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Written by:Steve Radich - Founder BitShop, Inc.
4/21/2009 12:58 PM 

So one day you go to turn on your laptop and nothing..  Do you replace it? Do you need to hard reboot it? Do you need a new power adapter? Do you drop it off at a repair center?  Go through these steps to check what's wrong and hopefully it will save you some $ and enable you to get it working faster than a repair center would. 

  1. When you plug in the laptop do any lights turn on / blink / any signs of life? 
    1. Charging light on, nothing else: Hold power button to try to turn off/on for several seconds. If this doesn't work try step 2.
    2. Lights On / Blinking: Nothing on screen: You may have set the screen output to an external monitor (most laptops support this), or you could have something "hung".  You can try keyboard combinations to cycle through the monitor outputs if you know how.
    3. Hard Reboot It: Power off by holding the power button, remove power cord, remove battery - Let it sit several seconds then reinstall battery, power cord, and power on.  Anything? If so you are lucky and done :-)
  2. Is your plug inside your laptop loose / broken? This is rare but bad: If it is and your laptop is a low end (by today's standards) laptop you may be just as well off buying a new laptop - Fixing this requires disassembling the laptop and either buying a new adapter and soldering it onto the motherboard, or something similar. If you have "no fear" of electronics then this may be "fun" but in the way of practical cost it's rarely worth it - there's a risk of breaking the components when you disassemble it, things are quite small inside a laptop and not very easy to disassemble / reassemble.
  3. Test your power adapter (if you can):
    1. Perhaps you have a spare one? If so try it - They do fail from time to time.
    2. CAUTION: Setting the wrong voltage or polarity can destroy your laptop.  If you don't understand these steps I would strongly encourage you to seek expert help.
    3. A universal power adapter can be bought from most electronics retailers (Radio Shack, Best Buy, Walmart, etc.). Some "true" computer stores (i.e. a local computer store) have the actual OEM adapters, either new or sometimes used.
    4. If you have a universal adapter check you have the voltage set properly (your laptop will say what voltage it uses, the voltage range is very broad, DO NOT GUESS). Your old power adapter will also say the voltage on it (output voltage). 
    5. Check the polarity - The polarity (which side of the plug is negative versus positive) is also usually on both the laptop and the adapter, this can be more confusing, it's usually a symbol showing the + either inside or outside the plug.  Some of the more user friendly universal adapters list which adapter # to use for various brands of laptops. Read your power adapter manual to figure out how to reverse this if it's wrong.
    6. Plug in your universal adapter and see if lights come on / your computer works. If so hopefully this has solved your problem.
  4. Power Adapter: If you can't do it yourself: Unfortunately the power adapters are probably $50-$150 depending on your laptop - It's not really a component the store wants you to "try". Some are more willing than others, but you shouldn't go into a store and expect to be able to "test this" free.  As I mentioned, several retailers sell these. Radio Shack, Best Buy, Walmart, local computer store (likely the best choice if you have one), online, etc.  If you can do without your laptop a few days then searching ebay for the exact power adapter model # will likely turn up results and be very cost effective - But remember it'll be a used adapter - Be careful of the seller.
  5. At this point you've covered the basic troubleshooting steps, you could have a truly broken laptop.  You should seek professional repair service, laptops are harder to work on than desktops (due to size) and fewer people work on them.  There are places that specialize in laptop repair in most metropolitan areas.

Good luck, and I hope you find this information helpful.


12 comment(s) so far...

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Great tips! Thank you.

By Pam on  4/21/2009 1:49 PM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Thanks so much for the thorough troubleshooting! We've done the obvious items on your list, but still have some left to try.

By Pam on  4/21/2009 1:49 PM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

my dadz laptop was charching for more than a day do nedd a new laptop the lapbrand is compaq

By amin.g on  9/9/2009 12:39 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

ok i have an acer labtop. i plug it in then turn it on. all it will show is an page that says ACER an in the lower left hand corner it says press F2 for seting. it only shows this page for a few sec then it go's black... the labtop is still on but it does nothing. iv tryed pressing every butten an opening the setting page. the setings page does come up an i can change the setting but thats all does anyone have any sort of pointers or now of anyone that can help?????????????

By alex gilgy on  9/9/2009 12:39 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

I can't thank you enough for this article. My laptop stopped working because the charger was not plugged in correctly. Within minutes, and unbeknown to myself, I moved the little switch on the side of the universal charger and set it to a wrong setting - then my laptop would not switch on. So I organised a man to come in the morning and then went onto a spare computer to do a search ... you article explained what | had done wrong, it's fixed now but I am backing it all up ... just in case .. lol Thank you so much - I owe you !

By AnneMarie on  9/9/2009 12:42 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Alex: Is there a blinking cursor at the top or is the laptop ONLY have a black screen with NO activity? Unfortunately it really isn't enough to troubleshoot but there's two likely potential problems: 1) Your disk is corrupt (Virus, failed disk, etc.) and the system can't boot - however no error gets displayed for some reason. 2) The video card is failing, however for a video card to display ANYTHING (except junk) would be very odd failure. You need to take the laptop to someone who can try to service it.

By Steve Radich - Founder BitShop, Inc. on  9/9/2009 12:41 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

To Alex, That was a stage I had my laptop in at some point a cple days ago. Does it always come to the same point in the booting process, or does sometimes go farther? You could be able to bring it up just by patiently turning it off and back on until it boots all the way. Then run check disk for sure.

My experience was just like that:

By Matt on  9/29/2009 3:37 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Great posting. Thanks of shairing information is useful and important.

By Fosia on  4/9/2010 12:41 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Very informative, I have been learning how to trbouleshoot notebook issues, this would help a lot.

By PA-1650-02 on  4/9/2010 12:42 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

My laptop issue is almost the same as everyone elses,but not quite.6 months ago,tequila and orange juice spilt all over/around still loaded like a charm,but dvdburner,ethernet outlet,and wifi stopped working,permanently.Earlier this week my screen froze on me from out of nowhere.I turned it off and powered it back on manually.It comes on for 3-4 seconds everytoime and then shuts off.This is a repeative process over and over.On the 8-10th try,it will load windows,but will freeze completely again,for good.I wait it out.It still stays frozen.I just noticed my fan isn't coming on at all.It's a dell latitude d610.Give me specific insight on what the issue is.I want this thing up and running again,soon.

By Adam on  4/9/2010 12:43 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

my laptop dosent turn on at all. i took out the charger, the replugged it, and the light came on, but it turned off straight away. it wont turn on, but the light on the charger shows its charging. my friends think it might be a virus, could it be? i need my laptop for n assignment, but its not working. I need help!

By grace on  10/26/2010 1:18 AM

Re: Help: My laptop won't turn on

Thanks for sharing. Having outlets like this is very important for all the consumers who are having problems with their laptops.

By laptops on  10/26/2010 1:19 AM

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