Reasons Why a Laptop Won't Turn On

Written by c.a. rubino
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Reasons Why a Laptop Won't Turn On
A laptop, being portable, is much more susceptible to dangers then desktops. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

When a laptop refuses to power on, it can be a frustrating experience. Besides worrying about the cause of the malfunction and subsequent repair costs, one must contend with the possibility of lost information or data. There are a number of reasons a laptop may be refusing to turn on, some more severe than others.

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Sleep Mode

Many laptop manufacturers and operating systems use power-saving features to extend the laptop's battery life, including sleep and hibernation modes. In these modes, the unit is not fully powered down and is able to resume functions where it left off. Occasionally, laptops will get stuck in one of these modes and refuse to "wake up." One of the first things to try when a laptop is not powering on is to disconnect it from the AC adaptor and remove the battery. This fixes any problems with sleep mode and allows the computer to boot.


If a laptop is not turning on, it may not be receiving power. If the AC adaptor is no longer supplying power from a wall outlet, and the battery is fully discharged, the laptop does not have any power to use. Most AC adaptors display a small green indicator light when they are working properly. The power jack leading from the adaptor to the laptop also may be damaged. If the green light on the adaptor is on, but the laptop is acting like it is not plugged in, try wiggling the power jack. Sometimes the jack itself may be so bad that it will need to be resoldered to the motherboard.


If the motherboard has gone bad, the laptop will not respond, even if it is properly receiving power. A motherboard can go bad for a number of reasons, including heat, age, electrical surges and impact trauma. Typically, when a motherboard has gone bad, the laptop will act like it is trying to power on but shut off again after a second or two. It also may produce a single or series of beeps. A bad motherboard must be replaced entirely.


Most laptops have RAM is installed in removable sockets just as in a desktop machine. If a stick of RAM has moved slightly out of its socket, the laptop may refuse to power on. The laptop will need to be opened and the RAM reseated. A RAM stick out of place shows the exact same symptoms as a bad motherboard and should be checked if a motherboard problem is suspected.


A laptop refusing to power on may have a bad LCD screen instead. If the laptop's fans spin up and stay on or the computer otherwise sounds like it is running normally, but nothing appears on the screen, the LCD panel is bad or has lost the backlight. A very dark and faint image will still be visible if just the backlight has gone out. In either case, the LCD panel will need to be replaced.

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