Computer Beeps

Dear Computer Lady,

I was bragging to my son (in his 50’s) about being on your news list and how much I enjoyed it, and what a great help you are to so many people.

He responded that he couldn’t sign up because his computer is down. He says he turns it on and it just beeps and will not boot up.

Can you advise him on what he could try to get it going.

Would appreciate any help you can give.

Ellen from Michigan

Dear Ellen,

This sounds like a hardware problem. The exact nature of the problem can usually be determined by the type of beeps.

If the beeps are long and continuous, it would indicate a RAM problem and can sometimes be fixed by opening up the computer, taking out the RAM sticks and re-inserting them. This is referred to as reseating the RAM.

You would need to make sure you take anti-static precautions before putting your hands inside your computer (to protect the computer, not your hands) and obviously you would need to know what a stick of RAM looks like.

If the beeps are in a one long and three short beep pattern, this usually indicates a video problem, which would be harder/more costly to fix.

If your son is not comfortable doing this, find a local computer shop like mine and have them diagnose and fix the computer.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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    • DiggerP
    • May 4, 2013

    Hello Ellen,

    Elizabeth is right (of course 🙂 ) that beeps and no bootup would indicate some hardware problem,
    but even a disconnected mouse or keyboard will give you that too.

    Since you didn’t mention if your son sees anything on his screen at all ,it’s possible that it could be more serious.

    A list of beep codes can be found here:
    Computer POST and beep codes

    Most likely he won’t know which make or version of the BIOS on his computer ,but if he can access the BIOS at all ,that would eliminate some things like video and RAM as being the cause.

    Failing that ,you might be able to help by getting info on the computer model and doing an online check
    at the manufacturer’s website for specs ,manuals and BIOS info.

    The rest of Elizabeth’s answer applies ,especially the anti-static precautions ,even if he were to re-seat all connectors to make sure that those aren’t the cause of the problem.


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