Troubleshoot POST Errors on PC Start Up - dummies

By Dan Gookin

Should your PC experience Power-On Self Test Errors when it starts up, you can troubleshoot by entering the PC’s Setup program or by contacting the manufacturer if your PC is still under warranty.

The POST is the Power-On Self Test that all computers take when they start up. A computer that fails the POST has hardware trouble.

Your PC may or may not beep when it starts. If you hear two or more beeps where you heard only one before, the PC may have either a power supply problem or a video system problem. Otherwise, the PC’s splash screen is displayed. Any POST errors after that point are displayed on the computer’s monitor.

What you can do with a POST error depends on the error message. Some error messages are cryptic. One POST error message is 58. Hmmm.

Text messages can be just as bad. For example:

Resource allocation conflict on motherboard

You can choose from two solutions for these puzzling start-up messages:

The first solution to try is to enter the PC’s Setup program and determine whether the issue can be resolved there. Often, any errors encountered during the POST are flagged in the Setup program, or at least information is provided to help you resolve the issue; for example, to resolve a hardware sharing conflict.

The second solution is to contact the manufacturer or your computer dealer to see what’s up. If the computer is under warranty and the problem is severe, the manufacturer or dealer has an obligation to fix it.

  • Some PCs sport error feedback on an LCD or by using colored lights on the console. For example, a red light blinking three times on an HP computer might mean that the processor isn’t installed or has popped out of its socket.

  • Don’t think that every code you see on the splash screen is a POST error. Many computers display information during start-up that is completely normal and expected.

  • POST error beeps vary in their number and variety. Generally, they refer to a problem with the power supply, memory, or video system.

  • A common POST error is a missing input device, such as the keyboard or mouse. In fact, one of the most comical error messages from the early days of the PC went something like this: Keyboard missing, press any key to continue.

  • If you have access to another computer and the Internet, or if your cellphone has Internet access, you can search for specific POST errors. Many PC manufacturers list the lot on their support websites.

  • Obviously, audio error messages work only when the PC’s internal speaker works.