How to Troubleshoot a Compaq Laptop
By Norvill Clark
HP now supports the Compaq laptop. You should perform a hard reset as the first troubleshooting activity. The hard reset corrects many problems found with most laptops. If the laptop still does not start or operate properly, you have various troubleshooting techniques you can use to correct or repair your laptop.
Disconnect all peripheral devices, USB devices and media cards attached to the laptop.
Disconnect the AC adapter and remove the battery pack. Hold in the power button for a minimum of 15 seconds to clear the system of electrical current.
Reconnect the AC adapter to the laptop but do not re-install the battery pack. Depress the power button and look for LED light activity. Listen for signs that the disk drive and fan are functioning. If the computer fails to start or starts but is not operating normally, begin investigating the specific symptom. If the laptop is operating normally, shut down the laptop and reinstall the battery pack.
Resolving No Power Issues
Exchange the AC adapter, power cord and battery pack with working components from another Compaq laptop. You can use this to test your power supply if you have no LED light activity or the display remains black after you turn on the laptop.
Connect the AC adapter and locate the laptop "Reset Button." The "Reset Button" is in a hole located on the bottom of the laptop. Insert a paper clip to press the "Reset Button" and hold for approximately five second to reset the notebook. Press the power button to start the laptop to ensure that it is operating correctly.
Download and install updates for the drivers, utilities, operating system, applications and devices associated with your laptop. Visit the HP, Compaq and Microsoft websites and use either the "Drivers or Downloads" tab or the "Search" feature to find the drivers and downloads applicable for your laptop. Describe your particular laptop or model number to begin searching for updates.
Troubleshooting Display and Hardware Problems
Connect an external monitor to test if the display and other external devices are defective or incorrectly connected to the laptop. Press "Fn" + "F5" to switch between monitor and laptop display. If the external monitor works, reboot the laptop and review all error messages that appear on the laptop display. These error messages will be visible on a black screen. Visit the HP, Compaq and Microsoft websites for information pertaining to the error messages. Follow all suggestions regarding the resolution of the error messages.
Power up the laptop, and immediately press and hold the "F2" or "F10" key. This opens the BIOS setup screen. Press the "F9" key to reset the BIOS to default conditions. Restart the laptop and record any on-screen error messages that may appear. These messages indicate conflicts between the firmware, BIOS and external devices. You will also receive prompts to reenter BIOS and make the appropriate settings change to resolve any hardware conflicts. If the laptop powers up correctly, visit the HP, Compaq and Microsoft websites and download all updates for your drivers, utilities, firmware, operating system and pertinent application software.
Press the power key, and immediately press and hold the "Esc" key to access the Extensible Firmware Interface (EFI) environment. Only laptops running Windows 7 and Vista use EFI. On the EFI Startup Menu screen, navigate with the tab and arrow keys and follow all instructions to access System Diagnostics and run the Start up test, the Memory Test and the Hard Disk Test. After running these diagnostics, reset the BIOS to default conditions. If the laptop powers up correctly, visit the HP, Compaq and Microsoft websites and download all updates for your drivers, utilities, firmware, operating system and pertinent application software.
Resolving Blue Screen and Similar Issues
Click "Start," "Control Panel" and "Add or Remove Programs." Follow the on-screen prompts to remove any recently installed software that may be causing a Blue Screen. The same applies if the laptop fails to continue booting after the Windows logo screen appears, or if the laptop continually restarts without prompting.
Click "Start," "Control Panel, "System" and open the "Device Manager" tab to observe if all devices are correctly installed. If you observe a yellow question mark, right-click on the device and click on the "Update Drivers" button. In addition, right-click on the device and click on "Enable," if possible. Restart the laptop to determine if this resolved the problem.
Reinstall the applications or devices only after you have updated the drivers, utilities, firmware and BIOS. Visit the Compaq and Microsoft website to download the appropriate updates.
Recover the Laptop to Its Original Condition
Insert a recovery disk in your CD/DVD drive to restore your laptop to its original condition. This disk could be either a CD or DVD and may involve more than one disk. Perform this action only if all troubleshooting methods have failed. Follow all on-screen prompts to restore your laptop to its original condition.
Visit the HP, Compaq and Microsoft website to download updates to your drivers, utilities, firmware and BIOS.
Download updates for your anti-virus software application. Run a full scan with your anti-virus software.
- Review the troubleshooting section of your User or Service Manual. If you do not have the manual, visit the Compaq or HP website and download the appropriate manual for your particular laptop.
- Contact a certified repair technician if you determine that your laptop has no power.
- Perform additional hardware diagnostics if you hear beeping sounds. These are beep codes. Perform additional hardware and firmware diagnostics if you see LED lights blinking but the operating system fails to load. These are error codes. Perform the specific diagnostic task associated with the beep code, LED error messages or POST codes emanating from your laptop. Contact a technician for assistance if you are not familiar with these codes.
- The Systems Diagnostics pertinent to EFI resides in a separate partition on your hard drive. If not found by EFI, you will receive prompts to insert your Restoration-Utilities CD-DVD to create the partition and load the utilities.
- For Vista and Windows 7, the Systems Diagnostic software automatically controls the Hardware, Software and Memory Tests.
- Restoring your laptop to its original condition will delete all information on the hard drive. Create backups, if possible, of your personal files before restoring your laptop to its original condition.
Writing since 1994, Norvill Clark has more than 25 years of diverse high-tech experience including corporate law, sales, marketing and graphic arts. He writes for eHow and Answerbag on topics related to computer technology and law. Clark holds a Juris Doctor from American University.