When your computer kicks the bucket…


What to do if the operating system installed on your computer won’t boot? Or perhaps even worse, when the computer itself won’t boot?
Well don’t worry, nothing is unfixable (even when it means replacing some parts).

First of all, your files are probably fine. Unless there is a problem with your hard drive, your files should be secure. Even though you cannot access your OS, you will still be able to recover your files one way or the other.

Now what you need to do first is identify the problem. What does your computer do that it normally shouldn’t do?

  1. Does it make a different beeping sound than normal while starting up?
    • The beeping sound when your computer boots is your BIOS that tries to tell you something. Generally 1 beep means: “All is well”. If you hear more than one beep or a longer beep for instance it means something is going on.
      The problem with this is that I can’t tell you what it is since it differs from motherboard to motherboard. What you need to do is take the manual of your motherboard (or find another PC and find the manual on the internet) and read the section that explains the number of beeps. It will tell you exactly what the problem is. Once you got that you can start fixing the problem.
  2. Your computer does absolutely nothing…
    • It may seem a silly question but… is the power cord plugged in? Really, you would be amazed how many people forget this. If it is, open up your computer’s side panel, so you can see the motherboard.
      Generally a motherboard has a “standby” light. It’s on when there is power. If you don’t see a light it probably means there is a problem with your PSU, your power supply unit.
      Some PSUs have an on/off switch, make sure it’s on. If it still doesn’t work, try replacing it with a new PSU.
    • If the light on your motherboard is on you need to take a look at how you attached the power button on your motherboard. 2 small wires (more actually, but 2 that take care of the power button) run from your case to the motherboard. If they are not or incorrect connected your computer will obviously don’t do anything.
  3. Your computer starts booting up but stops at the POST test.
    • Recall the POST test? The power on self test. This test will check if all hardware is in place and working correctly. If not it will give you a warning or even an error. (No keyboard plugged in, press F1 to continue. You know that sort of stuff…).
      Take a look to what the POST test says. Something about IDE? Sata? Memory? Keyboard? Mouse? …
      Once you got this, you can fix the issue.
  4. Your computer start with a blue screen (for windows users).
    • Aaaaah the almighty blue screen of death. Read my previous post for more details on this.
  5. Your computer starts up with the advanced boot options screen (for windows users).
    • There could be numerous reasons for this. It’s kinda hard to say what to do. Most of the time, if you pick the option “boot with last known configuration”, the computer will boot again. If not you can try booting in safe mode and restore a previously made safe point.
      In general this will fix the problem.
  6. The lights are on but no one is home (so the power is on but nothing shows on the screen).
    • Do yourself a favour. Before you do anything else. Check if your monitor is working.
      Next, did you, when you managed to boot your computer for the last time. Change anything to the BIOS? If so you’ll need to reset it to the factory settings because your probably did something very wrong. You can reset the BIOS to the factory settings by changing a specific jumper on your motherboard (read the manual to know which one) and booting.
  7. Your computer tells you that it hasn’t found a booting device.
    • This can also mean a few things. First of all it could be that the computer actually cannot find a boot device. Is there a hard drive present? If it is, is connected properly?
      Did you change the boot order in your BIOS? Perhaps it’s configured incorrecly. Check it!
      The hard drive is dead. And I’m sorry, but I think that in this case the chance of getting your files back are very close to zero.

These are a few very common issues. I really hope they help you out. If there are any other problems, please feel free to leave me a comment. I’ll take a look at it if you like ;-).

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2 thoughts on “When your computer kicks the bucket…

    • Hello Tinkerbelle,

      Did you get the chance to check the details of the blue screen? Which error message is shown?

      If you have a chance to write it down and mail it to me I’ll be happy to take a look at it.

      My guess is that there is a problem with your RAM memory.
      Just let me know!

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