Learning Resources

Troubleshooting Notebook

Computer does not power on
When a computer simply will not turn on, there are a variety of possible reasons why, but it is best to check for the simplest explanations first.

A computer cannot operate without electrical power, so first consider if the battery was charged or not. Check the A/C adapter, as well. Make sure the outlet it is plugged into works, and look it over for any signs of physical wear and tear. Once it is connected to a working outlet, check to see that the LED is on and that all connections are firmly attached with no jiggling. Any aberrations here and you can conclude that the problem is related to your power supply.

Disconnect all peripherals from your system before attempting to boot your notebook. It’s possible that a peripheral may be causing the problem, and removing that item before startup will reveal it or, at the very least, simplify the process of discovering the true problem.

If your notebook beeps during startup and doesn’t turn on, the problem is likely either a BIOS failure or a bad memory module. The beeps are not random; they are a code put in by the manufacturer to tell a technician what is wrong. You can check for a BIOS problem by looking for the beep code for your computer online.

Checking the memory modules is relatively easy. You can usually get to the memory easily through the bottom of the notebook. Most notebooks have two memory slots. Remove one memory module and try booting your notebook. If it boots up fine, you know you have a bad memory module or memory slot. If not, follow the same steps with the second module. You may need to install a new memory module to get things back in working order. By alternately testing a working module in each memory slot, you can narrow down the source of your troubles.

If you can hear the fan and hard drive spinning but see nothing on-screen, the problem may be that only your notebook’s display has failed.

Random Freezing Or Shutdown
Overheating can cause a host of problems includinga frozen display, but the fix is usually simple.

One of the most common complaints with notebooks, frozen displays and sudden shutdowns are no less frustrating. It can mean loss of data if you had not recently saved your open projects, and it’s annoying and time-consuming to have to reboot.

More than likely, these problems are caused by your computer overheating. Computers generate heat when they operate, and if that heat cannot be dissipated, connections are stressed and components can be damaged. As a safeguard, notebooks have a built-in feature that will shut the computer down automatically if it gets too hot.

The first thing to check is if the fan is doing its job. Inspect the vents on your notebook to ensure they are not blocked. Air needs to be able to circulate underneath the computer, too. With unblocked vents, if your notebook feels hot but you don’t hear the fan kick on, the fan itself needs attention. It may simply be a matter of cleaning out any accumulated dirt or dust in the vents and on the fan itself, but if a few blasts of compressed air don’t do the trick, try to remove the fan and clean it by hand. Fan removal can be easy or very difficult depending on the brand of notebook; proceed here with caution. After a thorough cleaning, if the fan still does not work, consider replacing it.

Shutdowns may also occur as a result of a loose switch; if you can rule out overheating as a culprit, take your notebook to a repair shop so a professional can evaluate the machine.

Display Problems
Those LCD screens look nice, but they and the components that connect them to the motherboard are relatively delicate. Any drop or jolt can cause display damage.

Screen problems come in a variety of types, each one indicating a unique cause. A completely black display indicates that the connection between the screen and the motherboard is loose or disconnected. Thin lines across the display are caused by a slightly loose connection to the motherboard. A dim image is most likely due to a failing backlight. Growing stains or blotches are a sure sign you need to replace the screen. If the display degenerates or scrambles after you have been working for a while, the computer is overheating. Dead pixels, which show up as tiny black, white, or solid-colored dots on-screen, are common, but there is no fix. However, many manufacturers will replace a notebook’s display after a certain number of pixels die.

Mostly, these problems need the attention of a professional technician. Attempting to fix screens is a difficult and delicate process and may require substantial disassembling of the notebook, which could void your warranty.