Hardware Laptops

Laptop won’t turn on? Here’s how to fix it

Laptop won't turn on
Blackout: find out how to revive a dead laptop

You’ve flipped open the lid, pressed the power button and… nothing. The screen remains blacker than a Radiohead album, there are no lights, it’s as dead as Elvis.

What now? Here are a few things to check to bring your laptop back to life.

Laptop won’t turn on: check the battery

A laptop refusing to switch on is most likely down to some kind of battery failure. Either the cells have run dry, the battery has come loose or there’s some other power supply problem.

Most laptops these days don’t give you access to the battery – they’re sealed inside the case. However, if you do have a removable battery, take it out and reinsert it. It’s easy for a laptop to get knocked in transit and come unseated from its power connectors.

If that doesn’t work, try removing the battery altogether and plug the power cord in. If the laptop fires up, you know for sure the problem lies with the battery.

Some laptops will let you test the battery’s health without switching the laptop on. Look for a small button and set of LEDs on the base of the laptop. Press that and it will give you a battery read out – if the LEDs light up, you know the problem lies elsewhere. If they don’t, a dead battery is to blame. 

If your battery is sealed and doesn’t have a battery life indicator, there are a few other things to try before you trudge down to the repair shop.

Laptop won’t turn on: power supply

If the battery’s dead, the problem might be with the power supply rather than the battery itself. 

Check the charger. It’s common for the kettle-plug connector to come unseated where it plugs into the power brick halfway up the cable. 

laptop charger
Look for an LED on the power brick. If it’s not lit up, the charger’s your problem.

Some power bricks have an LED light on them to indicate they’re plugged in and receiving power. Other laptops have a little LED next to where the power cord plugs into the laptop itself. If the laptop’s not getting any power from the charger and the battery’s run dry, it won’t turn on.

Replacement laptop chargers aren’t cheap, so you might want to check the fuse in the plug before you bite the bullet and replace the charger. We’d always recommend buying the manufacturer’s own charger rather than a generic, third-party version. You can often pick them up cheaper second-hand on sites such as eBay.

Laptop won’t turn on: more things to try

If you’ve still had no luck, try disconnecting anything else plugged into the laptop other than the power cord. Unplug any docking stations, USB cables or external disk drives and see if that brings the machine back to life. It’s unlikely, but an electrical fault or power surge from another component may stop the laptop from booting.

If the laptop itself appears to be powering up – you can see lights, hear the fans whirring etc – but the screen remains black, you may have a display problem. Try plugging the laptop into an external monitor (ask a friend if you don’t own one). If that works, it may be that the screen’s display connector has come loose. That will almost certainly involve a trip to the repair shop, but it shouldn’t be a costly repair. 

Now read this: How can you improve Windows 10 laptops’ battery life?

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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