Computer and Software Support

Troubleshoot system turning off abruptly

Read the Safety Procedures. Very Important!!!

There can be numerous possible causes of this issue. Some systems have LED lights and/or beep codes to give you indication of what the problem is. Consult your manual for information on them. Be a good idea to make sure your files are backed up. Improper shutdowns and reboots can harm your files.

When a computer is turned on, it goes through a boot process before going to windows or other boot device (such as a CD-ROM). Click here for an explanation of the boot process.

Use this troubleshooter with the Software Troubleshooter to determine the cause and fix of this issue.

To determine what is causing the issue, try the following (Some steps may not apply to your situation. Just skip those that don't apply) Click on the hyperlink for instructions for that step.

  1. Before troubleshooting there is specific questions you need to answer Click here for the questions.
  2. If you have no video and you have an onboard video and a video card, make sure you are connected to the video card and not the onboard video.
  3. If you still don't have no video, use the No Post Troubleshooter.
  4. Boot to the BIOS and see if the system reboots while it is in the BIOS. (You may have to leave it in there for the amount of time it takes for the issue to happen. i.e. it takes 4 hours for it to shut off, then leave the system in BIOS for 6 hours) (If it reboots or shuts off while in the BIOS, then it is definitely a hardware issue and not a software issue)
  5. Speakers cause no boot - Causes of no boot from speakers
  6. The bios may have a feature that allows you to boot to a USB device. If this is turned on and you do not have a bootable USB device connected, the system will appear to be hanging on boot up. The system is trying to boot to the USB device but since the USB device is not bootable, it will hang there. It will eventually time out and continue to boot to windows. If you do not have a bootable USB device, go into the BIOS and disable this feature. The location is different depending on the bios. Some have it under Integrated devices under USB Emulation. You set the emulation to no boot. See the manual of your system for the specific information on your bios.  Click here for more information.
  7. Try Last known Good Configuration

  8. If you can't boot to normal mode, try safe mode

  9. Boot to safe mode and check for bangs in Device Manager.

  10. If you can get into safe mode, it may be software. You may want to try the Software Troubleshooter before going any farther on this page. If the software troubleshooter doesn't help or you can't get to safe mode, continue the steps on this page.
  11. Run diagnostics on your hard drive. (See the manufacturer of your hard drive for the utility)
  12. Run diagnostics on your motherboard and memory. Set the diagnostics to run at least 20 passes on the memory.  It will take hours to run that many passes on the memory but memory can pass the diagnostics on the first few passes but fail as a load is put on the memory. Click here to download memory diagnostics.  For motherboard diagnostics, see the motherboard manufacturer for them.
  13. Try copying NTLDR file from Windows CD to drive C (Windows XP)

  14. Try copying the NTDETECT.COM file from Windows CD to Drive C (Windows XP)

  15. This could be a software issue or a hardware issue. You can try the software troubleshooter to see if it is software. If it doesn't fix the issue you can try the steps below. (the software troubleshooter does have some drastic steps that you may not want to do till you try the steps below to rule out hardware before doing the drastic steps (i.e. you may want to do the steps on this page before erasing the operating system))
  16. Open the system and disconnect all PCI cards (modem, sound card so forth), disconnect IDE or SATA cables, disconnect floppy cable, disconnect power to all drives (CD-ROM, hard drive, Floppy), if system has more than one stick of memory and can run with only one stick, remove second stick and reseat the first one.
  17. Check to see if anything looks burned or charred. You might have had a power surge. (Surge protectors are designed to protect the system from this but the system can still be harmed even with a surge protector installed)
  18. Check to see if the processor or case fan is spinning. If you have an AGP or PCI video card with a fan, see if it is spinning. See if the fan in the power supply is spinning. Also touch the back of the power supply (where you plug the power cord in and see if it is hot to touch. (Be careful, if the power supply is failing, it can be real hot and can burn you if you are not careful. It should be warm but not hot. Also do not stick any object into the fan. This can cause injury.))
  19. Take a look at the capacitors on the motherboard. If they are swollen, bulging, or leaking, it can cause the issue you are having. (click here for information on the capacitors)
  20. Most power supplies have a red selector switch to switch from 115 volts to 230 volts. It will be near where the power cord goes in. Unplug the power cord, push the power button to drain the system, flip the switch to 230 volts and then back to 115.
  21. Leave the system in this configuration. If it still shuts off, then the issue is with a device that is still on the system. If the issue you are having is rebooting, removing the video card may not let you know if the system is rebooting because you won't have a picture, but if the issue you are having is shutting off, then you can remove the video card and see if it turns off.
  22. If it is still turning off, take the last stick of memory out of the system and see if it shuts off. You should still have lights and the system should beep. If the issue is that the system is rebooting, this step will not be necessary because it won't post if you remove the memory (the system will probably beep to let you know the memory is missing. That is ok)
  23. The processor may need to be reseated. This is very tricky and should only be done at last resort. Also make sure you know how to do this step and how to properly reseat it. The processor or motherboard can easily be damaged. You will probably have to replace the grease after removing the processor.  If you are not a trained technician, it will be best handled by one.
  24. If the issue continues with all the above parts removed, the problem is either power supply, motherboard, or processor.
  25. If the problem goes away, then reconnect one item at a time till either the problem comes back or everything is reconnected. By reconnecting one at a time, you can figure out which part is causing the issue. If the problem doesn't come back, the problem may be that a part needed to be reseated.

If after doing the above steps and the problem goes away when the hard drive is removed and the diagnostics pass on the hard drive, you may have a software issue. Be sure to follow the Software Troubleshooter.