No, we’re not talking about the holes in your hiking boots :-). Can’t help you with that. Though we’d suggest duct tape as a temporary solution. But what we do want to help you with is what you can do when your computer won’t boot properly, or not at all.
What to do?
It can be a heart-wrenching experience. You push that power button, and all hell breaks loose. Beeps, error messages, red X’s, BSOD’s (Blue Screen of Death) are everywhere. Or, even worse, nothing at all. Deadly silence. What’s going on?
The first rule is to stay calm. Panicking, yelling, cursing and throwing things won’t help – though it might make you feel better for a second. But to troubleshoot and resolve the problem, a clear head is imperative. Be systematic and approach the problem logically. The troubleshooting steps below will take a methodical approach to help you figure out why your PC is not booting correctly or not booting at all. Some of the steps might sound silly to you, but please don’t ignore those steps! Every single problem and solution in this article has happened to somebody at some point. Most of them it takes only a few seconds to check, take the time to do so.
Nothing happens at all
Start with the power. Is the power cable plugged in correctly into a UPS, surge protector, power strip, or wall outlet? Is the wall outlet where the power comes from controlled by a wall switch that was turned off accidentally? Is the power strip turned on? Is the light on the UPS or power strip on, indicating that it has power? Is the power cable plugged into the back of the computer correctly? The socket on the back of the computer where the power cable goes in is part of the power supply in your PC. Some power supplies have a separate on/off switch, usually labeled 0/1. Is that switch turned on? Check the voltage – most power supplies have a switch to change between 115 and 230V – and make sure it is set correctly.
The power comes on but the monitor stays black
Is the power cable for the monitor plugged in correctly? Is the monitor turned on? Is the cable from the video card to the monitor plugged in correctly? Is the video card seated properly? Take the cover off of the case, remove the video card and insert it again properly, then try again.
If everything is connected and powered up correctly, push the power button again and pay close attention: do any lights on the front of the PC blink or light up? Does the fan in the power supply start whirring? This could indicate a hardware problem. Try to think what happened right before the problem started. Did you add a new piece of hardware? If so, it might be faulty or not installed right. Remove it, then try again. If everything is fine without the hardware, try to reinstall and configure the hardware again. If that does not help, try exchanging it and see if that corrects the problem. If the error persists, narrow it down systematically. Remove everything but the CPU, memory, keyboard, and video card, then boot again. Does the error still occur? If not, then add one piece of hardware and try again. Repeat until one new component causes the error and you now know who the culprit is. If yes, then reseat your CPU, memory and video card and try again. If the error still happens, try replacing the CPU, video card and memory one by one to see if one of them is the troublemaker. If that does not help, you could have a bad motherboard. Check the motherboard carefully for any signs of damage. Also check for shorts, a metallic object could have found its way onto the motherboard, or the motherboard is not installed correctly and touches the case somewhere.
Another possible cause could be incorrect CPU settings. If you replaced the CPU with a different one, be sure to choose the correct settings for multiplier and bus speed, either via jumpers on the motherboard or a menu in the BIOS. Consult the manual for the correct setup. If you can’t even get into the BIOS to change the settings, use the jumper on the motherboard to clear the BIOS and load the default settings, it should allow you to boot.