Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Computer won’t turn on/acts dead

I have said it here before: sometimes it’s the simple things that make for the best articles. Someone, somewhere, dubbed this truthism the “K.I.S.S. principle“, (short version=keep it simple, *silly*) and I was recently reminded of how much time we can waste when we forget it.

This story started with a very upset person calling (my tech support business) because their computer wouldn’t turn on. No lights came on. It made no sounds. The screen stayed black. It was… “dead”.
I probably don’t need to tell you just how upset this person was, and how anxious they were about losing their files.. and getting back to work.. and all. A computer “dying” on you is an upsetting experience: if you depend on it for conducting your business, it can be a costly one too.

Tip of the day: when troubleshooting problems, remember to start with the simple things.
The main cause of a “dead” computer is it’s not getting power; so I asked if the PC was still plugged into the wall? (power cords sometimes get kicked loose.) No. A power-strip.
Is the power-strip plugged into the wall? Is the On/Off switch flipped to on? Yes, and yes. (Please don’t snicker at these questions, Dear Reader: the Number One cause of “dead” computers is someone’s foot {or vacuum cleaner} flicking the power-strip Off. Check this!)
Hmmm.. now things were getting more serious. So I had the caller plug a lamp into that particular wall outlet to verify that the circuit was ‘live’. It was.

I confess I temporarily forgot about the KISS principal, and I started down the logic path to the two next primary causes– a failed power-supply unit, or a ‘fried’ motherboard. Both serious repairs that I cannot perform over the phone.
Fortunately, before I went too far, years of experience came to the rescue. I had the caller unplug the PC from the power strip and plug it directly into the wall. “I heard a ‘beep’!” the caller exclaimed, “and the little red light is flashing!” This was one happy person.

What had happened was not tremendously common — the power-strip itself had failed. (But sometimes the built-in circuit-breaker needs to be reset.) But it does happen. Extension cords sometimes wear out and fail. And.. sometimes power-supply units fail and motherboards die. Before you go out and spend $100 for a replacement unit, make sure you apply today’s lesson and eliminate the easy things first.

If you should be unfortunate and have a “dead” computer, and you have tried these things and determined that it is your power-supply unit (PSU), the second question in this article discusses the replacement process. If it is a motherboard failure, you may want to let a repair technician do the installation for you.

(A final story point: the caller’s anxiety might not have been quite so high had they been in the practice of making backups.. which all my loyal readers do. Right?)

Today’s free link: A lot of you have been interested in my articles on managing the programs which load at startup. Sometimes finding and eliminating these can be tricky. The geek tool for tracking down Startup loaders is AutoRuns. from website: “This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and shows you the entries in the order Windows processes them. These programs include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys.”

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 15, 2008 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, hardware, how to, PC, tech | , , , | 2 Comments