How to Fix Computer That Won't Boot Up

by ContributorUpdated September 28, 2017
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Items you will need

  • System recovery/repair disc

  • Operating system disc(s)

There is a cost free remedy you can use if your hard drive will not boot up. This radical resetting of the computer is called a system recovery or system repair -- not a system restore. System recovery puts your computer back to its original factory settings, so you will lose any previously saved files on your hard drive like pictures, music and word documents. Depending on the damage to your hard drive, however, system recovery may be the only way to go.

Place the system recovery disc that came with your computer when you bought it into your CD/DVD disc tray. Restart or power up your computer with the disc in the tray and wait for the special system recovery screen to appear.

Hit the system recovery special key several times until your computer enters recovery mode if you were not issued a recovery disc when you bought your computer. Each computer manufacturer has a special key you have to hit when you power on your computer. For example, the standard key is "F11" on most computers, including Compaq, Gateway, HP, IBM, Lenovo and Sony. Dell users should press "CTRL" and "F11" at start-up; Acer "ALT" and "F10"; Toshiba "F12." Your system will tell which key or combination of keys to press to enter into system recovery mode when booting up. This option will only work if your computer is capable of at least partially booting up; you will need a recovery disc if your PC cannot begin the system boot up process.

Follow the system recovery instructions regardless of how you got into system recovery mode (either by disc or hard key). Older computer models may ask you for additional system recovery/restore discs, so have those ready. The whole system recovery could take two or three hours. When done, reboot your computer to ensure the recovery process worked.

Reinstall your operating system if the system recovery process did not work and your computer still won't boot up. Place the operating system disc in your CD/DVD tray and restart your computer. Follow the prompts to reinstall your entire operating system. Restart your computer once the operating system is reinstalled to ensure this solved the boot up issue.


It's wise to create a system recovery/repair disc if your computer did not come with one so that you have it on hand. Consult your specific operating system's manual or website for guidance on how to create a recovery disc. For example, Windows 7 users can burn a system recovery/repair disc by clicking "Start," "Control Panel," "System and Maintenance," "Backup and Restore" and "Create a System Repair Disc."


Make sure you have some form of system recovery/repair disc on hand. If your computer cannot boot up at all, you will not be able to hit your recovery hard key at start-up, you'll need to run the recovery from the CD/DVD drive. If your computer cannot boot up from either option, you may have to replace your hard drive. System recovery erases all saved files on your hard drive.

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