Picture the scene. You get into work or want to use your home computer, hit the power button and nothing happens. The computer beeps, shows the logo and won’t boot into Windows. How what? What exactly can you do if Windows won’t boot? This is one of the most common computer repair requests we get here at Dave’s Computers in Hillsborough, which is why I wrote this post.
While Windows 10 is more reliable than ever, not everyone is using it and not everyone has upgraded it correctly. Add to that the dozen or so other reasons why Windows might not boot and you have a confusing array of causes and remedies to contend with.
The same as with any troubleshooting task, we have to look at the symptoms to ascertain the likely cause. I’m going to list some of the more popular symptoms our computer repair team see on a daily basis and the likely cause. That way you can try them out before bringing your computer into our store. Or not. We are more than happy to do all the work for you if you prefer!
‘No bootable device’
If your computer boots and tells you ‘no bootable device’ it means it cannot see the hard drive or the boot sector that tells it where Windows lives cannot be found. This is a common problem that can be as simple as booting into Safe Mode or as annoying as having to replace the hard drive.
The best thing to do is to let the computer reboot and press Del or F8 to boot into your system BIOS. Look for the hard drive in the hardware list. If it’s there, put your Windows boot media into the drive and boot into Startup Repair from that. If the hard drive isn’t in the list, you may need to check the cables or replace the drive.
Startup repair will try to automatically repair the boot manager and get Windows working again. If it doesn’t work, use the installation CD again to load into safe mode with command prompt and use Fixmbr. This page has all the details.
Computer boots but Windows partially loads before resetting
If you see Windows begin to load but then reboots into a loop, it is likely a software issue. This is good news as it is fixable. The bad news is that it can take quite a while to address. First thing to do is follow the steps above to load startup repair or Fixmbr.
If you recently added any new programs or updated drivers, these might be causing the issue. If that’s the case, boot into safe mode and uninstall whatever you just added. Then reboot into normal mode and see if Windows boots. If it does, great, if it doesn’t move on.
If that doesn’t work, boot into safe mode using the Windows installation media. Just select ‘Repair my computer’ instead of Install as above. Then select Refresh Windows 10. This will repair the entire installation and will not remove or overwrite any of your personal or saved data. System refresh is a useful computer repair tool if we have tried everything else. The only other option aside from a refresh is to reinstall Windows and we only do that as a last resort!
Blue screen crash during boot
One of the big advances in Windows 10 is that it is much more forgiving than previous editions. It can cope with hardware of software incompatibilities and can repair itself much better than before. Sometimes it does come up against something it cannot fix itself which is when you see the ‘blue screen of death (BSOD)’. If you see this when trying to boot into Windows, look at the message underneath. It will often tell you what is causing the issue which gives you a head start in performing your own computer repair.
Boot into safe mode using the installation media and check Event Viewer.
- Press Windows key + R, type ‘event’, select Event Viewer and hit Enter.
- Uninstall any software you installed or drivers you updated.
- Look at Windows and Application logs to see what’s up. You will likely see red exclamation marks next to critical errors. Note the error code and search it online.
BSOD are software issues nine times out of ten which will show up in Event Viewer. It is your best friend when troubleshooting blue screen crashes. The majority of BSOD are caused by changes you make to the system. It is rare indeed that Windows suddenly decides to play up.
Computer won’t boot at all
If your computer won’t boot at all, the fans won’t spin up or there is no life in the box, this is most likely a hardware issue. There is a series of tests our computer repair team undertake to isolate in a logical order. For some of these tests you really need spares. If you don’t have any, just bring your computer to our store and we can troubleshoot for you.
- Check mains power and make sure the socket is on and cable attached.
- Change the mains cable and/or socket and retest.
- Check the computer power supply and swap out. Retest.
- Check all cables from computer power supply into motherboard and graphics card.
- Change the computer processor and retest.
- Change the motherboard and retest.
The power, motherboard and processor are the only components that will prevent the computer from booting. If memory is faulty, graphics card or hard drive fails, the computer will boot and beep at you. If it does nothing at all, it will be one of those three.
If your computer starts and beeps at you but will not boot, check your manual to see what those beeps mean. Most motherboard manufacturers will set a specific beep code to help you troubleshoot. For example, if it beeps three times it may mean it cannot read the RAM. If it beeps in a particular sequence, it may not be able to find your graphics card. Each motherboard is different so check your manual.
Troubleshooting a computer that won’t boot is one of the most common computer repair tasks we see. Now you know a little more about how it all works, you may be able to troubleshoot yourself. Otherwise, bring your machine to Dave’s Computers in Hillsborough New Jersey and we can take care of everything for you.