Observe.

Step 3  

If the computer simply does not turn on, or you get stopped at a screen with white writing and a black background, and does not say "Windows" anywhere in it, it is a hardware problem. Shut down your computer again and go to step 4. If you get stopped at a screen that says "windows" anywhere in it, and it asks you to choose an option for booting, read the directions on that page and select the choice based on them.

Step 4  

If you are not good with computers, skip to step 7. If you are comfortable with working with the inside of computers, turn it back on and get in the BIOS. From here you should be able to set everything back to normal. If you have overclocked, set your FSB and vCore down to stock levels. If your BIOS has the button, you can press "restore to factory settings" instead of having to go through every menu. This button should be near the back of the bios and is lodged between "exit and save changes" and "exit and discard changes."

Step 5  

Try to start the machine up again. If the computer didn't start up in the first place, check the power switch lead. These little buggers can frequently get unknowingly moved to adjacent pins if you're not careful. If your power switch lead is in the exact right place, check your ATX 12v auxiliary connector. It is a common mistake for people to leave this unplugged.

Step 6  

If nothing is working, take the little battery out of the motherboard (should be near the southbridge) and wait 2 minutes for it to fully discharge. Remember, you must have the power cord unplugged to do this. (You should never have cords attached to the back when you're working on a computer.) If you know which jumper on your motherboard is the clear CMOS jumper, you can just move that to the other two pins and wait 5-10 seconds to clear your CMOS. If absolutely nothing works, try taking all of the parts out and putting them back in. This shouldn't be just one by one. Take all of them out, lay them on a table, and put them back in, making sure to connect all necessary wires. Also, make sure you're grounded by simply touching the power supply every 5 minutes or so.

Step 7  

If you have a hardware problem and you aren't comfortable working on the inside of computers, take it to a local computer repair shop and describe your problem. The better you describe what's happening on your end, the easier it makes their job on their end, and it'll be cheaper because they won't have to screw around with it as much. If you're a brave soul, and would like to try to fix it yourself, go to the next step.

Step 8  

Open up the computer. You should be able to do this by unscrewing the screws on the back. DO NOT unscrew any screws that are near a fan. Only ones on the very outer rim of the back.

Step 9  

Do not touch any components of the computer except for the power supply, which you should touch every 5 minutes to keep yourself grounded. This will keep you from frying any of the expensive components in there. One electrostatic shock can bring your system down for good. The power supply is located in the upper left hand corner, and it should have a lot of thick wires coming out of one hole in it.

Step 10  

There should be a little battery located near the bottom of the motherboard. It is shiny, and could be hidden by some wires. Remember to not touch the motherboard or any other piece of circuitry unless you have to. Locate the battery. It should be in a little holster, with a lever on one end. Pop it out and wait 2 minutes.

Step 11  

Put the battery back in, making sure it's on the same side it was when you popped it out. If you don't remember, try putting the shiniest side up. This did not clear any memory on your hard drive, only the CMOS memory, which you don't have to worry about.

Step 12  

Put the computer back together and plug it in. If you have any more problems with starting it up, bring it to a computer repair shop. There are so many complicated things that could have gone wrong that it would take hundreds of pages to explain them all to you. But remember, computer repair shops will take advantage of you. They're just like auto mechanics, trying to raise the price out of your own ignorance. Be skeptical and be aware.


  • Always make sure you're grounded while working on the inside of a computer.


  • If you're not good with computers, don't take the chance of breaking it by opening it up. Plus, it will void your warranty.

Things You'll Need

  • (If you're venturing inside your computer) A phillips head screwdriver
  • An electrostatic grounding wristband (optional)
  • No frustration. Frustration kills computers.



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