Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

My laptop won’t turn on and only beeps when I start it. Is it dead? Or is this a simple fix?

I have HP Pavilion 6DV laptop running Windows Vista, Home Edition. When I
try to turn it on, I get a single beep and then a long beep and the machine
will only turn off when I remove the battery pack. Fortunately, I have
everything backed up. Yea! I do this monthly. And I’m wondering if this is
terminal or just a keyboard glitch with a sticking key. This has been suggested
by a work colleague but not being competent, I’m reluctant to start dismantling
the laptop. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #68
, I look at a computer which is delivering mysterious beep
codes when trying to boot.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Beeping computer

No, I don’t think it’s a sticky key. You would be seeing something else
going on either on the screen or you’d be able to turn it off with the power
button or something.

This does sound like a hardware problem of some sort. Unfortunately, it’s
not the case where I really think it’s something where you can be successful
going in and opening up the laptop to try and sort it out.

And it’s true for me as well. I’m not saying “you” as an individual. I’m
saying that laptops typically require some level of technical expertise that
is beyond most of us, to be honest.

Beep codes

So, the beep codes are interesting.

I will point you at one site called ComputerHope.com/beep.htm.
They have a listing of common beep codes.

Very often the beep codes that you have in a situation like this will
actually provide a little bit of information to the technician who’s diagnosing
the problem.

  • The good news is that there is a list like that.

  • The bad news is that I can’t find the beep codes that you’ve reported on
    that list.

But the concept is the same. My guess is that your one-short followed by
one-long is the HP’s BIOS trying to tell you something about what it thinks is
wrong with the computer.

It is apparently unable to display anything, which is why it has to resort
to beep codes to try and get you the information. You might try and research
from the HP support site to see if they have any information about the beep
codes on their machines; and what the specific patterns of beeps might
mean.

It is possible that understanding the beep code would at least give you a
clue as to what either to replace or expect a technician to replace when the
machine truly gets diagnosed.

Hardware problem

But ultimately, yes, when you’re getting beep codes, it is indicative of a
hardware problem. It’s typically, not necessarily terminal.

It just means that there’s a piece of hardware that ain’t working and the
computer is at least broken enough that it can’t throw up anything on the
screen for you. It needs to communicate with you via beeps.

How easy that is to fix, or even whether it is fixable, there’s no
way to tell without actually taking a look at the machine. That’s why I
recommend you take the machine to a technician for a diagnosis.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

5 comments on “My laptop won’t turn on and only beeps when I start it. Is it dead? Or is this a simple fix?”

  1. Congratulations for having a backup!
    As Leo suggests, check the HP support site for beep code errors.
    Also disconnect any USB devices. Remove the hard drive and optical drive. Start your PC and see if there are beeps. If no beeps, one of the devices you removed is faulty.

    Reply
  2. My HP seemed to be prone to static, particularly because you could pop it on to a docking station. So even just carrying it or picking it up and touching the contacts on the bottom for the docking station sometimes created a static pop.

    One day the battery refused to charge, and it won’t work with just AC (no battery), so likely something internal.

    I just decided for what I might pay to have someone look at it and new part, I might as well buy a new laptop. I’m much happier with my new one, even though I loved my old one.

    Reply
  3. More often than not, a beep code relates to a video problem or a memory card problem. Since yours is a Laptop, try removing the Ram Cards one at a time. IE: remove one card, try to restart. If you get the same beeps, Re-install the card you took out & remove the other one. Repeat process. If still getting a beep code, you could try swapping with a known good card, from a friend, etc… or go to staples, office max, even walmart, & get a card known to fit your machine. You can always return it. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to take it to someone. You could try removing the optical drive & trying to restart as well. It’s worth a try. I fix Laptops all the time & this would be my first moves. Also, as an after thought, make sure you don’t have a faulty memory card in the card slot. Many times a card goes bad & the machine won’t start with it in the slot.
    Good luck, & post back to let us know how it worked out for you. J.

    Reply
  4. Put in a boot disk such as Ultimate Boot CD or even your Windows media install disk.
    If no beeps you have a software problem and a reinstall of Windows may be necessary.
    Ensure BIOS boots to CD first ..enter BIOS by hitting del(delete) key or F2 several times as soon as computer is switched on.
    Jp

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.