Dell Computer Startup Problems

By Shanika Chapman

When your Dell computer fails to boot into Windows, don't fret. Many of the causes of start-up problems are easily remedied with patience and proper troubleshooting. Simply approach the problem calmly as you explore the possible causes of your computer problems as well as the likely remedies for the situation.

Non-Bootable Disk

Some older Dell computer models will not boot if a non-bootable disk is in any of the drives. Remove all disks in the drives and try restarting your system. Boot errors will also occur if you have switched out your hard drive with another hard drive that doesn't contain an operating system. If you have installed a new primary hard drive, be sure to install Windows, or another operating system, on the drive to allow the computer to properly boot.

Newly Installed Hardware

It is important to verify that any new hardware installed into your Dell system is compatible. Prior to installing new hardware, you should always make sure that the computer it is being installed in meets the minimum system requirements. If you have recently installed new hardware in your computer, and the start-up issues started immediately thereafter, remove the new hardware to see if the issue persists. If removing the hardware fixes the issue, chances are the hardware is either faulty or not compatible with your computer.

Safe Mode

A good test to see if your operating system is still stable, as well as a way to fix some problems, is Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a feature of Microsoft Windows that allows users to access a stripped down version of the operating system, which can often be used even when a normal boot-up fails. To access Safe Mode, tap the "F8" key as your computer is starting up. Select Safe Mode from the boot menu and wait for Windows to load. Bear in mind that Safe Mode operates at a low resolution, so your desktop will look different than usual, but this is normal so don't be alarmed.

Virus Check

Another common cause of start-up problems is computer viruses. If you are able to boot into Safe Mode, as described above, then you will be able to scan for viruses. If you already have antivirus software installed on your computer, run it once Windows finishes starting in Safe Mode. If you don't have antivirus software, select "Safe Mode with Networking Support" from the boot menu when the computer is starting. This will allow you to download antivirus software and scan your system. AVG Free is an excellent antivirus program offered free of charge (see References). Once it has been downloaded, install the software and run a virus check.


Another cause of start-up problems can be your keyboard, which can be indicated by not being able to get into Safe Mode. Check to see that your keyboard is properly connected to your computer. Also, inspect the keyboard cable for cuts or other damage. If you are using a wireless keyboard that hasn't been installed yet, you may need to use a wired keyboard until the new keyboard has been installed. If you are still experiencing problems, try another keyboard, as the wired keyboard may not be working properly.