If your computer fails during the power-on-self-test (POST), the BIOS beep codes may be your only clue to finding the problem. But if you don't know what to listen for, you might as well be listening to the song of an African swallow. To make deciphering your computer's beeps a little easier, we compiled a list of common BIOS beep codes from AMI, Award, Phoenix, Dell, and we recently added HP and IBM to the list. Here's a brief explanation of what you’ll find in our BIOS beep codes list download.
An introduction to BIOS beep codes
When you power on your computer, the motherboard's basic input/output system (BIOS) first detects the computer's internal hardware configuration. It then performs the POST, which executes several diagnostic tests that check the basic functionality of the power supply, motherboard, CPU, I/O Bus Controller, RAM, keyboard, and video components. If the computer passes the POST, it will usually return a single, short beep or two short beeps, depending on the BIOS manufacture. If the POST detects any problems, it will halt the boot process and return an error message either visually on the screen and/or audibly through a series of beeps.
Unfortunately, there is no official standard for beep codes. Depending on the BIOS manufacturer, a keyboard controller failure could be three, four, five, or six beeps. While this document lists common BIOS manufacturer beep codes, you should always consult your motherboard's documentation, the manufacturer's Web site, and the BIOS manufacturer's Web site for a definitive beep code list for your particular BIOS. The information contained in this download was gathered from various BIOS manufacturers' Web sites.
AwardBIOS beep codes
Here's an example of how we've listed the beep codes in our download. Notice that we also included a link to the manufacturer's Web site.
|Number of beeps||Problem Description||Troubleshooting Recommendation|
|1 long & 2 short||Video error||Check the video card.|
|Any other beeps||RAM problem||Reseat the RAM or replace with known good chips.|
Major PC manufactures
For those major PC manufacturers that use a variety of motherboards and BIOS configurations, we've provided links to beep code pages for multiple PC models.
|Model||System codes and messages link|
|Kayak XA-S Series 02xx||http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bizsupport/TechSupport/Document.jsp?objectID=lpv18636|
Download our updated BIOS beep codes list
You can download our updated BIOS beep codes list by following this link or by clicking on the Downloads link in the navigation bar on the left of this page. TechRepublic has many useful documents, templates, and applications available for download, so be sure to check out our other offerings.
Our updated BIOS beep codes download is available both as a Microsoft Word document and an Adobe PDF file. To increase download speed, we have zipped these two files together into one file named Bios_beep_codes_list2.zip. You will need an unzip utility such as WinZip or PKZIP to expand the zipped file. You will also need either Microsoft Word or the Adobe Acrobat Reader to view each respective document. You can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader here.
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.