The first thing to do when faced with a PC that won’t start up is remain calm. They’re modular devices, and it’s likely that a single component among many is the culprit. Fixing or replacing that component should bring your machine back to life. The trick is finding out which one it is.
We recommend a systematic approach to the problem, starting with observation, moving on to elimination and ending in diagnosis and treatment. Don’t worry, you won’t need a degree in engineering to fix a poorly PC. The process will probably be much easier than you expect.
We’ll take you through a troubleshooting procedure that should help you fix the majority of near-fatal hardware faults. In many cases, you won’t need a great deal of technical know-how to get your PC working again.
PC power problems
There are many reasons why your computer might fail to start. Let’s have a look at the possibilities, one probable scenario at a time. The first sounds like the worst, but could actually be one of the easiest to diagnose.
You switch on your computer and nothing happens. No lights, no fans, no drives whirring into life and, crucially, no POST (Power On System Test) beep. Somewhere in the chain, power isn’t getting through.
Work your way through this checklist. Unplug all peripherals except the keyboard, mouse and monitor, and make sure these are connected correctly. Check the obvious possibilities: make sure that your power cable is fitted correctly, the mains is switched on at the plug and the power switch is on at your computer.
If you’re using an extension cord or multiblock, take those out of the chain and plug your PC’s power cable directly into the mains socket. You should also try a spare kettle lead if you have one, in case a break in the cable is responsible.