Broken Computer
November 26, 2008 5:10 PM   Subscribe

I think my computer just died. I cannot get anything to appear on screen. What are my options?

My home computer is fairly old and today when I went back into my office to check my email, nothing would appear on my monitor. When I turn the monitor off and on it says that it is detecting no signal.

The computer appears to turn on, but since I can't get a picture I am not sure what else to do.

I can afford to buy a new computer, but if I do, how would I get my data off my old computer? I luckily brought home my work laptop so I can even ask this question. So, is there a cable I can buy? Should I just pop out the hard drive? (If so, how do I connect that to my laptop?)

I don't really want to go buy a new graphics card if it turns out that it is the rest of the computer that is fried.

I have lots of family photos and stuff on my old computer. Most of it is backed up, but some of the stuff is not backed up. Any help you can give me would be appreciated.
posted by bove to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This happens to me quite often. The cable at the back has been pulled out. Before you spend any money or call anyone, check the cables.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 5:15 PM on November 26, 2008

Cables are firmly in place, both at the computer and the monitor. When I turn monitor off and on it still tells me that there is no signal input.
posted by bove at 5:19 PM on November 26, 2008

What actually happens when you turn the computer on? Do fans turn on in the back? Does the power light turn on? Does it beep at all?
posted by niles at 5:21 PM on November 26, 2008

Other non-catastrophic possibilities are: the cable needs to be replaced, the computer's video card needs to be replaced, the monitor needs to be replaced.

In any case, there's presumably nothing wrong with the hard drive. That's where your data is. You can easily install it in another computer -- or an external hard drive enclosure that you can plug in to another computer's USB port.
posted by winston at 5:23 PM on November 26, 2008

The power light comes on and the fans also come on. It is not beeping.
posted by bove at 5:24 PM on November 26, 2008

What other equipment is easily available to you? Can you try a different cable? Can you try the same monitor with another computer? The same computer with another monitor?
posted by winston at 5:25 PM on November 26, 2008

I think I could probably plug the monitor cord into my laptop. I am pretty sure the monitor and cable are find, since they are the newest parts of my whole setup. I just bought the monitor a few months ago. The computer is 6 years old and my wife tells me that earlier today this problem happened, but when she restarted the computer it fixed the problem. She also says that earlier today the computer failed and restarted on its own today.
posted by bove at 5:29 PM on November 26, 2008

I just plugged the monitor cable into my laptop and it worked fine.
posted by bove at 5:33 PM on November 26, 2008

Are there any noises coming from your hard disk(s)? If it sounds like the drive(s) is powered on and running normally (i.e., not making strange grinding noises), then you should be able to just but an IDE-to-USB cable and get your data onto your new computer that way.
posted by roomwithaview at 5:38 PM on November 26, 2008

I would gander it's either the monitor (which you seem to have ruled out with your laptop.. good move) or the video card. If your computer is super-old, it might be hard to find a video card for it that will fit. My friend just had a similar situation arise and he had to buy a video card off the internet to bring his pc back to life. You might want to open up the computer, clean it up, and make sure that video card is in there nice and snug!
posted by Bageena at 5:40 PM on November 26, 2008

There aren't any noises coming from the hard disk. It sounds like it is powered on and running normally. It sounds like buying the cable might be the best solution. Any trick to knowing which cable to buy?
posted by bove at 5:41 PM on November 26, 2008

I just opened it up and blew all the dust off and now I am getting picture. The order of the day is to quickly back everything up to my flash drive.
posted by bove at 5:47 PM on November 26, 2008

Bove (and the rest of you, for that matter) - I recommend using an automatic backup service. I have no affiliation with and am not a paid actor/advertiser, but I do use their software, and it's a measly $5 a month for unlimited backup (read: peace of mind). Makes situations like this a hell of a lot less stressful. There are other services that do the same thing for the same price, so again, this isn't a plug for mozy in particular. It just sits in my system tray and backs my stuff (480 GB, currently) up whenever the comp's idle. Which is nice.

Glad to hear you got things working again!
posted by ewingpatriarch at 6:09 PM on November 26, 2008 [1 favorite]

If this happens to you again for good and your screen is dead, you can still take the computer to a techie guy and they can most likely get your data off the computer and put it onto a new one.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:26 PM on November 26, 2008

Something inside the case may be loose. If it quits again, open up your computer and make sure everything (cards, memory, cables, etc.) is seated properly. @ewingpatriarch's backup advice is excellent.
posted by cnc at 11:15 PM on November 26, 2008

Well after backing stuff up to my flash drive, the computer shut off and never started again. I had to buy a new computer, but I didn't lose any data.

I am also now using Dropbox to backup my files.
posted by bove at 6:43 PM on December 27, 2008

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