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It can be very frustrating when you sit down at your computer to do some work and it won’t turn on. While the first reaction is often panic that you will need to buy a new desktop, that is most often not the case. In most situations, there are some very simple things you can do to solve the problem. Walk through the following steps to try to discover why your desktop computer is not turning on, and hopefully fix the issue in the process.

Do You Have Power?

The first thing to check is whether you have power to your desk or home. While this may seem obvious, it is surprisingly common for people to not realize that there is a power outage when sitting down to work at a computer. Check the lights in the area to see if they are on. It is also a good idea to check the outlet that your computer is plugged into to make sure that it has power.

Is Your Computer Plugged In?

Once you have confirmed that there is electricity to the outlet near your computer, you need to make sure that your computer is plugged in. Computers can get unplugged accidentally, or because someone needs to use the outlet, or for any number of other reasons. Before contacting the support team, make sure your computer is plugged securely into the outlet. See more: How to Troubleshoot a PC Power Supply

Is Your Monitor Plugged into the Wall?

While you are checking to confirm your computer is plugged in, make sure that your monitor is plugged in as well. If you have one computer and one monitor, you will always need to have two things plugged into the outlet or power strip!

Is Your Monitor Plugged into the Computer?

In addition to plugging your monitor into the wall, you also must have it plugged securely into your computer. There are multiple different types of video cables that computers can use so the easiest way to check this is to physically look at the cable from where it comes out of the monitor to where it plugs into the computer. In most cases, the cable will plug into the back of the computer. Make sure that it is plugged all the way in.

Does Your Keyboard Light Up?

When you press the power button to turn on your computer, look at the lights (caps lock, num lock, scroll lock) on your keyboard. When the keyboard first gets power, these lights will turn on and then go off. For most models, all the lights will go on and off, but for some, it will only be one of the lights. If these lights do go on, you know that power is at least getting through the computer and to the keyboard, which is an important first step.

If you notice that your keyboard is lighting up, make sure to take note of what the lights are doing. If the lights turn on and stay on, write that down. If they blink, write that down as well. The lights on the keyboard can, in some cases, be used to help troubleshoot problems with your computer so your technical support team may ask about them.

Are the Fans Turning On?

Another thing to look for is whether the fans inside your computer case are turning on. At the very least, this will determine whether your computer is getting power to it or not. If possible, see if you can identify which fans are on and which ones are off (if any) as this could help to determine where the problem exists. Every computer model is a little different, but you can look for the following types of fans:

  • Power Supply – All computers will have a power supply on them, and in the vast majority of cases, the power supply will have a built-in fan that should always be spinning if the computer is on.
  • Front Fan – Most computers have a fan on the front within the case. This fan usually serves to draw cool air into the computer.
  • Rear Fan – Most computers also have a rear fan, which exhausts the warm air out.
  • Top Fan – While less common, some computers will have a fan at the top. This fan could be configured either as an exhaust fan or an air intake fan.
  • CPU Fan – Most computers will have a fan that is placed on top of the CPU for direct cooling. This one may be difficult to see without opening the actual computer, which is not recommended unless you know what you are doing.
  • GPU Fan – GPU fans are used to cool the graphics card on computers that have higher end models. Like the CPU fan, it may be difficult to see this one without opening the case.

Does Your Computer Beep?

If your computer is turning on but will not display anything on the monitor, you may be able to help your technical support team identify the problem by listening for beeps. Within seconds after turning the power on, computers will run what is called a POST test to make sure everything is as it should be. If there is a problem, it will alert the user with one or more beeps. If your computer is beeping, write down how many times the beep occurs as this will tell your technical support team where the problem exists.

Have You Tried Alternative Video Ports and Monitors?

An easy troubleshooting step you can take yourself is to try plugging in a different monitor or using a different type of monitor cable to connect to your computer. This will at least rule out the monitor and cable as the source of the problem. If you are in an office with lots of other computers, it will only take a few minutes to swap out your monitor for this quick test.

Is the Memory (RAM) Inserted Properly?

One last thing that you can check if you are comfortable opening the computer yourself is the memory (RAM). If it is not inserted properly or has somehow become loose, the computer will not be able to boot up. There are clamps on either side of each memory stick, pull them away from the memory to loosen them, then pull it straight up to remove. From there, slide the stick back in place and push firmly on the top until the clamps snap back in place. After this, close the computer back up and try turning it on again.

Give Technical Support the Information

If none of this works and you still can’t get your computer to turn on, you will need to contact your technical support team. When you call them, make sure to let them know that you have already completed all of the above-mentioned troubleshooting steps so they can begin their process by looking at some of the more complex issues that may be causing your problem.

Michael Levanduski

Author Michael Levanduski

Michael Levanduski is a writer with over 20 years of experience working in the IT industry. He regularly writes for a variety of different publications, providing content on a wide range of different topics, including multiple different niches within the tech field. He lives in West Michigan with his family where he enjoys camping, hiking, and of course, writing.

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Join the discussion One Comment

  • Evan Ruiz says:

    I love this guide. I am very happy that I found it. It has a lot of really useful information and is easy to read. This guide gives you the complete overview of all the steps involved in troubleshooting your computer, which can save you a lot of time and money when trying to fix problems yourself or asking for help from friends or family members who are tech-savvy enough to help but may not know where to start looking first because they don’t have any experience with computers at all!

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