Having your PC or laptop not booting at first attempt can be frustrating. You might need to boot it 5 times before it boots up, you might need to boot it 50 times, depends on the situation, but it’s irritating nonetheless.
There are different things that might happen in this kind of situation. For example, your PC might not boot completely for a few minutes, no matter how many times you try in that time interval. Another example would be the PC booting up, then shutting down after a few minutes, and it might even take an exact number of boot attempts before it boots up. If you’re facing any of these issues, you shouldn’t just sit there, but you should fix the issue instead.
The culprit is almost always a hardware problem, and there are a few things that you should try in order to identify which part is causing the problem. Read on and see how to check everything.
Method 1: Check your hard drive
If the fans are spinning, you notice that everything is okay, but your computer fails to boot Windows, that might be the culprit of a failing hard drive. It will take a few attempts before it successfully reads all files necessary for Windows to boot, and it might even take a while, which only adds to the frustration. Fortunately, checking the hard drive is fairly easy, provided you have access to another PC.
What you need to do is remove both the SATA cable and the power supply cable from the hard drive, and take it out of your case. Connect both cables to the other PC, and try booting it. Note that you will need to do the following steps for the other PC to try and boot from your hard drive, and not the one that is already installed.
- Enter your You should repeatedly press the key that is shown on the POST screen, as well as your system’s manual, and it’s usually Esc, Delete, F2, F8, F10 or F12.
- Once inside, search for the boot menu, and inside, the boot order. There are usually instructions on either the bottom or the right side of the BIOS that tell you how to change the boot order, make sure that your hard drive is first. If it isn’t, set it so.
- Exit saving the changes, and reboot.
At this point the PC you’re testing your hard drive in will either have the same symptoms as yours, or will boot up fine. If it has the same symptoms as yours, it means that the hard drive is definitely failing, and you will need to replace it as soon as possible, as having it fail completely may result in complete data loss. However, if the PC boots up fine, your hard drive is okay, and you should read on for the other possible causes of the problem, as well as their solutions, below.
Take a look at this extensive guide to troubleshoot a failing hard disk
Method 2: Check your power supply
Boot up issues, if not connected to the operating system or hard drive, are most likely connected to your power supply unit. This can be critical, as a failing power supply might also damage or destroy other components, such as your processor, graphics card, and even your entire motherboard. Checking the power supply is pretty easy, however there are a few things you should note first. If you have an old power supply unit, and it takes a few minutes and attempts to boot up, it may be that the PSU fails to supply the necessary power to your system unless it’s at a certain temperature. Those first few attempts will warm it up enough for it to be able to boot your PC, but it’s a failing PSU that needs replacing nonetheless, so try doing that as soon as possible. You can also use a flashlight and take a look inside the PSU, you should be able to do this using the holes where the fan is located. Check for any bulged capacitors, or ones that are leaking, as they may also cause this problem. If all of this is okay, you can use the old paper clip trick.
- Open the case and find the big connector (usually 24-pin) that connects to the motherboard.
- Find the green wire, and the adjacent black wire, and use a paper clip, or any other way for that matter, to connect them together.
- Plug the power supply into an outlet on your wall.
If the PSU fan starts spinning, it means that the PSU is fine and there’s another problem with your PC. If the fan fails to start, you know you have a dead power supply unit, and you should be getting a new one as soon as possible.
Method 3: Perform an ATX reset (only applies to laptop users)
If the problem is with a laptop, it might mean that your laptop is soft-bricked, and if you manage to turn it on, it might switch off immediately, and it’ll take you a fair few attempts at booting it up again. Fixing this, however, is fairly easy, and will require an ATX reset.
- Turn off your laptop, and unplug it.
- Remove the laptop’s battery. You can also remove the BIOS battery if you have access to it.
- Hold the power button for around 30 seconds. The laptop should boot up fine the next time you try.
Having a failing piece of hardware can be very problematic. You don’t know when your PC will stop functioning, and you might lose important data if that happens, especially if it’s a failing hard drive. And, if it’s a failing power supply unit, it might fry your processor, your graphics card, or even the entire motherboard, which can be very costly to fix. However, in the guide there are methods that you can use to check all of those things, and potentially save your computer, so don’t hesitate to try them.