10 Things to Try if Your Windows PC Won’t Boot

Introduction

It can be frustrating and stressful when your computer will not boot up normally. However, there are several things you can try to troubleshoot and fix the problem. This article will cover ten things you can try if your Windows PC won’t boot. From checking the power source and cables to booting in Safe Mode and performing a clean install of Windows, these steps will help you identify and fix the issue. 

Always back up your important data before attempting any potentially destructive troubleshooting steps!

Check the power source

Checking the power source is essential in troubleshooting a computer that will not boot. Ensure that the computer is plugged into a working outlet or power strip and that the power cord is securely connected to the computer. You can verify that the outlet or power strip is working by plugging in another device, such as a lamp, to see if it powers on. Check the power cord for damage by visually inspecting it for frayed wires or breaks. If you are using a laptop, ensure that the battery is adequately charged and that the battery is not the issue.

If the computer is plugged in and receiving power but will not turn on, it may indicate a problem with the power supply unit (PSU) or the motherboard. In this case, it’s best to take the computer to a professional for further troubleshooting or repair.

Try to “wake up” the computer

Sometimes a computer may appear to be off, but it is actually in a low-power state. Press the power button on the computer to wake it up. If it is in sleep or hibernation mode, this should turn on the computer. If the computer does not respond to the power button, it may be in a deep sleep or hibernation mode. In this case, you can hold the power button for a few seconds to force the computer to shut down, then press the power button again to boot the machine.

If the computer is still not responding, it may be due to a hardware or software issue. You can investigate further, but you may consider taking the computer to a professional for troubleshooting or repair.

Some computers have a power button with a LED next to it. If the LED is not lit, it could indicate that the computer is not getting power. If you are using a laptop, some models have a button or key to activate the sleep mode. For example, closing the laptop’s lid will put it to sleep. Opening the laptop’s lid and/or pressing the spacebar or another key will usually wake it up.

Perform a hard reset

A hard reset is a simple but effective troubleshooting step for a computer that will not boot. It can clear any temporary software or hardware issues preventing the computer from booting correctly. Here are the steps to do a hard reset:

  • Shut down the computer by pressing and holding the power button for a few seconds;
  • Unplug the computer from the power outlet or power strip;
  • Remove the battery (if it’s a laptop);
  • Press and hold the power button for 30 seconds. This will discharge any remaining power in the computer’s capacitors and clear any temporary software or hardware issues;
  • Reconnect the computer to the power outlet or power strip and reinsert the battery (if it’s a laptop);
  • Press the power button to turn on the computer and see if it boots correctly.

Check for loose or disconnected cables

This is a critical step in troubleshooting a computer that will not boot. Ensure that all cables, including the power cord, data cables, and video cables, are securely connected to the computer. Verify that none of the cables are damaged, frayed, or bent. If they are, replace them with new ones. Make sure that all cable connections are securely seated in their ports. If you are using a desktop computer, check the connections inside the computer to ensure that the cables are securely connected to the motherboard and other components. 

If you are using a laptop, check the connections between it and any external peripherals to ensure they are securely connected. If your laptop is connected to a docking station, ensure that the connections between the dock and the computer are securely connected.

If you find that a cable is loose or disconnected, reconnect it securely and try to boot the computer again. 

Try booting in Safe Mode

Safe Mode is a diagnostic tool that allows you to start Windows with minimal drivers and services. Assuming your computer powers up but fails to boot to Windows with an error, it can help identify and fix software issues preventing the computer from booting correctly. Here are the steps to boot a Windows computer in Safe Mode:

  • Press the F8 key on your keyboard repeatedly while the computer is starting up. This will bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu;
  • Use the arrow keys to select “Safe Mode” from the menu and press Enter.

The computer will start in Safe Mode, with a minimal set of drivers and services loaded. You can try to troubleshoot and fix any software issues preventing it from booting normally. You can also try booting in other variations of Safe Mode, like “Safe Mode with Networking” or “Safe Mode with Command Prompt,” which can help you troubleshoot specific issues. Once you have resolved the issue, restart the computer normally and see if Windows boots.

Check the BIOS settings

The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) controls the system’s hardware and is responsible for booting the computer. Assuming your computer powers up but fails to load Windows, it can help to identify and fix problems. Press the appropriate key (usually Del or F2) to enter the BIOS setup utility during the startup process. Once in BIOS setup, check the following:

  • Check the boot order in the BIOS settings to ensure that the hard drive is set as the first boot device;
  • Make sure that the hard drive is recognized and listed in the BIOS;
  • Check the BIOS settings for any other configuration options that may be causing the computer to not boot, such as a security setting that is preventing the computer from booting from the hard drive;
  • Ensure that the date and time are set correctly in the BIOS.

Save any changes and exit the BIOS.Try to boot the computer again and see if it boots normally. 

Note that the steps to access the BIOS can vary depending on the computer’s manufacturer and model, so you may need to consult the computer’s documentation or the manufacturer’s website for specific instructions.

Run hardware diagnostics

Running a diagnostic test on the computer’s hardware help to identify and fix any hardware issues that may prevent the computer from booting correctly. Check if the computer has a built-in diagnostic tool, such as Dell’s Preboot Diagnostics or HP’s PC Hardware Diagn UEFI. These tools are usually accessed by pressing a specific key during the computer’s startup process, which can vary depending on the manufacturer and model. If the computer doesn’t have a built-in diagnostic tool, you can use a bootable USB or CD with diagnostic software, such as Memtest86 or Hiren’s Boot CD. These tools can check the memory, hard drive, and other hardware components for issues.

Run the diagnostic test and check for any error messages or identified issues. If problems are found, try to fix them by replacing or repairing the affected hardware component. Once you have resolved the issue, restart the computer and see if it boots normally. 

Note that running a hardware diagnostic test can take some time, depending on the number of hardware components being tested, so ensure you have enough time to complete the test.

Try booting to Windows recovery media

Booting the computer using a bootable USB or CD with Windows recovery is a means of repairing a damaged operating system. Here’s how to proceed – if possible, back up all important data before performing this operation:

  • Create a bootable USB or CD with a Windows installation or recovery media. You can use Microsoft’s media creation tool to create a bootable USB or CD (if you have not already done this and your computer will not boot, you’ll need to do it from a different computer);
  • Insert the bootable USB or CD into the computer and restart the computer;
  • Press the appropriate key (usually F12 or Esc) to enter the boot menu during the computer’s startup process;
  • Use the arrow keys to select the bootable USB or CD and press Enter;
  • The computer will now boot from the bootable USB or CD, and you will be able to access the Windows installation or recovery options;
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to repair the existing installation;
  • Once the installation or repair process is complete, restart the computer and see if it boots correctly.

Boot to the last known good configuration

If you cannot restore a normal boot process, you can try booting the computer using the last known good configuration. This can be useful to recover from issues caused by recent changes to the system configuration, software installation, or updates, but it won’t fix hardware issues or issues caused by malware or viruses. Here are the steps:

  • Press the F8 key repeatedly while the computer is starting up. This will bring up the Advanced Boot Options menu;
  • Use the arrow keys to select “Last Known Good Configuration (advanced)” and press Enter;
  • The computer will now boot using the last known good configuration, which is a snapshot of the system settings and driver configurations that were used the last time the computer booted successfully;
  • Once the computer has booted using the last known good configuration, check to see if the issue has been resolved;

Perform a clean installation of Windows

If none of the above steps work, try booting the computer using a bootable USB or CD with a Windows installation or recovery media and then perform a clean install of Windows. A clean install will erase all the data on the computer, so make sure to back up all of your important data before proceeding. Here are the steps to perform a clean install of Windows:

  • Create a bootable USB or CD with a Windows installation media. You can use Microsoft’s media creation tool to create a bootable USB or CD. You’ll need to do this on a different computer if yours is not booting correctly;
  • Insert the bootable USB or CD into the computer and restart the computer;
  • Press the appropriate key (usually F12 or Esc) to enter the boot menu during the computer’s startup process;
  • Use the arrow keys to select the bootable USB or CD and press Enter;
  • The computer will now boot from the bootable USB or CD, and you will be able to access the Windows installation options;
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to perform a clean install of Windows;
  • Once the installation process is complete, install the necessary drivers and user software.

Conclusion

By following the steps outlined in this article, you should be able to identify and fix most issues that interfere with a typical Windows PC bootup. Keep in mind that these troubleshooting steps may not always fix the problem, and in some cases, it’s best to take the computer to a professional for further troubleshooting or repair. But in most cases, following these steps offers a good chance of fixing the issue and getting your computer back up and running.

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