Computer Won't Turn On

Sooner or later almost everyone experiences a situation where they turn their computer on and NOTHING HAPPENS. As luck would have it this usually happens when you need your computer to do some important work! Try not to panic. All your important work files are probably just fine - you simply can't start the computer to access them.

So why won't the computer turn on? Well there's a 50/50 chance that either the computer or the screen has simply become unplugged. You'd be surprised how often cables get accidentally unplugged when being continually kicked under the desk or tripped over. Another common power problem is that a device is plugged into a power bar with a switch that has been accidentally switched off. A good tech can spot a disconnected cable problem before even getting close to the computer - you can too.

The following tips are broken into two sections:

NOTE: Consult a qualified electrician if you discover a bad wall power outlet/receptacle. Don't try to fix it yourself. You can test wall outlets by plugging in a known working lamp, hair dryer, or other small appliance to see if they're working.

Troubleshooting DESKTOP power problems

Try to turn on your system as you usually do, then step about 8 feet back. Now look at the monitor. Is the power light on? If not, make sure your monitor is getting power and the power light is on. Next look at the monitor to see if it is blank or not. If there is a "No Signal", "No Video", "No Input" or similar message check that both ends of the video cable between the monitor and PC are connected. The video cable will have at least one colored end. A blue end is a VGA connection and a white end is a DVI connection. Most monitors have multiple "inputs" just like on your TV where you switch between TV, DVD, and HD/Satellite inputs. You need to ensure that the correct input is selected - for example, "DVI" input if there is a video cable with a white end plugged into the back of the computer.

OK - both monitor cables are connected and the monitor is set to the correct input. If there is still no picture on the screen or it says "No Signal" or similar then the computer is not sending a video signal (picture) to the screen.

Step back from the computer again and this time look for any glowing or flashing lights on the front of the PC case. You should see at least one light if the computer is getting power and running. If it's still not turning on, check the power cable to see if it's plugged into a working outlet. If the computer is powering up but there is still no picture on screen, turn the computer off and look at the back of the computer. Some computers have more than one video connector for the monitor. For example, there may be 2 blue VGA connectors or 2 white DVI connectors. If so, try moving the video cable to the other connector (of the same type, if present) and try to start the computer again.

So far you've checked that both the monitor and PC have power, the video cable is connected, the monitor is on the correct input, and have tried both video connectors if your PC has more than one. If you still can't get your computer to turn on at this point you'll probably need to have a technician look at it. Contact us to schedule a service call and we'll have you back up and running in no time.

Troubleshooting LAPTOP power problems

If you have a laptop or netbook computer that won't turn on there's a few things you can try to get it going. Most laptop power problems are related to the power adapter cord itself or the DC jack where you plug the cord into the back of the laptop.

First off, test your outlet to make sure it has power. Plug your laptop power cord into the working outlet but don't plug in the laptop end yet. Next unplug all other cables/devices from the laptop and remove the battery. Let it sit without the battery for 5 or 10 minutes. Plug the power cord into the DC jack then try to turn on the laptop. If it turns on and runs without the battery installed then you probably have a bad battery. If it turns on and you can hear fan noise or the CD/DVD drive, but there is nothing on the screen:

  • Turn it off
  • Try connecting it to an external monitor and turn it on again

If the laptop is working with an external monitor but the integrated screen is blank then you likely have a bad screen, inverter, or backlight.

If there is no sign of the laptop getting any power at all the likely culprit is the power adapter cord or the DC jack. If you can hear a quiet "tick tick tick tick" sound near the DC jack the problem is likely a bad power supply component on the motherboard.

If the battery or external screen tricks didn't get you going please contact us for a diagnosis and repair estimate. We can accurately diagnose the problem so you can make an informed decision to either repair or replace the laptop. If you decide to replace the laptop we can also recycle your old one and help transfer all your data to the new one.