What Is a Beep Code?

Discover the root cause of the problem

When a computer first starts up, it runs a Power-On Self Test (POST) and will display an error message on screen if a problem occurs.

However, if BIOS encounters an issue but hasn't booted far enough to be able to display a POST error message on the monitor, a beep code—an audible version of an error message—will sound instead.

POST screen example showing a BIOS version number

Beep codes are especially helpful if the root cause of the problem has something to do with video. If you can't read an error message or error code on the screen because of a video-related problem, it's definitely going to deter your efforts of finding out what's wrong. This is why having the option to hear the errors as a beep code is so incredibly helpful.

Beep codes sometimes go by names like BIOS error beeps, BIOS beep codes, POST error codes, or POST beep codes, but usually, you'll see them just referenced as beep codes.

How to Understand POST Beep Codes

If your computer isn't starting up but is making beeping noises, the first thing you should do is reference your computer or motherboard manual for help translating the beep codes into something meaningful, like a specific issue that's occurring.

While there aren't too many BIOS manufacturers out there, each one does have their own set of beep codes. They might use different patterns and beep lengths—some are really short, some are long, and everywhere in between. So, the same beep sound on two different computers is probably expressing two entirely different problems.

For example, AMIBIOS beep codes will give 8 short beeps to indicate that there’s an issue with the display memory, which usually means that there's a malfunctioning, missing, or loose video card. Without knowing what 8 beeps means versus 4 (or 2, or 10, etc.), will leave you pretty confused as to what you need to do next.

Similarly, looking at the wrong manufacturer's beep code information might have you thinking those 8 beeps are related to the hard drive instead, which is going to set you off on wrong troubleshooting steps.

See our article on how to troubleshoot beep codes for instructions on finding your motherboard’s BIOS maker (usually AMI, Award, or Phoenix) and then deciphering what it is the beep pattern means.

On most computers, the motherboard's BIOS produces a single, sometimes double, short beep code as a kind of "all systems clear," an indication that the hardware tests came back normal. This single beep code isn't an issue that needs troubleshooting.

What If There Is No Beep Sound?

If you've made unsuccessful attempts at starting your computer, but you see no error messages nor hear any beep codes, there may still be hope!

Chances are, no beep code means your computer just doesn't have an internal speaker, which means you won't be able to hear anything, even if the BIOS is producing it. In these cases, your best solution for finding out what's wrong is to use a POST test card to see the error message in digital form.

Another reason you may not hear beeping when your computer starts up is that the power supply is bad. No power to the motherboard also means there's no power to the internal speaker, which renders it unable to make any beeping sounds.