I work for a large company and we have hundreds of PC’s. When they stop working, I have to find out why. While the total lack of response from a PC may seem like a huge problem it is actually easier to fix than a virus or spyware infection.
Everything in a PC is powered by the power supply. The nice thing about PC power supplies is that they are self contained little boxes that can be easily replaced. If your PC is totally dead the problem is most likely the power supply. Lately I’ve seen a rash of dead supplies in recent HP machines that stop the PC cold.
Most PC’s use a standard “ATX” power supply that is widely available from computer supply stores like CompUSA or even Best Buy. The first thing you have to do to get things working again is open up your PC’s case and determine if you supply is “standard” or if you need to get an exact replacement from the manufacturer. A lot of PC’s these days open up without any tools. Look for a latch under the front or a big thumbscrew in the back that will allow either one side of the case to come off or the outer case to slide either forward or back to expose the chassis. Some PC’s require that you remove three or four screws from the back and then slide the case back. Careful inspection should reveal the secret. If your PC is from a major manufacturer such as Dell or HP, a scouring of their Web site for your model will probably reveal the case removal procedure.
With the case off, look for a metal box with several multi-colored wires coming out of it going to various and sundry places inside. This is your power supply. The wires end in connectors that power your dives and motherboard. If you have a PC that is more than about a year old you should see connectors that are about an inch wide for your hard drive and CD or DVD drive and connectors that are about a half inch wide for any floppy drives that may be present. More recent PC’s have “SATA” hard drives that have a slimmer power connector still an inch wide or so but very thin. Then there is a large connector that attaches to your motherboard. You can unplug all these connectors and unbolt the power supply usually with four screws that hold it to the back of the case. Note what type of connectors you have and get a new supply with the same connectors. It would be a good idea to take the power supply to the store with you to make sure. If you have an “extra” connector that goes to the motherboard other than the large main one, you most likely have a proprietary power supply that can only be purchased from the manufacturer. They aren’t much though. I got a proprietary power supply from Dell to fix one of their machines for about $40. If the computer store can’t sell you a supply with the same connectors as you have, call the manufacturer.
When you’ve got your new supply simply reverse the process. Plug all the connectors into their proper sockets and screw the supply back onto the case. The screws that PC’s use are generally all the same thread so make sure to hang on to any screws that you may need to use for the replacement. This should bring a totally dead PC back to life in a hurry.