How to Fix It When Your Laptop Won't Turn On

There are many causes for this common problem

When your laptop doesn't turn on, it can feel like a nightmare. You could lose work, pictures, documents, and much more.

While it may be scary, there are often straightforward solutions to get your laptop back in working order.

Cause of Laptop Not Turning On

There are a lot of potential causes for a laptop not turning on. These may include a problem with the power adapter, laptop screen, battery, or even a faulty component on the motherboard.

How to Fix it When Your Laptop Won't Turn On

To resolve an issue with a laptop that won't turn on, you should work from the most likely causes, which are the easiest to fix, and work your way to the most difficult.

  1. Check and replace the power supply. This step may seem like common sense but confirm you didn't plug the wrong power supply into your laptop. Many laptop AC adapters look the same. If the adapter doesn't offer the correct voltage and amperage for your laptop, it won't work.

    However, if your laptop's power light is on, the power supply is probably working. If both the laptop power light and the adapter power light are on, it could indicate a battery problem.

    If you aren't using it plugged in, does the battery have a charge? We've definitely been caught without a charged battery before.

  2. Make sure it's not a screen issue. A common mistake is when the screen itself is black, people assume their laptop is off when it isn't.

    First, if you've connected to an external monitor, turn up the volume. If that doesn't work, disconnect the external monitor to see if the desktop appears on the main laptop window.

    If not, use the brightness function key on your keyboard to increase the brightness. Try plugging a different external monitor into your HDMI or other video output port to check if the problem is just with your laptop's display.

    If the laptop display or monitors don't show anything but the power and/or keyboard keys are lit up, there could be a problem with your laptop's display adapter. In this case, you'd need to get the adapter replaced by a computer technician.

  3. Remove any bootable media drives. If you've ever used a USB stick or DVD to boot your laptop and forget that you've left either of those in your laptop, it could cause startup problems.

  4. Detach from any docking stations. A faulty power port or power supply in a docking station can cause issues when you're trying to start your laptop.

    Detach your laptop from the docking station and plug the power adapter directly into the laptop. If your laptop starts, then you need to replace the faulty docking station.

  5. Listen for any beeping sounds. When laptop motherboard components fail, often the laptop will issue a series of beeps. The number of beeps is actually a code to help you identify the failed component. If you do hear the beeping sounds, check the laptop manufacturer's website for what the number of beeps means for your computer's make and model.

  6. Try doing a hard restart. If your laptop turned off suddenly while you were using it, this could indicate an electric shock of some sort caused the safety mechanism built into modern motherboards to disconnect power. This is to protect sensitive components from electrical overload.

    You can remove any residual electricity by removing the battery, disconnecting the power adapter, and pressing and holding the power button for 30 seconds. Connect the power adapter again, wait 30 seconds, and then turn on the system. If your laptop starts, turn it off again and reinstall the battery.

    If the laptop won't turn on after you've reinstalled the battery, you likely have a faulty battery and need to replace it with a new one.

  7. Make sure all cooling vents are clear. Laptops have special safety circuits to cut power to your laptop if any components overheat—usually the CPU. Overheating can happen for many reasons, but most commonly, it's if you use the laptop on a pillow or sofa—any surface that blocks the laptop cooling vents. Avoid this to keep your laptop cool.

    It's also a good idea to clean all vents in your laptop case because hair, dust, or other debris can also cause overheating.

  8. Replace the CMOS battery. The laptop motherboard contains a small circular battery that powers the CMOS, which allows the BIOS to load the operating system and all input and output components during bootup.

    If this battery is dead, the laptop won't start. You can replace the CMOS battery yourself if you feel comfortable opening the case. However, most people opt to have it replaced by an experienced technician.

  9. Replace any newly installed components. Did you recently install new RAM cards or a hard drive? If your laptop stopped booting immediately after, it might indicate the new hardware is faulty.

    Try putting the old component back or sending the new one back to where you bought it for testing and get a working replacement.

  10. Send the laptop in for repairs. If none of the troubleshooting tips above helped get your laptop working again, you might have a failed component on the laptop motherboard. The best option is sending it to the manufacturer for a repair if your laptop is under warranty or taking your computer somewhere for a repair.

Like any electronic, laptops don't live forever. If your laptop isn't under warranty anymore and repair fees are steep, it might be cheaper to purchase a new one. If you do buy a new one, see if you can upcycle the old one instead of tossing it into the trash.

  • Why won't my HP laptop turn on?

    Issues with your HP laptop's power supply, display, keyboard, memory, and other components can prevent your HP laptop from turning on. The best approach is to systematically troubleshoot your HP system to isolate the problem.

  • Why won't my Dell laptop turn on?

    Surprisingly, a very common issue is a loose connection or a depleted battery. If you've verified that neither of these is the problem and the laptop still won't turn on, visit our troubleshooting guide.

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