268w ago - Many users live with boot problems or re-install Windows and start again, but there is a better way. If you learn what happens during the boot process then you'll be able to diagnose and fix any issues that might arise.
The boot starts with your PC's BIOS, which grabs its settings from CMOS RAM before initialising your video adaptor and any expansion cards. A Power On Self Test does basic hardware checks, tests your RAM if required and usually delivers a single beep to indicate that everything is working.
If there's a problem at this point then the BIOS will display an error message or issue a number of beeps; check your motherboard manual to figure out what they might mean. If it's accessible, launch your BIOS setup program to confirm that no settings have been changed. If they have, this could mean that your motherboard's CMOS battery has failed, in which case you'll need a replacement.
If you've installed an expansion card recently, try it in a different slot. Other new devices should be removed altogether to see if they are causing a problem. You can also check the support section of your motherboard or your PC manufacturer's site for more advice.
These hardware problems are relatively uncommon, though. It's likely that this first boot stage...