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Troubleshoot a Blank Screen on PC Start Up

The loud sound of nothing when you turn on a PC means there is a power supply issue. To troubleshoot this symptom, check the following items in this order:

  1. Does the PC have power?

    You cannot compute when the power is off. Likewise, you cannot compute during a dip, commonly called a brownout. In that situation, the power is on but running at a low voltage. Lights work, but motors don’t. If the lights are on (dimly) but your computer doesn’t work, you may be experiencing a dip. Wait it out or check with the power company.

    You might be tempted to run your PC from a UPS, or uninterruptible power supply, during a dip. Don’t. Use the UPS only to save your stuff and then properly shut down the computer. (If you have a generator, you can run the computer from its power, but not from a UPS.)

  2. Is the power supply on the computer operational?

    Do you hear the fan? Are any console lights on? If not, the power supply may need to be replaced.

  3. Is the monitor on?

    It's an obvious question, but many have fallen prey to this maddening problem.

  4. Is everything connected?

    Both internally and externally, cables must be plugged in and wires firmly seated. Especially if you just moved the computer, a cable can become unplugged easily.

    Inside the PC is a different story: It doesn’t happen often, but cables can wiggle loose — especially because of wide variations in the internal case temperature or if you drop the computer or kick it down the hall.

If you complete these steps and still cannot pinpoint the origin of the nothingness, the issue is most likely too large for you to resolve on your own. Before toting the computer into the shop, however, consider its age. Old computers die. If your PC is more than eight years old, it might just have expired. To fix that problem, buy a new computer.

  • One way to confirm a dip is to check to see whether the refrigerator or furnace fan is running.

  • Some uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) beep during a dip. A few models feature digital displays that may graphically show that the incoming voltage level is subnormal.

  • It’s possible to use a laptop when the power is off — well, if the laptop has a charge in its battery and nothing else is awry.

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