How to Troubleshoot Beep Codes

Is Your Computer Beeping? Here's What to Do

Beep beep text on a window
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Is your computer making a beeping sound when it starts... and then doesn't really start? No, you're not crazy, your computer really is beeping, and the sound may be coming from inside your computer, not your speakers.

These beeps are called beep codes and are used by the BIOS (the software that runs your computer hardware) during the POST (an initial test to make sure your computer is OK to start) to report certain initial system errors.

If you're hearing beep codes after you turn your computer on, it typically means that the motherboard has encountered some kind of problem before it was able to send any kind of error information to the monitor. The beeping, then, is a way to communicate a problem to you when the computer can't show a proper error on the screen.

Follow the steps below to determine what computer problem the beep code is representing. Once you know what's wrong, you can work to fix the issue.

How to Troubleshoot Beep Codes

Figuring out why your computer is making beeping sounds should only take 10 to 15 minutes. Solving that problem that you identify is another task entirely and could take a few minutes to hours, depending on what the problem ends up being.

  1. Power on the computer, or restart it if it's already on.
     
  2. Listen very carefully to the beep codes that sound when the computer begins to boot.

    Restart your computer if you need to hear the beeping again. You're probably not going to make whatever problem you have worse by restarting a few times.
     
  1. Write down, in whatever way makes sense to you, how the beeps sound.

    Important: Pay close attention to the number of beeps, if the beeps are long or short (or all the same length), and if the beeping repeats or not. There is a big difference between a "beep-beep-beep" beep code and a "beep-beep" beep code.

    I know this might all seem a little crazy but this is important information that will help determine what issue the beep codes are representing. If you get this wrong, you'll be trying to solve a problem your computer doesn't have and ignoring the real one.
     
  1. Next you'll need to figure out what company manufactured the BIOS chip that's on your computer motherboard. Unfortunately, the computer industry never agreed on a uniform way to communicate with beeps, so it's important to get this right.

    The easiest way to figure this is out is by installing one of these free system information tools, which should tell you if your BIOS is made by AMI, Award, Phoenix, or another company. If that doesn't work, you could open your computer and take a peek at the actual BIOS chip on your computer motherboard, which should have the company name printed on or next to it.

    Important: Your computer maker is not the same as the BIOS maker and your motherboard maker is not necessarily the same as the BIOS maker, so don't assume you already know the right answer to this question.
     
  2. Now that you know the BIOS manufacturer, choose the troubleshooting guide below based on that information:
     Using the beep code information specific to those BIOS makers in those articles, you'll be able to figure out exactly what's wrong that's causing the beeping, be it a RAM issue, a video card problem, or some other hardware problem.

    More Help with Beep Codes

    Some computers, even though they may have BIOS firmware made by a particular company, like AMI or Award, further customize their beep-to-problem language, making this process a little frustrating. If you think this might be the case, or just worried it could be, almost every computer maker publishes their beep code list in their user guides, which you can probably find online.

    See How to Find Tech Support Information if you need some help digging up your computer's manual online.

    Still can't figure out what the beep codes mean? See Get More Help for information about contacting me on social networks or via email, posting on tech support forums, and more.

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