What can I do if my Windows 8 laptop won't start?

Started ‎03-05-2013 by
Modified ‎06-30-2014 by
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What can I do if my Windows 8 laptop won't start?

Question

Note: If you're using Windows 7 or Windows Vista, please see this article.

 

My Windows 8 computer is unable to boot. What can I do?

 

Symptoms could include one or more of the following:

  • Power button does nothing
  • Monitor has graphical errors that make it impossible to use
  • Blinking cursor on a black screen
  • Message saying "Bootmgr is missing"
  • Message saying "No bootable device"
  • A Windows error message
  • Restart loop
  • Other problems relating to being unable to boot

Answer

 

Possible Causes

 

There are multiple problems that could cause a computer not to start:

 

  • There might be a problem with the power.
  • A recently installed or upgraded program or driver could be interacting incorrectly with the computer.
  • The Windows installation on the hard drive could be corrupted. This can occur if the computer was turned off incorrectly or had a virus.
  • There could be an actual hardware failure.

We'll help you figure out which was the cause, fix it if possible, and back up your data if needed.

 

Troubleshooting Overview

 

When the computer powers on, the hardware must know to look on the hard drive for Windows before Windows begins to load. Once we have checked the basic systems of the computer, we will consider the actual windows installation.

If none of this can fix the problem, Windows might be corrupted beyond repair or there could be a hardware failure. We’ll help you backup your data and perform a recovery, returning the computer to its out-of-box condition. Performing a recovery will fix most software-related problems, including corruption of Windows and viruses. You can also skip directly to a system reset if, at any point, the steps above become too complicated.

The steps below correspond to the steps in the article.

 

  1. Check the AC power socket to ensure it has power
  2. Perform a power cycle
  3. Check battery and AC power
  4. Reset the system settings to ensure the hand-off to windows is correct
  5. Attempt to boot in safe mode, a special way to load windows in the event of a critical system problem
  6. In safe mode, undo any changes that might stop Windows from loading correctly, uninstall anything recently installed, undo any recently changed settings
  7. Perform a system restore, which restores the computer back to a certain point in time
  8. Attempt a “clean boot,” which boots Windows without any additional applications starting
  9. Back-up your data
  10. Perform a system recovery 

Before Windows

 

Before Windows loads, the computer must be receiving power and the various parts of the computer must be communicating. Sometimes there can be a problem with the power that stops the computer from giving control to Windows. First, we'll check that these pre-Windows systems are working correctly.

 

1. Check the AC power socket

 

The first step is to ensure that the power outlet is working.

 

  • Check that the electrical socket works by plugging another device into it.
  • Confirm that your laptop receives power.

 

2. Perform a power cycle

 

Even when your laptop is off and unplugged, residual power can still be held in some components. While this is normal, clearing it can help with boot problems. Perform these steps to complete what’s called a power cycle.

 

  1. Ensure the laptop is turned off.
  2. Unplug the laptop's AC power cable.
  3. Remove the battery (if the model has a removable battery). If your model doesn't have a removable battery, it may have a pinhole reset. Check your user's guide for information, and if it does, press this button.
  4. Unplug all wires or peripherals. This includes CDs, DVDs, USB sticks, mice, printers, and any other accessories.
  5. Hold down the power button for thirty seconds.
  6. Reattach the battery.
  7. Connect the AC adaptor to the power socket that was confirmed to be working in the first step.
  8. Connect the other end of the AC adaptor to your computer.
  9. Try starting the computer.

If your laptop starts normally now, you're done!

 

3. Check the battery and AC adaptor

 

If the laptop still won't start, the AC adaptor or battery may have failed.

 

  1. Ensure the laptop is turned off.
  2. Remove the battery (if the model has a removable battery).
  3. Attempt to start the laptop.
  4. If that doesn't work, reattach the battery.
  5. Unplug the AC power from the laptop.
  6. Attempt to start the laptop.

If the laptop works without one of those two accessories (the AC adaptor or battery), it would seem that the accessory has failed. If your computer is under warranty, please contact customer support. If your computer is not under warranty, you can purchase a replacement AC adaptor or battery from Toshiba Direct.

 

4. Reset the system settings

 

Sometimes the settings in the UEFI system settings change and cause errors. If you're able to do so, reset them by using the instructions from the following article:

 

Video How To: Resetting the BIOS (UEFI) in Windows 8 pre-installed machines

 

Loading Windows

 

At this point, we've checked the basic systems of the computer and are done troubleshooting the hardware. We're now going to consider the actual Windows installation. If at any time these steps seem too difficult, you may skip to the recovery step (step 10). Problems with the Windows installation can occur after a recently added or updated application, game, or driver doesn't interact correctly with the rest of the computer. This could even be due to incompatibility.

 

5. Enter Safe Mode

 

Windows has a special mode known as Safe Mode. It is not fully functional, but it allows you to make changes to the laptop to hopefully fix normal mode. We're going to attempt to boot into Safe Mode to use it fix the laptop.

 

For more information on how to boot into Safe Mode please see the section in the following article:

 

How To: Safe Mode and other Advanced Startup Options in Windows 8

 

If you're still unable to boot into Safe Mode, you could also use a system repair disc.

 

Creating a System Repair Disc for Windows 8

 

If you are unable to enter Safe Mode, please skip to the section titled "Backup and Recovery."

 

6. Use Safe Mode to undo recent changes

 

When a computer won't start Windows, it's usually due to a recent change. If you installed a new piece of software before your laptop began to have trouble booting, you may want to uninstall it. Similarly, if you recently made a change to any system settings, you may want to change it back. If you have antivirus software, you may want to perform a scan. If you're not sure what to do here, feel free to skip to the next step!

 

7. Use Safe Mode to perform a system restore

 

Windows includes a utility called System Restore that can help with many problems. While this won't alter or remove any of your personal files, it will roll back your system settings and files to an earlier date. We'll use this to attempt to fix Windows.

 

To learn how to use System Restore, please check the following article:

 

How To: Understanding System Restore, Refresh, Reset, and, Recovery options in Windows 8 + Video

 

8. Use Safe Mode to initiate a clean boot

 

As Windows loads, it loads many additional components such as services and startup items. Some of these are not vital. For example, some tools start immediately with Windows, such as antivirus software. From Safe Mode, we can instruct Windows not to load many of these. This will help you determine if one is causing Windows not to load properly. Note that this step is more advanced than the previous steps. If it seems difficult for you, you may consider asking for help from someone who is more comfortable with computers.

 

  1. Hold the Windows key and press 'R' to open the run box.
  2. Type "msconfig" in field.
  3. Press ENTER.
  4. In the "System Configuration Utility" window, choose "Selective Startup" on the "General" tab.
  5. Uncheck "Load Startup Items."
  6. Click the "Services" tab.
  7. Check "Hide All Microsoft Services."
  8. Click "Disable All."
  9. Press "OK."
  10. Restart the computer and see if Windows loads normally.

If Windows loads normally, you'll know one of those startup items or services was causing the problem. If this is the case, you may want to return to the System Configuration Utility and re-enable some items and services to determine which specific one caused the problem.

 

Backup and Recovery

 

If these steps haven't fixed the problem, the final step is to back up your data and perform a recovery. A recovery will return a laptop to its original, out-of-box state and eliminates software as a possible cause. If the hard drive has become corrupted or if you have a virus, this is a great fix. While you may be hesitant to perform a recovery, if you're considering having your laptop serviced, a recovery is a necessary step of the repair process. In addition, we'll discuss options of backing up your data.

 

9. Backing up your data

 

If you were able to enter Safe Mode in step 5, backing up your data should be easy. To use Safe Mode to back up your data, perform the following.

 

  • Enter Safe Mode as you did in step 5.
  • Connect a USB flash drive or external hard drive.
  • Copy your important files to the flash drive or external drive.

If you were not able to enter Safe Mode, you may consider taking your laptop to a professional. 

 

10. Reset

 

As a final step, try performing a reset. This will return a laptop to its original, out-of-the-box state and is a great way to eliminate software as a possible cause of the problem. Note that doing a reset will return the laptop to its default conditions, completely wiping all data, documents, settings, and applications. Remember to backup your data!

 

To learn how to reset your laptop, see the following article.

 

How To: Understanding System Restore, Refresh, Reset, and, Recovery options in Windows 8 + Video
 

If you have trouble starting the recovery procedure, you may consider ordering recovery media. If the recovery does not fix the problem or if you're unable to perform the recovery, your laptop may not be booting due to actual hardware failure. Please contact customer support to set up a repair.