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Computer Won't Turn On? Electrical & Power Supply - Problems & Solutions

written by: Jesma•edited by: J. F. Amprimoz•updated: 6/3/2009

In the first part of this series on reasons your computer is not turning on, we discuss problems related to electricity and your Power Supply, and possible solutions.

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    Clearly Define the Problem

    So you wake up in the morning, pour yourself a cup of wake-me-up and sit down at your computer to check your email / the stocks / your myspace, press the power button on your computer and... nothing happens. Don't freak out! There are many reasons this could be happening and you need to be calm if you're going to figure out which one it is.

    The first step you need to take in troubleshooting this issue is to clearly define what the problem is. "My Computer Won't Turn On" is not enough to go on. Repeat the process, either physically or in your head, and ask these questions:

    • Did nothing happen?
    • Were there any lights?
    • Did you hear any loud beeps?
    • Did you hear fans or any other noises?
    • Is the computer ON but nothing is showing on you monitor?
    Answering these questions will help you narrow down what may be going on with your computer.
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    If Nothing Happens

    then one of the following things may be the source of the problem:

    1. Your computer may be unplugged. I know it sounds silly, but stranger things have happened. Pets, children, and spouses inadvertently dislodge power plugs on a regular basis. It is a fact of life. Ensure that your power cord is firmly plugged into the wall (or surge protector) and into the back of the computer.

    2. There could be a problem with your power circuit in the wall your computer is plugged into. Ensure this is not the case by switching on another electric device that is plugged into the same outlet or power strip as your computer. If this isn't an option, try plugging the computer into an opposite wall or in a different room.

    3. The problem could be in the power cord itself. Swap it out for a different one - the cord style is very common.

    4. If you've eliminated all of those possible causes, it is time to look into the computer itself. More than likely the problem is a failed power supply. The power supply is the big box (usually gray) located in the back of the computer. It is what the cord from the wall plugs into. If you are an intermediate or advanced user that feels comfortable working around the inside of a computer case, I recommend opening up the case and making sure the power supply is correctly connected to the internal components. If the problem isn't a loose connector, remove the power supply, check the wattage (sticker on the side), buy a comparable one and install it.

    This (possible) solution will only cost you between $20 and $40 (for a normal desktop PC in the home or office), and if it ends up not solving your problem, at least you have a good power supply that you can use later on. If you would like to try this but aren't so familiar with the inside of a computer, I recommend this article on installing a power supply.

    Computer Troubleshooting - If Your Computer Will Not Turn On

    "HELP! My computer won't turn on!" As the owner of a PC repair shop, these are words I hear every day. Find out what the most common causes are and simple steps you can take before bringing it in for repair.
    1. Computer Won't Turn On? Electrical & Power Supply - Problems & Solutions
    2. Computer Won't Turn On? Troubleshooting the Motherboard
    3. Computer Won't Turn On? Beep Codes, Lights, and Fans
    4. Computer Won't Turn On? Video & Display Problems
    5. Computer Won't Turn On? Troubleshooting Memory (RAM) Problems
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