You turn on your computer and Windows won’t start. If you’re not sure what your first course of action is, don’t panic. Fixing computer boot issues can annoy even seasoned IT professionals but following a troubleshooting checklist will help you resolve the issue without going crazy.
Windows doesn’t even begin to load.
In this case, the hardware should be the first thing to examine as malfunctioning components can cause the computer to not turn on or load properly.
- Check the cables.
If the computer isn’t turning on at all, check the rear power switch and cables. Perhaps a cable was knocked out of a socket or the switch flipped off accidentally.
- Check the power supply.
After verifying normal operation of the power cables and the switch, move on to the power supply. If you have not touched the power supply recently, it could be in need of replacement. If you have opened the computer recently and made hardware changes, check to see if internal power supply cables are still connected. You may have forgotten to reconnect them or knocked them loose.
- Have you done any system computer upgrades recently?
If Windows stopped booting after a recent hardware upgrade, it could be that the new component is incompatible with the system. Or it could be that you forgot to reconnect a critical cable. Check to see if a bad install is at fault. Should boot problems persist after verifying proper installation, revert back to the last known working hardware configuration.
- Check to see if the computer can go into BIOS.
Some hardware problems not only cause Windows to not load, but also prevent you from going into the BIOS tool. You can go into your system’s BIOS tool by turning on the computer and pressing the key for BIOS (it will be indicated during start up).
- The computer turns on but the screen is blank – This indicates the power supply works, so the problem may lie with the motherboard, processor, or video card. Problems with any of those three will typically prevent you from going into BIOS. To identify the culprit, replace each component individually and attempt starting the computer each time.
- You can go into BIOS but Windows doesn’t start to load – If the computer turns on and you can go into BIOS but Windows doesn’t starting loading, the storage drive could be at fault. The computer may show the message “Invalid system disk,” meaning it does not detect a drive with an installation of Windows. From there, you need to determine if the computer detects the storage drive at all.Go into BIOS and check if the storage drive with Windows installed is detected and in the correct boot order. The boot order is the sequence of storage/disk drives that your computer starts up. For example, a boot order of CD drive, hard drive, and then solid state drive means that the computer will load them in that order. The drive with Windows installed should be the first or just after an optical drive.If the drive with Windows isn’t detected, that means the drive’s cables came loose or it failed and needs to be replaced.
Windows starts to load but then crashes.
If Windows crashes or freezes while loading, you can fix or at least narrow down the problem by using the Windows Startup Repair tool.
- Launch Startup Repair.
When Windows crashes, the system often gives you the option to run the Startup Repair tool. If it does not, get your Windows installation disc as it also can launch the tool. Startup Repair will attempt to fix the boot file for Windows. If Startup Repair crashes during the repair process or it fails to address the issue, you may be dealing with a bad storage drive or system memory.
- Replace the system memory
Bad RAM can cause a variety of issues, including preventing Windows from loading correctly.
- Replace the storage drive.
If the memory has been replaced, hardware verified working, and Windows still crashes during the boot process, then it could be the storage drive. Replace the storage drive with a new one and install Windows normally.Hopefully you’ve followed our data backup advice so you didn’t lose anything important. If no, reconnect the old storage drive and try to grab whatever files you can salvage from it once you have Windows up and running again.
If Windows won’t start despite the troubleshooting steps above, then perhaps it is time to retire the computer Office Space style.