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How to Troubleshoot a No POST or System Startup Issue on a Dell Laptop

Summary: This article provides information about how to identify and troubleshoot a No POST issue on a Dell laptop.

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1. Is This a No POST Issue?

Is your system having Start-up issues?

If so, there are several basic questions to ask so you can troubleshoot the issue further.

  • Is there any damage or has any liquid spillage occurred? If so contact your Technical support to ascertain the warranty status of your system. You can also check your warranty status on our Support Services and Warranty site if you have your Service tag. Unless your system is covered for Accidental Damage, you may have to pay for a chargeable call to resolve this.
  • Is the start-up issue power related, such as there are no signs of life on the machine, no visible LEDs, and no noises heard? Try these quick steps to recover your Dell computer from a power issue.
  • Is the start-up issue giving signs of life but not getting to or past the Dell Splash screen? If so then it looks like you experiencing a No Post issue. POST stands for POWER ON SELF TEST. Your computer does this every time it starts up. It goes through a series of hardware checks and reports any faults. Proceed with this guide to troubleshoot this further.
  • Is the start-up issue with your operating system not loading after the Dell Splash screen goes away? If so it looks like a No Boot issue. Try these quick steps to recover your computer from a boot problem.
  • Can you hear the operating system starting and the LEDs on the system are showing the computer has booted, but you have not seen anything on the LCD display throughout? Try these quick steps to resolve video issues on a Dell computer.
Note: For Dell Latitude laptop PCs, you may try to recover the personal computer using the forced ePSA method. For more information, see the Dell knowledge-base article How to Use Forced ePSA to Recover from POST or Boot Failure.

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2. Identifying the No POST Codes

If you have ruled out the other issues, then we are left with troubleshooting a No POST issue. The first thing to do is to confirm the status of the machine and what it is reporting to you. You can get a list of the No POST LED and Beep codes here:
Diagnostic and Battery Indicators for Notebooks (If you require information about Desktops, see Understanding Beep Codes on a Dell Desktop personal computer.)

The Power LED

Does it remain lit, does it flash or does it power off after coming on for a time?

The Diagnostic LEDs

All Dell Latitude systems are supplied with diagnostic LEDs that can advise at which point during POST the system has encountered a problem.

Any Audible Beeps

There are several beep codes possible with a No POST issue, these can advise at which point during POST the system found a fault as with the Diagnostics LEDs.

Onscreen Error Message

If the system has gone far enough through POST, you may get an on-screen error about keyboards, hard drive, Video, and such.

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3. Confirming the Error

Ensure that there are no peripherals plugged to the notebook and that it is out of the Docking Station. If there was anything plugged up, disconnect them and check the POST again. Is the issue the same on either the battery or the AC Adapter fitted individually with the system off the Dock?

  • If it boots ok, plug each peripheral back until the fault returns. That last part is most likely the root cause. Try another similar part to ensure that it is not the connector on the system and then contact your Technical Support.
  • If it still shows the same condition, then proceed with the guide.

If the LEDs come on and then the system powers off before you can see or hear a code, then hold down both the <Fn> key and the Power Button simultaneously to start the machine up. If you hold them down together, the machine should cycle through so you can get any codes or beeps. If you let go of the key and the power button, it should try to boot to the onboard diagnostics. The Pre-boot System Assessment (PSA) is accessed by pressing the F12 key at the Dell logo screen, and selecting Diagnostics from the menu.

  • If you have an LED or Beep code, you can either call in to your Technical Support who troubleshoots this further with you or you can go to Section 4.
  • If you cannot make out any LED or Beep code, then go to Section 5.
  • If the diagnostics run do they report any error codes? Contact your Technical Support with any error code that you receive, they may have to take you through additional steps.

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4. Troubleshooting Using the Error Code

If you received a particular error code showing a particular type of issue, it can speed up the troubleshooting considerably by narrowing down your focus. If for example you got a memory error code, this would allow you to skip straight to troubleshooting the memory in the unit. If it was a Video error, again you go to troubleshooting the video. The easiest way to troubleshoot your fault further is by two procedures Removal and Substitution.


This means to remove the affected part and seeing if it changes what is reported by the notebook on startup. Keeping with the example above. If you remove the memory, does the error change to report no memory detected? If you reseat it does the fault come back?


This means either moving the part to another slot or replacing the part with a part from a similar model to see if the issue is repeated or resolved.

NOTE: The best place to find guides on parts removal for your system is in your manual or from the System Guide pages for your system type or you can get an online copy at Dell Support/Manuals.

By removing possibly faulty parts and replacing with either known good working parts or by checking them in other ports, we can narrow down whether the issue is with the part or where it connects to your system. You can report this troubleshooting to your local Technical Support, and it should speed up a resolution for you.

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5. Troubleshooting without the error code

If you are not getting a No POST code and the diagnostics are not running, then we have to fall back to general troubleshooting to isolate the fault. Try removing as many parts from the system as possible and power the machine on with those parts removed (such as Hard Drive, CD/DVD Drive, Memory, WiFi card, 3G card, Bluetooth card, and any additional parts added to the unit such as removable media and flash memory.)

  1. If it still shows the same issue with all the parts removed, then your Technical Support can use that troubleshooting to help resolve your call.
  2. If the fault changes, then it is a case of adding parts back one at a time until all the parts are fitted or the fault has returned. If the fault returns at any point then it is the part or port that has been replaced that is causing the issue. If all the parts are replaced and the machine POSTs, then it was probably a miss-fitted part that was causing the problem.
NOTE: Notebook components can sometimes move out of position due to the mobile nature of the machine, causing parts to shift in place.

This troubleshooting should hopefully achieve at least 1 of 2 things, it should either get you back up and running or it should narrow the fault down far enough, that it can help your Technical Support resolve the problem as quickly as possible and cut down on the chances of any secondary faults.

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Related Information

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Note: Do you own a Dell laptop? Send your laptop in for in-warranty repairs, and we can identify and resolve the problem if the laptop has startup issues. This service is currently available in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Additional Information

Article Properties

Affected Product

G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

25 Mar 2024



Article Type