Why wont my Windows 10 laptop boot up?

There are a few common reasons why a Windows 10 laptop may not boot up properly. Troubleshooting the issue starts with identifying when in the boot process the failure occurs. Knowing which step is failing narrows down the range of potential solutions.

Does the Laptop Power On?

The first thing to check is whether the laptop powers on at all when you press the power button. If the laptop does not respond or turn on at all, the issue is likely hardware related.

Potential hardware issues preventing powering on:

  • Faulty power adapter – Try a different power adapter if available
  • Failed power jack – The port where the adapter plugs in may be damaged
  • Faulty power button – The power button itself may have failed
  • Dead CMOS battery – The small battery on the motherboard that maintains BIOS settings
  • Failed motherboard – If no signs of life, the laptop’s main board may have failed

If the laptop powers on but does not boot properly, move on to the next troubleshooting steps.

Do Fans Spin and Lights Turn On?

When you press the power button, listen and look for signs of activity. Do the cooling fans spin? Are any LED lights turning on? Seeing the fans spin or lights illuminate means the motherboard is receiving power and turning on.

If the fans and lights do not come on, potential issues may be:

  • Damaged power port – The DC jack may have broken loose from the motherboard
  • Failed power supply – The AC adapter or internal power supply component may not be providing power
  • Damaged motherboard – No signs of activity suggest full board failure

If the fans and lights turn on, continue to the next step.

Does BIOS/UEFI Splash Screen Appear?

When first powered on, the motherboard firmware displays its logo or splash screen. This is the BIOS or UEFI boot up screen. Seeing this screen means the essential hardware is working.

Potential issues if the BIOS/UEFI screen does not appear:

  • Corrupted BIOS – The system BIOS may have become corrupted or damaged
  • Incompatible RAM – Installing incompatible memory can prevent booting
  • Loose RAM – Ensure RAM is properly seated in the slots
  • Faulty graphics – If the integrated or discrete GPU is bad, no video output is possible

If the BIOS/UEFI screen loads, the core system hardware is likely okay. The next step is observing how far into the boot process the failure occurs.

Does Windows Start to Load?

After the BIOS screen completes its system check, it hands off to the Windows boot loader to start loading the operating system. At this point, you should see the Windows logo splash screen followed by the spinning dots animation indicating Windows is starting up.

If the BIOS screen displays but Windows does not begin loading, possible causes may be:

  • Corrupted boot loader – The Windows bootloader files may be damaged
  • Bad hard drive – A failed hard drive can prevent boot files from being accessed
  • Disconnected hard drive – Check SATA and power cables to the hard drive
  • Corrupted System Reserved partition – Contains critical boot components that may have become damaged

Alternatively, the system may get stuck on the Windows logo and become frozen. This suggests a problem loading the Windows kernel after the initial boot sequence.

Does Windows Fully Load to the Desktop?

The final phase of the Windows boot process involves loading the full Windows operating system with the desktop, Start menu, system tray, etc. If Windows fails to fully load to the normal desktop, there are two common culprits:

  • Corrupted Windows System Files – Critical operating system files may be damaged causing crashes or hangs while booting up to the desktop environment.
  • Faulty Hardware – Incompatible or malfunctioning components like RAM, graphics cards, drivers, etc can prevent Windows from completing the startup.

Issues that occur after successfully reaching the desktop are less likely related to boot failures and may indicate apps, drivers, viruses or general Windows corruption issues.

How to Troubleshoot a Windows 10 Boot Failure

Now that you know at what stage in the boot process the failure occurs, here is how to troubleshoot and fix some common startup issues with a Windows 10 laptop:

Laptop Does Not Power On

  • Try disconnecting the power adapter and battery, then hold down the power button for 30 seconds to discharge any residual power in the system.
  • Check that the power adapter is functional. Test with a verified working adapter if possible.
  • Plug in the power adapter and press the power button again. If no signs of activity, the motherboard likely failed.
  • If the laptop powers on but only to a black screen, connect an external display to test for video output.
  • If external video works, try reseating the laptop’s internal video cable connections.

No BIOS/UEFI Splash Screen

  • Reset the CMOS memory by locating the small circular battery on the motherboard, removing it for 30 seconds, then reinserting it. This will reset BIOS settings to default.
  • Try removing all but one RAM module, and swap modules in different slots. Incompatible or bad RAM can prevent booting.
  • If an external display is accessible, try connecting to isolate if the issue is related to the laptop’s display.
  • If hardware issues are ruled out, the BIOS/UEFI itself may need to be reflashed or updated. This requires specialized software.

Windows Won’t Start Loading

  • Enter the BIOS setup utility and confirm the hard drive with the Windows installation is listed. If not detected, check SATA cable connections.
  • Corrupt boot files could prevent Windows from starting. Start by running the automatic Startup Repair utility.
  • If Startup Repair does not fix the issue, you may need to try more advanced recovery tools to rewrite the boot files and reconfigure the Windows bootloader.
  • A hard drive failure may require replacing the drive and reinstalling Windows from scratch.

Windows Loads to Black or Blue Screen

  • Allow Windows to fully load, then hold the Shift key while clicking Restart to access the Recovery Environment startup options.
  • Select Startup Settings, then choose Safe Mode to load Windows with default settings.
  • If Safe Mode loads properly, faulty drivers may be causing the issue during normal startup.
  • Use Windows’ uninstall utility to remove recently added drivers and reboot to test normal startup again.
  • For recurring blue screens (BSODs), identify the STOP code. This indicates the root cause driver or component failure.

Common Boot Issues on Windows 10 Laptops

Here are some of the most prevalent boot problems users encounter on Windows 10 laptops and their solutions:

1. Laptop Won’t Power On

A laptop that will not power on at all when the power button is pressed is most likely experiencing hardware failure. Power issues can be tricky to isolate. Try the following steps:

  • Verify the wall outlet is providing power by plugging in another device.
  • Check that the power adapter is properly connected and the battery is installed.
  • Try removing the battery and running only on wall power.
  • Press and hold the power button for 30 seconds to discharge stray power.
  • If lights turn on but there is still no video, connect an external display.
  • Finally, confirm the RAM and internal cables are securely connected.

2. Gets Stuck Before Windows Logo

If the laptop powers on but never makes it to the Windows boot screen, a component in the core hardware startup sequence has failed. Troubleshoot by:

  • Letting it run for several minutes in case it is slowly booting up.
  • Checking for issues with RAM, HDD connections, temperature.
  • Trying a CMOS reset to restart BIOS settings.
  • Booting to a Linux live USB or recovery disk to test hardware.
  • Replacing or reseating the RAM modules.

3. Boots to Black or Blue Screen

If Windows begins loading but ends up on a blue or black screen, the operating system is likely crashing or failing to start properly. To troubleshoot:

  • Allow ample time in case it is gradually booting.
  • Boot into Safe Mode and check Event Viewer for crash error messages.
  • Use the Last Known Good configuration via Advanced Startup Options.
  • Roll back recently installed drivers or updates using System Restore.
  • Start up the Recovery Environment to scan disk and system files.

4. Gets Stuck on Logo with Spinning Dots

The Windows logo with spinning dots means the operating system is still in the process of loading. Being stuck on this screen typically indicates file corruption or hardware failure. To resolve:

  • Force power down by holding the power button. This may interrupt a frozen bootup.
  • Start up in Safe Mode to isolate the issue.
  • Use Startup Repair to automatically diagnose and fix boot files.
  • Reinstall or repair Windows from the Recovery Environment.
  • Check HDD health using CHKDSK and sfc /scannow.

5. Random Crashes or Hangs During Boot

Intermittent failures, freezes or crashes while booting Windows 10 signal hardware instability or component incompatibility. Steps to stabilize random boot issues:

  • Update BIOS, chipset and management engine firmware.
  • Stress test components like RAM, CPU and GPU to uncover faults.
  • Check Event Viewer system logs for contributing factors like temperature.
  • Scan for malware that may be infecting the boot sequence.
  • Revert overclocking or speed adjustments to RAM, CPU or GPU.

Advanced Windows Boot Troubleshooting

When basic steps do not resolve boot problems, turning to advanced tools and utilities may be required. Here are some advanced options for troubleshooting when Windows 10 will not boot properly:

System File Checker

The System File Checker tool scans Windows system files for corruption and replaces damaged or missing files from a cache. To run:

  1. Boot to Safe Mode from Advanced Startup.
  2. Open Command Prompt as admin.
  3. Type sfc /scannow and hit Enter.
  4. Restart when finished and test normal boot.

Startup Repair

Startup Repair is an automated repair tool in the Windows Recovery Environment that can diagnose and fix common boot issues by:

  • Scanning boot configuration files.
  • Verifying boot critical drivers are available.
  • Checking for corrupt system files.
  • Rewriting the BCD bootstore entries.

It runs when booting the Windows install media and selecting Repair Your Computer.


The bootrec command line tool can rebuild and repair Windows boot files. From the Recovery Command Prompt:

  • bootrec /FixMbr – Repairs Master Boot Record
  • bootrec /FixBoot – Repairs Boot Sector and Boot Record
  • bootrec /ScanOs – Scans all disks for Windows installations
  • bootrec /RebuildBcd – Rebuilds the BCD boot database

Repair Install

A repair install of Windows 10 retains files and settings while replacing system files. To do:

  1. Boot from Windows install media.
  2. Select Custom install instead of Upgrade when prompted.
  3. Choose the Windows partition to install to.
  4. Finalize by restarting the install.

Clean Reinstall

If all else fails, performing a clean reinstall of Windows 10 will overwrite all system files and reconfigure the operating system from scratch.

Before reinstalling:

  • Backup personal data.
  • Have license key available.
  • Create install media on USB drive.
  • Change BIOS settings to boot from USB.

This will completely resolve software issues, but any underlying hardware faults will still need addressed.


Troubleshooting why a Windows 10 laptop does not boot properly involves methodically checking each phase of the startup sequence. Verifying the laptop hardware fully powers on is the first step. From there, watching for the BIOS, bootloader and eventually Windows itself to load provides clues to the failure point.

Common fixes for laptops that won’t boot up include resets of the CMOS and Windows boot files. Safe Mode can isolate problematic drivers and applications interfering with boot. Finally, Startup Repair and clean reinstalls can overcome advanced corruption and systemic issues.

By combining general troubleshooting techniques with specific Windows boot tools, the majority of laptop startup and initialization failures can be resolved. Carefully analyzing the problem and understanding the boot process is key to getting Windows up and running again.