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My Computer Won’t Turn On! How to Fix a Computer That Won’t Turn On

By 2014, almost 85% of American homes owned at least one computer.

Computers not only make us more productive, but they also make our lives easier. That is, at least, when they’re working as they should. 

When your computer won’t turn on, there’s likely a simple explanation. It’s just a matter of knowing what to look for and how to test it properly.

Before calling a professional, try troubleshooting the problem on your own with these simple steps. 

What To Do When Your Computer Won’t Turn On

It’s understandable that you’re frustrated and thinking: “my computer has all of my precious data”. But the first thing to keep in mind when your computer won’t turn on is not to panic.

In most cases, your music, documents, videos, emails, and photographs, can easily be recovered. These items are stored on your hard drive. And your hard drive is rarely the cause when a computer or laptop won’t turn on.

So keep calm and rest assured that all of your data is probably safe. Then, follow these steps to figure out what the problem is and fix it yourself.

1. Check Your Power 

If your computer shows no signs of receiving power, the problem might have to do with electricity. This is much different than when your computer starts but doesn’t load your operating system. If you can’t hear fans or see lights, you can almost be sure you’ve got a power problem.

The first thing you want to do in this case is to check that your computer is turned on. It sounds basic – but this is often the source of the problem. Check that every power switch and the power button has been switched on before going any further.

Common power switches people miss are:

  • the power button or switch on the front of the computer case of a desktop
  • the power switch on the back of a desktop
  • the power button or switch on the top or side of your laptop

Don’t forget to check the switch on any power strips or power distribution devices you might be missing as well.

2. Check Your Electrical Socket

If you use a power strip, battery station, or any kind of power distribution device, unplug from those and plug directly into the wall. This eliminates these devices as the source of your problem.

If after plugging directly into the wall your computer still doesn’t power on, then check your electrical sockets. Plug a lamp into the socket and check that it’s working.

When the electrical socket isn’t working, use another and have that one fixed. But if the electrical socket is working, then move onto step 3.

3. Check Your Cords

Make sure that there isn’t any physical damage to your power cord. If your computer is a desktop, the power cable is found between the computer case and the electrical socket. On a laptop, we’re referring to the AC adapter that you plug into the wall to charge it.

First, unplug your power cord and look for any breaks or damage. If you find damage, you know what needs to be replaced. 

When it comes to laptops and tablets, a broken AC adapter is a common cause of power issues. When they break, they can’t charge your laptop. You’ll need to replace it with a new adapter that’s specifically made for your laptop.

4. Checking For Loose Hardware

After checking your power buttons, your electrical socket, and your cords, the fixes become a little more difficult. That’s especially true if your computer is turning on, but then turning itself off before your operating system can load. This can mean one of two things: an electrical short or a serious hardware problem.

If it’s an electrical short, you should:

  1. Make sure that voltage coming from the power supply is set correctly for your computer. If you’re not getting enough volts, your computer can’t stay on.
  2. Ensure that your computer isn’t overheating. Keep your computer in a cool space where it has plenty of room to vent. Otherwise, overheating could be causing it to turn off.
  3. Take a look inside the computer and look for electrical shorts. These are a common cause of computers starting up and shutting down immediately.

If there’s an electrical short within your hardware, you’ll need to reseat everything inside of your computer to determine what part is causing the problem.

Start by reseating your internal data and power cables. Then, reseat your memory modules and your expansion cards (if applicable). This will help establish a power connection to any pieces that have become loose over time.

5. Checking Your Monitor

Sometimes when you think your computer isn’t turning on, it’s actually a problem with the monitor. Meaning that your computer is turning on but you can’t see anything because the monitor is blank. If you hear fans and other sounds and you see lights on the computer case, then you’re probably looking at a monitor issue.

To check that your monitor is working, first check the power source. Make sure that the monitor is plugged directly into the wall and that the cable’s running into your monitor isn’t loose or blocked.

6. Check for Failed Hardware

If one piece of your hardware has failed completely, this could be the reason why your computer won’t turn on. This hardware will probably need replacing.

The hardware usually responsible for this kind of shortage is your video card, processor, and heat sink. It could also be that your motherboard is failing.

But if you’re not a computer expert beyond basic computer maintenance, we’d recommend seeking professional help at this point.

More Computer Help and Advice

When your computer won’t turn on, it’s usually because power isn’t getting to the computer. You can start by checking that it’s turned on, that your cords are in good condition, and that your electrical socket is working correctly. After that, the fixes get a bit more technical.

In those cases, you should look for professional help. Check out our services and find out how we can help you.