by Gary Cox
Advice on How to Repair a Computer That Won’t Boot
We know that there are few things worse than pressing the power button on your computer and getting the response of a dead or inert computer. It might be a relatively simple repair but often ends up being something far more complex – something that may involve software (things like the operating system, your programs/ installations) hardware or both. Also, how would you know why your computer won’t boot and what do you do to find out how to repair a computer that won’t boot?
Before considering your options and deciding what you should do next, you need to ask yourself a few relevant questions, including (if it is a PC):
- Is it a notebook or a desktop computer?
- Is it running a Windows 7 8.1 or 10 operating system?
- How old is your computer? Is it still running Windows XP or Vista.
- Has it been serviceable and error-free in the last few weeks
If you happen to own an Apple Mac, those questions will be similar and no less relevant – only the specifics will differ. You might still be running Snow Leopard (Mac OS 10.6), Lion (10.7) or Mountain Lion (10.8).
Desktop or Laptop Won’t Boot
They may do the same thing but they are designed quite differently. In a market once dominated by desktop machines, laptops or notebooks have become the mainstream computer device. Their cost and practicality make them the ideal choice for consumers, but most of these are also engineered to have a relatively short life span. Don’t be surprised if that service life turns out to be just 2 or 3 years, or less.
The screen or display panel, the motherboard (including CPU and video/ graphics controller), RAM and hard drive are all vulnerable to failure. Even the keyboard and trackpad may become erratic and useable.
The problem is that whilst these components can be “repaired” if they are the cause for your computer not booting, usually by replacing them with new parts, the cost of doing this is often prohibitive, given the cost of a new, replacement computer. In this instance, recovering user data from the internal storage device (usually a hard drive) is the only cost-effective course open.
If you own a desktop computer, particularly an unbranded, custom-built machine, your repair options for a computer that won’t boot are much better. Less so if you own a brand name computer like an Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP or Lenovo – particularly those that come in a slim-line or low-profile case, or an all-in-one. Your experience may end up being similar to that experienced by the owners of notebook computers.
A custom-built desktop computer gives you a better range of options when it comes to repair or replacing faulty components if this is the reason your computer won’t start-up. This is because replacement parts are more readily available. Even here however, you could run into trouble with an old computer. Intel in particular routinely change their motherboard and CPU designs every 12 to 18 months, with old designs quickly disappearing from the supply chain. For example, if your Intel-powered desktop PC is 4 years old and needs a new motherboard, good luck finding a brand new replacement – even on eBay. Chances are it will be a used item and cost you more than it did when it was new from the computer retailer.
In this instance, you may end up not only replacing the motherboard, but also the CPU and RAM as well.
The Operating System and Other Software
Since Windows XP, PC users have had to deal with a non-stop procession of service packs, convenience roll-ups, updates, fixes and patches – and not only for Microsoft’s evolving and ever-changing operating system, but also its various Office productivity suites. Not a bad thing you might think except if you have a perfectly stable computer system one day, and end up with a corrupted, unstable mess the next. You have been able to control or turn off these updates all together, but with Window 10, those are options you no longer have.
A large number of system recovery jobs that we perform as computer repairs relate to software updates that have gone wrong, and it’s not only Microsoft who’s the culprit. Your various productivity programs & applications, anti-virus/ internet security and games, all resort to releasing (and then getting you to install) on-line updates, patches and fixes.
There is always the chance that you can redeem the situation with the Windows’ system restore function (provided you’ve kept it up to date by making a few restore points from time-to-time) and that you can access the repair and recovery features of your system to be able to run it.
Windows 7 Won’t Boot
For owners of brand name computers still running Windows 7 or earlier, you can take advantage of some very good recovery programs that can restore the computer back to original factory condition. The system/ BIOS boot keys to perform these recovery functions will vary from brand to brand.
A very similar feature has existed within the Windows system since version 8, and it’s another recovery option you have.
How Old Did you Say your Computer Was ….again?
The older your computer is, the more likely it is that you can expect problems with the various components of the system causing your computer to not boot at start-up. The motherboard, RAM, hard drive and (in the case of a desktop computer) the power supply unit (PSU) will to some extent, deteriorate over time. If your system has better quality components, you could expect your computer to last longer.
It isn’t just the hardware you should be worried about. The operating system needs regular maintenance and if you choose to ignore it, it will come back to bite you. Failing to keep your system in good order, clear of malware and viruses, and a clean system start-up free of unnecessary applications, can result in a computer that won’t boot.
Ideally, you should be reformatting your hard drive and a reinstallation of your operating system (and programs) every 2-3 years.
Apple Mac Won’t Boot
In our experience, most problems with Mac’s not booting at start up are associated with hardware. The majority of these are related to a failure of the hard drive, but there are also occasions when the failure involves the logicboard (motherboard), RAM, power supply, or graphics controller.
Replacing a hard drive is relatively straightforward exercise, though not necessarily a cheap one.
The Mac OS X is a relatively stable operating system and in our experience, less problematic than Windows and thus less likely to result in failure to start up. Nevertheless a poorly maintained, out-of-date system, or even one repeatedly “updated” from one version to the next over a period of years, can eventually lead to sudden problems one day with the result being that your Mac won’t boot.
In this instance, you’ll be relying on your Time Machine backup to get you up and running again.
If Nothing Seems to Work or it is Beyond You…
Call us on 072-898-0362 to answer your questions or to provide Computer and IT Support, we would be happy to hear from you. We at GCComp have the experience and technical knowledge to help your business with your technology issues “We know technology so you don’t have to”.