Computer troubleshooting doesn’t always have to be a vague mystery. In many cases, your computer will let you know about hardware issues and even an impending crash through beep codes. These Morse code-like sounding beeps are your keys to understanding problems with your motherboard, RAM, hard drive and more. Once you know what they mean, you’ll have a solid starting point for troubleshooting and fixing your computer.
What Are Beep Codes?
When your computer first starts, it goes through the POST (Power On Self Test) before starting the operating system to check that all hardware and system requirements are working properly. Older systems usually beeped once if the system passed the test. Newer systems will either beep once or not at all. If your computer doesn’t pass POST, you’ll hear a series of beeps which vary based on your BIOS (Basic Input Output System) manufacturer.
The BIOS is vital to starting all the necessary hardware and your operating system when your computer first boots. Since the BIOS is software installed on the motherboard, the beep codes are based around your BIOS or motherboard manufacturer. Each manufacturer has their own system of codes that let you know what hardware isn’t working correctly.
Troubleshooting Beep Codes
The hardest part about using beep codes is finding out what they mean. Your first step is to discover what BIOS you have. You can do this one of two ways:
- Watch your screen as your computer first boots. You’ll see the BIOS name and version on the loading screen, but it only lasts a split second on most systems.
- Run Belarc Advisor which lists detailed information about your computer.
If you’d rather not try to catch the name on the fly, download and install Belarc Advisor  for free. You don’t need to do anything except follow the guided prompts to install. Once installed, Belarc Advisor will run a scan of your system to gather details about your hardware and software. Wait for the profile to generate.
When the profile is complete, a new tab will open in your browser. You do not need Internet access to generate a new Belarc profile. On the right column, you’ll see System Model and Main Circuit Board. All the details you need to research beep codes are in these two sections.
If your BIOS is AMI, Award, IBM or Phoenix, check your beep code against this list . If you have a different BIOS listed, such as the one in the image above, you’ll need to visit your computer manufacturer’s site or perform a search in your favorite search engine for the following – computer system beep codes. Replace computer system with the first line under System Model from your Belarc profile. From the above profile, you’d enter Acer Aspire 5741 beep codes in the search box.
Alternately, search for your computer brand. In the above example, you could search for Acer beep codes instead. Many manufacturers, such as Dell and HP, have beep codes listed if you search the support section for the term beep code.
What To Listen For
Beep codes can be short, long or a mix. Some will repeat continuously and not stop until you turn off your computer. Others may only run once before starting the computer. Listen carefully for a pattern and count each beep. Write down the pattern so you know what to look for. If your computer won’t start, you will need access to another computer, tablet or smartphone.