Fixing a Dell Inspiron PC that won’t boot up [troubleshooting guide]

There are millions of Dell Inspiron computers around the world so it can be expected that some of them will suffer boot problems every now and then. While this troubleshooting article addresses Dell Inspiron machines, our Some troubleshooting steps can very well be applied to any computer as well.

Before we proceed to the main topic, we would like to remind you that we accept requests for assistance regarding their Windows computers. If you have a problem that you can’t seem to find a solution to, send us your issue by following the link at the bottom of this page. Just remember, windows problems can sometimes be difficult to diagnose so kindly make sure that you give us very detailed description of the problem. You want to mention relevant history that may have led to the issue. The more information that you can provide, the higher the chance of us diagnosing the issue more efficiently. We also expect that you mention whatever troubleshooting step/s that you may have done before contacting us in order to prevent repeating them in our article. Again, the more details you can give us, the faster it is for us to pinpoint the cause and its corresponding solution.

And now, here are the troubleshooting steps that you must do if your own Dell Inspiron machine is no longer booting up.

Force restart your Dell Inspiron

In most, if not any, PC troubleshooting, the very first thing that a user must do is to perform a restart or a hard reset. Some issues are caused by bugs that go away after the system has been refreshed. At other times, traces of excess energy or residual power can cause a bug or glitch in the circuit, which in turn can cause problems with other components. If you find your Dell PC not turning on, or appears to turn on but won’t load the operating system properly, a hard reset may be the cure.

In order to hard reset your Dell Inspiron, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Go to the back of the computer and disconnect the power cable. Note: If you have a Dell Inspiron laptop, remove the battery. If you have the type with a non-removable battery pack, we suggest that you visit this link so you’ll have an idea how to recover your Dell XPS, Dell Latitude or Dell Precision laptop PC. Still, other Dell computers can only be recovered with the help of force ePSA method so kindly follow this link.
  3. Disconnect other peripherals that’s connected to your computer like media cards, printer cables, USB drives, or external hard drives.
  4. Press and hold the power button for 15-20 seconds to drain residual power.
  5. Connect the AC adapter or power cord, the reseat all other accessories and/or the battery (for Dell laptop PCs).

Perform built-in hardware diagnostics

Whether your Dell Inspiron PC has no power, unable to boot, or having trouble loading the operating system, and a force restart doesn’t help, the next good thing to do is to make use of hardware diagnostics designed for such situations. Dell engineers have anticipated that somewhere along the way, some computers will encounter any of the problems mentioned. Each Dell computer includes a range of self-diagnostic mechanism that an end user or technician can use. These suite of self-diagnostics are called Dell Enhanced Pre-Boot System Assessment (ePSA) or Dell Pre-Boot System Assessment (PSA) Diagnostics.

Known problems with your Dell PC have a corresponding error code to help you troubleshoot the issue. In order to access these diagnostic tools, Dell includes them in each unit. The same diagnostic tools can also be accessed online.

If your PC can somehow still access the internet, we recommend that you check out this link on what to do.

If your Dell Inspiron won’t boot at all, and hence unable to connect to the Internet, you have no choice but to access the built-in hardware diagnostics (ePSA and PSA). Depending on type of machine you have, steps can vary significantly.

How to enter built-in diagnostics on a desktop computer

  1. Tap the F12 key at the Dell splash screen on start-up.
  2. Choose Diagnostics from the menu.

How to enter built-in diagnostics on a notebook computer

Before you attempt the steps below, make sure that your notebook is not docked or in a closed position. If it’s in any of this position, you may get inaccurate or false error codes.

  1. Perform one of the following button combinations during startup:
    • Hold in the Fn key and the power button.
    • Press the mute button while powering on (for Latitude E-series notebooks only).
    • Tap the F12 key at the Dell splash screen.
  2. Choose Diagnostics from the menu.

How to enter built-in diagnostics on a Windows tablet

When dealing with a Windows tablet, it’s highly recommended that you only use the pen online while it’s calibrated to your custom settings. In this situation, you can expect the pen to work properly.

  1. Turn on the system and immediately press the Volume Up button before the Dell Logo Splash screen is displayed. This allows you to access the Boot Menu.
  2. Touch Diagnostics onscreen, or press the Volume Up button to move the pointer to Diagnostics.
  3. Press the Volume Down button to confirm your selection and start the ePSA utility.

What to do after you’ve entered built-in diagnostics?

Once the phone has entered the diagnostics mode, it can take some time to report an issue. If a hardware malfunction is detected and diagnostics provide an error code (PSA and ePSA), you should refer to the Reference Table of ePSA, PSA Error Codes and Troubleshooting Steps to know what it means.

However, if no issue or error is reported by the built-in diagnostics at all, that means that there’s no hardware malfunction and the most likely reason for the problem is operating system related. We’ll tackle software troubleshooting in a separate article.

Dell Inspiron No Power issue

Knowing the symptoms of the problem is as critical as finding the right solutions. That said, you should be aware of the signs that should help you identify where the issue may lie. Since the title of this article says “won’t boot up,” it can really mean quite a number of things. It can include the following:

  • No power
  • No POST
  • No boot
  • No video

Any of these items has its own unique set of troubleshooting but for article brevity’s sake, we want to focus on No Power only. We’ll discuss each of these issues in separate posts.

No Power symptom means that your Dell Inspiron is totally dead, either because no power reaches the motherboard, or there’s not enough energy to power everything. You don’t need to test every component to confirm if you’re having a No Power situation or not. Simply check the LEDs and see if any of them is lit. if your Dell computer is

  • not powered at all,
  • LEDs are off,
  • power button is blinking amber LED
  • screen is blank or black, and
  • the fan does not make its usual noise

these are sure signs of No Power scenario.

To fix the problem, here are some of the common solutions that you must try.

Check cables and connections

In a lot of No Power cases, the main reason is poor cable connection. Make sure that everything is connected, especially if you moved some furnitures around previously. If you have a desktop and it was working normally before you disconnected or reassembled it, chances are you missed some cable or connection somewhere. Replug everything, especially the power cable. If you opened the case and took some things apart before, make sure that you reconnect all relevant parts.

Use another power outlet

Another common sense solution is to check if the power outlet you’re trying to use is working or not. If you can’t move your computer to somewhere else, make sure to use another device to see if that wall outlet is functional.

Connect your computer directly to the wall outlet

If you happen to be using a power strip or any other battery back-up system in between your computer and wall outlet, try to bypass it. This will allow you to see if there’s a failure somewhere along the connected devices.

Disconnect peripherals

In troubleshooting this kind of issue, you want to ensure that you keep the connection as simple as possible. Sometimes, peripheral devices like printers, external hard drives, flash drives, keyboards, mice, mobile phones, SD card readers, etc., may cause unintended consequences. Disconnecting them can sometimes make a difference.

Verify if external Power Supply Unit (PSU) is working properly

If the system has an external PSU or AC adapter, please check the external status LEDs and if possible test with a known good substitute and a known good adapter cable. If the fault is with the adapter please confirm the status of the adapter cable on the known good device.

Use another power cable

A computer’s power cable can sometimes go bad due to aging or some other reasons. Make sure that you test out a different one. If the power cable in your monitor is compatible, you can use it.

Check the internal PSU (Power Supply Unit) via the BIST (Built In Self Test)

If your computer is equipped with an internal PSU that has a Built In Self Test, try depressing the BIST button to see if the LED lights up. You can also unplug any internal power cables from the PSU to the motherboard and internal devices and try the BIST button again.

Did you change anything before the issue occurred?

If you did something differently like add another component, say, a second hard drive, before the issue occurred, there’s a chance the addition of such part is causing the trouble. The same is true for any software changes you may have made. Try reversing whatever hardware or software change you did and see if that will fix the problem.

Contact Dell support

If all else fails, we highly recommend that you contact Dell support or bring the computer to their authorized service center.


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