Really odd computer problem (HELP!)

My computer does the strangest thing. I’ll hit the button to turn it on, turn on the monitor and the speakers and nothing happens. The light on the monitor flashes orange as if the computer is not on, the green light on the computer comes on and it sounds like it’s running but the monitor stays black and nothing happens. I then hold the power button til the comp switches off then start again but sometimes I have to do this two or three times before the computer will actually start. I have a gateway that has windows 98 if thats any help. Can someone tell me what’s wrong and/or what to do???

I am an electonic technician, but I work on RF power supplies, not computers. My son is the one who keeps our home network up. We were discussing your question, and we had some thoughts and questions for you:
It could be either the monitor or the video card, or the cable that connects them, or even the power supply. Do you have access to another system to swap components? Have you changed anything on the system recently? Have you had any nearby lightning strikes? Do you have a voltmeter to check the supply voltages? You are hearing the hard drive initializing, but does the computer seem to be continuing to access it afterwards as it normally does on booting up, or does it seem to be sitting idle? In that case it could be the motherboard, the CPU, or again the power supply.

From experience, I would suggest that you open up your computer case and make sure that your CPU is firmly in place.

Also check your memory, but the CPU is the likely cause.

IIRC, Most Gateway computer, when you turn it on, it will turn on the monitor automatically.

I have a computer that used to be a Gateway (I have rearranged it’s guts several times since I bought it, and now all that is Gateway is the case and the monitor), and it never turned on the monitor by itself when you turned in the computer…

My father also has a Gateway, and his does not, either… maybe the newer ones do, but the older ones didn’t…

As to the OP, it does sound like there is a loose connection somewhere. Check all of the cables in the back to make sure they are all plugged in securely, first. If that doesn’t solve it, open the case and check all of the cables inside, too. Still not solved? Maybe the CPU is loose, maybe the memory chips are loose, maybe a card is loose, maybe the actual “on” button itself is bad… could be a lot of things!

You didn’t mention:
1)How old is your comp?
2)When did the problem start? Anything odd happen at that time (crashes, software DLs that acted weird, etc.)
3)Did you install/ uninstall any hardware or software right before the problem started?
4)Any other weird things happening with the comp?
5)What is your comp skill level?

Another thought: it might be that your video card driver got corrupted somehow (happened to mine once, and caused really weird problems that took me a while to sort out), IF you know how (if you don’t, get a friend who does… cause if you screw this up, you’ll cause yourself some major headaches!), get the latest version of the drivers for your video card, uninstall the VC and reinstall it with the new drivers… that may clear it up, too!

Hope this helps a little… and good luck!:slight_smile:

“I have a gateway”

That sure narrows it down for us, doesnt it?

Sometimes if set the bios to it, pushing the power button puts it into suspend. Maybe you could turn it off at the power strip & turn it on by turning on the power strip? It’s quite alright to plug all the stuff into a power strip & turn them all on at once.

I second looking into Handy’s suggestion. On some Gateway (and other) PCs the “power” button (often confusingly) serves a dual suspend/power function. A brief touch of the power button will send the unit into deep suspend (where it sometimes locks up) and people think they have turned it off and then when they touch it briefly again to “turn on” the unit it does not respond. Removing power from the machine to re-start it is the only solution in these cases or alternatively holding the on/off power button down for 10 secs or so will often do the same thing.

Go to the setup BIOS and if there is a BIOS suspend feature option under power settings disable it and if there is a listed power button function (or similar) with the number of seconds you have to push the button in to power it down, turn this off also.

What is it about the internet that makes so many people so mean?

Jesus, handy, leave the guy alone… he asked an honest question. if you aren’t willing to answer it civilly, at least don’t answer at all.

i’m getting REALLY tired of mean cruelty on internet bulletin boards… wtf possesses people to attack others rather than offer helpful advice?

in response to the OP, all i can say is that there are a lot of intelligent people here who can help you, and please excuse the unfortunaTE user or two who have nothing better to do with their time than to ruthlessly attack people.

I’m not too great with computers but here’s my background. I got this as a graduation gift this past May. Before this my family had (still has) a Mac so I am totally clueless with this type of comp/windows/whatever. The problem started when I moved the computer up to school. Everything is plugged into a power strip/surge protector thing. The monitor does not turn on by its self. When I shut down the computer shuts it self off and I just tend to hit the monitor power button instead of reaching back to the power strip switch. When I make it turn off after it doesn’t start right I hold the power button for 10 sec or so and it turns off. It does not always do this, about half the time it starts up fine, but lately it had been doing it more (I did bring it home from school for break).

eulalia- yes it sound just like the computer is running normally but the monitor stays completely blank.

wbricks- how do I check the memory?

Astroboy14- “Any other weird things happening with the comp?” Occasionally when I go to shut down the computer sits there with the windows is shutting down screen up but never shuts down.
“Did you install/ uninstall any hardware or software right before the problem started?” I installed an astronomy program that came with my textbook around that time, but that was also when I moved to my dorm.
“What is your comp skill level?” I did install my own Ethernet card.(aka not very high)

handy-yes I know I can turn everything off and on through the power strip, we do that at home but I’d still need hit the power button on the computer to start it and that’s the problem.

Thanks for your concern zuma (I’m a girl btw :D)

What exactly is a cpu? If I know what I’m looking for I’m willing to go into my comp because I’m guessing (hoping) that’s what’s wrong.

…card. The first choice is to disconnect the monitor, pop the case, unfasten the video card, remove it and reseat it (making d*mn sure it’s fully inserted), screw it back down, close the case, reconnect the monitor, and power it all backup. If that doesn’t do it, I’d suspect your monitor power supply, about which you can do bugger-all.

Gateway had a serious issue with their monitor power supplies a few years ago, over which they lost a class-action lawsuit.

there is a good possibility I may work as a tech for the company in question
Gateway’s systems are a little finickey – if the monitor is powered up before the tower, and it makes it to the self test and then standby (Some of our monitors do it really fast) then it stays in standby and will not pick up the signal from the tower (my brand new one does this)

What I have found to work best is

  1. if you have a surge protector, dont turn it off
  2. ensure that your power button is set to power the system off, not go to stand by.
  3. be sure to power the tower up first, then the monitor.

once I began doing this, I havent run into the issue much anymore – its just a “undocumented feature” of the hardware

I’m pretty certain it’s going to be your CPU (a.k.a. processor). If that is not plugged in, your computer’s fans will start blowing and nothing else - you won’t even get a BIOS screen.

However, to reinsert the processor you have to open up your computer case, which in many instances will void your warranty. If you do decide to try this, you’re going to look for something that’s labeled as “Intel Pentium” or “Intel Celeron” or perhaps “AMD”. It will likely have a huge “spikey” thing on it called a heatsink - if your machine has been running this will be VERY hot.

The memory chips will be a little green strip sticking out with black blocks on both sides of it. However, it is unlikely that this is the culprit.

If you are concerned about warranty, have your manufacturer give you an authorized dealer to take it to for warranty repair. If you don’t have a warranty, then just press firmly but gently on the processor (CPU).

Ok the way to make your monitor turn on when you turn on your computer is a simple one IF you have the right hardware. Basically some computers, Gateway and others, come with power supply that you can plug your monitor. If you do this then when you turn on the comp. the monitor comes on also, assuming you leave the monitors on switch depresed. This really isn’t a very good idea though as the powersource only has so much power that it can send to all you components (usually about 250 watts), and a monitor can be a big drain. If the other components aren’t getting enough power they can malfunction. Since the monitor can run from the wall outlet without the help of the power supply it’s best to let it do so. Is it really THAT hard to push the extra button anyway?

Oh, on a side note, I am a friend of Intriguing Question Mark, and I am going to look at the computer tomorow. And don’t worry I do this for a living. I’m not sure who mentioned it(and I’m not going to bother to look), but as far as the warranty goes opeining the case on a Gateway isn’t a big deal. I used to have a Gateway (now it is much like Astroboy’s ) but I called tech support once and after exhausting all software options they told me to open her up. I asked about the warranty and they told me it wasn’t a problem. Perhaps kinoons can carefully avoid expanding on that topic.

For what it’s worth, I once had a very similar problem on a Dell when one of my IDE connectors wasn’t seated quite right. It would boot one out of every half-dozen times, and the other times, the power would come on, the CPU fans would spin, etc, but it would never do the POST, make any beeps, or put anything on the screen.

And since the problem happened when you moved it, this is at least a good thing to check out. Open 'er up and make sure all the pluggy bits are in their respective holey spots. If your IDE connectors are disconnected (they’re the plastic 40-ish(?) pin connectors with two rows), make sure they go back the right way (pin 1 should be marked on the motherboard next to one end of the connector, and that corresponds to the red stripe down one side of the ribbon cable. On the other end, the red stripe goes next to the power connector on the hard drive.)

If you change the screen resolution to something outside the monitor’s capabilities, some monitors will just go into standby mode. did you try this?

I have also experienced an identical problem on three quite different PC’s.

For those of you who advised checking all plugs and chips etc, in every case they were all firmly seated and connected. In fac, I even went to the trouble of removing each component and reseating it, with no resolution of the problem. It still took several flicks of the power switch to “kick in” the BIOS.

I have recently read somewhere that powering a monitor from the unswitched outlet on the PC’s power supply may lead to this problem occuring if the power supply is a little flaky. The suggested remedy was to ensure that the monitor was plugged directly from the outlet, and not via the PC.

I had an Abit motherboard that exhibited exactly the same symptoms. A replacement motherboard (under warranty, luckily) solved the problem (along with a few others it was having). BTW, mine would do it consistently (i.e. even if the machine had been running for a while, if I shut it down, I’d have to press power, turn it off, then press power again for it to start).

Question: does the keyboard num lock light go on at all? Do you get a turn-on beep? Drive access lights?

If you’re not even getting a BIOS screen, then it is NOT a Windows problem. Definitely check the seating of all cables, cards, memory and CPU, but my money’s on the motherboard. If the problem doesn’t reoccur after the machine’s been running for a while (i.e. shut down, then try starting up again) then it could also be a flaky power supply.

I’ve been wondering this for a while (on the assumption that your username is related to your last name)…You’re in RR, NM? you have a sister who works or used to work at the same place, right? If so, I used to be her supervisor there before I moved to New Jersey.

I agree that sleep mode is nothing but trouble. You’re almost always better off just shutting the computer completely off.

You might open the case and just reseat everything. One at a time, take out each expansion card, wipe the leads clean, and put them back in firmly, exactly the way you found them. Then do the same thing with the memory and all the ribbon cables going from the mainboard to the drives.

I’ve found that something approaching 50% of apparent computer problems can be fixed by doing that. Most others can be fixed by reloading, but this doesn’t sound like a software problem, unless it’s related to sleep-mode, which is notoriously problematic in windows.

If that doesn’t fix it, I recommend that you exercise your warranty soon. Gateway has service centers all over the place.

I reccomend this.

Open up the computer.

Remove the CPU, RAM, Cards, Power leads from the Power Supply, and remove the CMOS battery, and short out the BIOS reset jumper (just for a moment; look in your manual for this one), also reseat all of the connections to anything else.


Try again.

If it still doesn’t work, do the above again, but leave it all apart overnight with the reset jumper shorted.

This usually works.

If it doesn’t, pry up the bios chip a wee bit and reseat it (only do this if you actually know what you’re doing, as it can seriously fuck up your pc if you do it wrong.)

This usually works.