A dead computer can really put a damper on your day. With modern demands, pretty much everything we do relies on them. So here are some tips to hopefully bring it back to life.
Clean Install Your Operating System
The operating system is the program you use to control your machine, such as Windows and macOS. These are incredibly complex in nature, and because of this, they can become “corrupted.” When this happens, they can become glitchy and stop working correctly. Things like viruses and malware can also cause instability. However, you can wipe the OS and install a new version. While you’re at it, you could free up space (see how-to here) to upgrade to Ventura with macOS or Windows 11 for a Windows machine. Newer OSs offer better functionality.
Open a Dead Computer and Clean It
If you are somewhat confident about opening your PC, you can clean the inside. The way in which a computer works to cool itself is with fans. And these fans draw in air to circulate around the inside of the case. But with this air comes all the particles and dust that are in your room. And dust can cause overheating due to slow fans to prevent your machine from booting up. Fortunately, this dust accumulates around vents and on fans that are easy to reach. Using a soft-bristled paintbrush, gently wipe away dust from case fans and the CPU fan.
Replace the Graphics Card
If your machine sounds like it’s working, but there is nothing on your monitor screen, it could be your graphics card. Your graphics processor could be onboard, meaning it’s either on your mainboard or your CPU. Or it can be a separate card slotted into a PCI channel. Either way, it’s easy to figure out if the problem lies with your graphics. Simply try another card. Also, the preferred display might have been switched in BIOS. So try changing the setting to use onboard or PCI graphics to switch between the two. And don’t forget to swap your display cable too.
Check the RAM
Computers are great for home jobs like data entry. But even a minor issue can make working a massive headache. An often overlooked problem with PC issues is the random access memory (RAM). RAM can be incompatible with your mainboard, become damaged, or even somehow move out of position. So check your RAM:
- Open up the PC case by removing the clear side that your mainboard isn’t attached to.
- Ground yourself by touching the inner metal part of your PC case to prevent static.
- Gently press down on the RAM DIMM clamps to loosen them and pop out the RAM.
- Take out the RAM and inspect it for burns, damage, or dust and gently wipe it.
- Replace the RAM by gently pressing down into the RAM channels until the clamps click.
Like any part of your PC, RAM can lose fidelity over time. If you have an older PC, it might be worth replacing your RAM and installing more if you can. More RAM will make your PC run faster, and you can get a little more life out of it while you save for an upgrade or a replacement.
Swap Out the Hard Disk
Hard disks are designed to last for a long time. But they don’t last forever. A traditional mechanical hard disk drive (HDD) will last for around six years before it begins to degrade. Newer solid-state drives (SSD) last for about ten years. Signs of a failing HDD include slow performance and random crashes. However, there are no signs of an SSD coming to the end of its life. It will essentially just die. So if your PC is coming on but won’t load, try installing a new hard disk of your choice, along with a fresh copy of your preferred operating system.
Try New Cables in a Dead Computer
Another overlooked issue with computers is the cabling. Often, cables can take a bit of a beating and don’t show the respect they deserve. Because of this, they can become damaged inside and stop working correctly. If your PC is dead, not POSTing, or has a blank screen, simply try swapping out some cables. Try a different power cable if there is nothing happening. For a blank screen, try swapping over the display cable, such as VGA or HDMI, that runs through to your display device. If these don’t work, it could be a case of installing a new PSU.
Check It’s Switched On
Finally, but by no means the least, check your device is actually switched on. While this sounds funny, it’s one of the most common reasons why people think their PC is dead. Often, nobody is to blame. Some manufactured computers come with power buttons in strange places. Your machine might have a separate power button for the power supply on the back or underneath. So check for a power button that needs to be switched on to allow power through to the PSU. Sometimes these can be knocked into the off position. And, of course, check your plug socket.
It can be devastating to have a dead computer, especially if you need it for work. But often, the problems are minor. A fresh OS installation can help. And checking the RAM for dust or even that your machine is actually switched on can also be common issues.