Easy Fixes for Computer Starting Issues

A computer that won't start up is frustrating, in part because it provides you with few clues about the cause of the problem. Often times this issue is easily remedied and doesn't require a costly repair.

Easy Fixes for Computer Starting Issues

My computer won't start

Check the external connections

  • Press the "Caps Lock" key on the keyboard — its light should come on, indicating that the computer is receiving power. If the light does come on and there's nothing on your screen, your monitor may be switched off.
  • Check the power source by plugging in another appliance to the wall socket. Make sure all the computer's switches are on and ensure its power cable is firmly plugged in.
  • Tower computers may have a switch on the back that allows the operating voltage to be changed — make sure it is set to the mains voltage for your country.
  • Computers can fail to start because cards that plug into the main circuit board, such as RAM cards, have come loose. Try removing and reinserting the RAM cards — this will often fix the problem. Remove RAM cards by pressing down on the levers on either side of each card. Reinsert the cards by pressing down on the middle of the card.

If your PC still fails to start, it is likely that the power supply (a unit within the computer that distributes the correct power to different components) has failed. Power supplies can be replaced fairly easily and cheaply by your local computer repairer.

Words to know

Hardware

The "physical" parts of a computer system — the electronics, as well as electromechanical items like printer mechanisms, keyboard and disk drives.

Software

The coded instructions, held as magnetic dots on the computer's hard drive, that tell the machine how to perform a huge range of tasks — from word processing to video editing.

Operating system

The software that enables your computer to manage files and run other programs. It processes inputs (from your keyboard, for example) and controls outputs (to your screen and printer).

Warning

If your computer doesn't switch on but instead emits a high-pitched whine or smells of burning wires or ozone (a metallic, acidic smell), switch it off immediately and call a professional; the computer's power supply may be compromised.

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