Laptop does not start. Fixing the problem.

posted in: Troubleshooting | 718

If your laptop does not start at all or it starts but will not boot properly, it’s possible that you can fix the laptop at home without taking it to a repair center. Here are some troubleshooting tips for you. I’m not sure if I can cover all situation at once, so I will update this post as more examples come into my mind.

Situation 1.

The laptop appears to be dead. You plug the AC adapter but the LEDs (power light, hard drive light, battery charge light, etc…) do not light up and the laptop will not react at all if you press on the power button.

First of all in this situation check the AC adapter. You can test the output voltage with a voltmeter. If you cannot do that, find a known good AC adapter and use it for testing the laptop. It is possible the laptop appears to be dead because the AC adapter is bad (and the battery is discharged). If you know that the AC adapter is working properly and it outputs correct voltage but the laptop is still dead, most likely you have a power issue on the motherboard (or power board on some laptops) and it has to be replaced.
If you have to replace the AC adapter, make sure you use a correct one. The output voltage must be exactly the same as on the original adapter. The output amperage has to be the same as on the original adapter or higher, but not lower.

Situation 2.

When you plug the AC adapter the power LED and the battery charge LED light up. When you press on the power button the laptop powers up but will not start. There is no video on LCD or external monitor.

If the power LED lights up it indicates that the laptop is getting power from the AC adapter. Most likely there is nothing wrong with the adapter but just in case test it with a voltmeter to make sure the output voltage is correct.
Also try this. Unplug the AC adapter, remove the battery and wait for 1-2 minutes. After that plug the AC adapter ans try starting the laptop again. Sometimes this trick helps.
It also could be a memory related problem. Try reseating the memory module, just remove it from the slot on the motherboard and install it back. Try installing the memory module into the other slot (if it’s available). If you have two memory modules installed, try removing them one by one and start the laptop just with one memory module installed.
If the laptop starts fine with one memory module in both slots, but will not start with the second memory module in both slots, the second memory module is faulty. Replace the module.
If the laptop starts fine with both memory modules when they are installed in the slot A, but will not start with both memory modules installed in the slot B, the slot B is faulty and you’ll have to replace the motherboard or use only one memory slot.

Situation 3.

When you press on the power button, the laptop makes a series or short and long beeps and will not start up. There is no video on the screen.

In this situation test the memory module as I described in the situation2. Try installing a known good memory module. Most likely you are getting a beep error because of a faulty memory.

Situation 4.

You start the laptop. It sounds like the laptop is booting normally (hard drive LED is flashing) but there is no video on the screen

In this situation test the laptop with an external monitor. If the external screen works fine but there is no video on the laptop LCD, most likely there is a problem inside the laptop display assembly. Go to my previous post witch covers laptop video problems in more details.

Situation 5.

You start the laptop and it starts making repetitive clicking noise or grinding noise.

Most likely you hear this noise because of a faulty hard drive. You can remove the hard drive and start the laptop without it. If the noise is gone, the hard drive is your problem. Replace it.
If the laptop makes clicking or grinding noises and you still have video on the screen, you can run a hard drive test utility. I usually use Hitachi’s drive fitness test. This test is reliable and easy to use.

Situation 6.

The laptop boots into Windows ans works for a while, but after that it shuts down by itself without any reason or warning. You restart the laptop but the same problem appears again

Most likely it’s a heat related issue. Listen for the cooling fan, make sure it works.
Also this problem might appear because of a faulty memory module, try some tips from the situation 2.
The laptop still boots ans you still can see the screen, so you can run the memory test. I usually use Memtest86+. Run the memory test and if it fails, replace the faulty module.

Situation 6

The laptop starts normally but video on the screen has lines, some strange characters or other defects

It could indicate a problem with the laptop LCD screen, video cable, graphics card or motherboard. Here’s my previous post witch covers troubleshooting bad images on the screen in more details.

Related post: How to troubleshoot dead laptops.


718 Responses

  1. @ Jen,

    1. Download Ultimate Boot CD image and burn it on a CD.
    2. Boot your laptop from that CD. You don’t need Windows for that.
    3. Run memory and hard driver test. You’ll have to do some reading on how run those utilities but it’s not that difficult.
    For memory I use Memtest86+.
    For hard drive I usually use Seatools.

  2. how do i run diagnostics without windows? and thank you for helping me.

  3. @ Jen,

    Normally the hard drive can be easily access on the bottom of the laptop.
    Sometimes reseating the hard driver (disconnecting from the motherboard and connecting back) helps. I’m not sure if it will help in your particular case but mentioned it just in case.
    If you were able to reinstall Windows 7 and it didn’t complain about missing hard drive, probably it’s connected properly.
    I would definitely test the hard drive. Maybe it’s going bad.

  4. Never opened a latop up in m life. by that do you mean take te hhd out and pu it back in again?

  5. @ Jen,

    Have you tried reconnecting the hard drive and reseating memory modules?
    I would try that first.
    If it doesn’t help, I would run diagnostic tests on the hard drive and memory modules.
    You can download Ultimate Boot CD image and burn it on a CD. This utility have multiple diagnostic tools for memory and hard drive.
    For memory I use Memtest86+.
    For hard drive I usually use Seatools.

  6. @ katie,

    I don’t think this is related to your new adapter.
    Usually you get this message if there is a problem with the operating system or the laptop wasn’t turned off correctly.

    If neither option worked, it’s possible your Windows OS is corrupted or there is a problem with the hard drive.
    I cannot tell witch one is the culprit without looking at the laptop. In cases like that I always run hard drive test.

    If the hard drive still works properly or doesn’t have too many errors, you should be able to use an external USB enclosure.

  7. I have an acer aspire 5551-2382 and unfortunatly I slammedthelid cloed and next time I tried o start it it said something about opeating system not found. I uninstale windows 7 and reintaled it again but still windows wont load. Tried a million things not sure what todo cuz warranty is already up. please tell me this isnt an expensive fix.

  8. Hi, i have a problem with my acer i recently bought a new charger from ebay for it my other one broke.. and when i used it first time it worked then when i turned my laptop of and used it again it come up on the black screen what says ..
    launch startup replair recommended or
    start windows normally

    iv tryed doing both and the first one says..
    if you have recently attached a device to this computer, such as a camera or portable music player, remove it and restard computer. if you continue to see message contact system administrator or computer manufactor for assistance.

    and the second one just restarts the computer and goes back to that screen

    i have tryed clicking view advanced options for system recovery and i restored my laptop back to a few weeks ago, but it didnt change the startup and iv removed all my files and put on back up in these options and i tryed to click another option to do with my files and it said i have no files.. im really upset because all my pictures with my mum who passed away and with my friends are on that laptop iv also tryed all the other options but it dosent make any diffrence i still carnt get onto my laptop ..iv tryed all the F buttons when it starts up and iv tryed the safe mode but it still didnt start up

    do you know what i can do to get it back on or to get my photos back… by e.g taking my hard drive out and putting it in another laptop or anything?

  9. @ Joseph Schneider,

    Have you tried starting the laptop without the hard drive? Maybe the hard drive failed and because of that the entire system cannot start.
    If you get the same problem even with the hard drive removed, most likely this is some kind of motherboard failure.

  10. Joseph Schneider

    Hello, I have a ACER Extensa laptop, running vista. When I press the power button Fan and hard drive comes on then beep sound twice then turns off. It does this again a 2nd time. When the hard drive turns iff it makes a slight soft click at the end. No video on the screen at all. I tried removing batt and starting with only power supply nothing. As well as removing ram and testing each one, nothing. Like I said fan and harddrives comes on twice for 5seconds. Any suggestion, thanks.

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