* I have a working room with a common power switch for all the room. Every time I leave the room I switch the power off.
* In this room I have a Fujitsu Siemens computer running Windows XP.

When I switch the power on from the main switch, the computer starts, runs for 1-2 seconds, then it shuts down. After I push the computer's power button, it works normally, no more shuting down. I would guess the problem is the power supply. After about 1 year of these power on/off, the HDD collapsed.

More Info:
* This glitch I saw on Dell and Fujitsu Siemens computers. ALL the computers I had of this brand had the same problem.
* Other brands (or piece by piece asembly computers of various brands) in the same room never had this problem.
* Resetting the BIOS didn't solved it.

Any suggestions?

Later Edit:

I must add extra info as it appear that I didn't explained very well my problem. I had several computers (around 10 and not all of them were mine) of these two brands (OS installation or hardware fixing) and ALL of them had the same problems. At this moment I think the issue might be explained as Nick2253 suggested. Something like WOL or to power for various components. I will try to see if these settings can be changed by any motherboard jumpers or BIOS setup. Plugging these computer in other sockets in other locations (friends houses) behaved the same.

Extra info about the setup:
* the computers don't have any PSU
* all the other equipments are working perfectly
* the power line is stable, no fluctuations, no powerloss

  • What's the problem actually? The fact that it starts for only 2 seconds or that it starts at all? In other words, do you want it to power on just like if you'd press power button, or do you want it to stay off?
    – gronostaj
    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:18
  • "The fact that it starts for only 2 seconds" and then shuts down. This is a destructive behaviour for HDD. Sometimes there is data loss because of it. The HDD dies before its time. Jul 16, 2014 at 12:29
  • What you describe is EXTREMLY tough on electronic equipment like computers. I suggest you stop doing this and/or wire at least one plug that won't be switched off. There exists products to preven vampire power I suggest using that.
    – Ramhound
    Jul 16, 2014 at 12:33
  • The working room doesn't belong to me, and I must power it down. Jul 16, 2014 at 12:36
  • Computers are not designed to have their power regularly yanked. You should shutdown Windows and turn off the computer before leaving the room. Windows and NTFS are in fact not totally resilient to power-down at the wrong moment, nor is the hardware (although they are in theory). Some computer models may resist less-well your procedure of power-down, which is really asking for trouble.
    – harrymc
    Oct 22, 2014 at 11:01

4 Answers 4


This is actually completely normal behavior for many brands and motherboards.

When you restore power, the computer doesn't "start up". What happens is that the motherboard wakes up, runs some basic tests and checks, and then goes to sleep. The hard drives don't spin up, nothing boots, but it looks like the computer is "starting" for just a few seconds.

This behavior allows motherboards to perform WOL, wake from mouse/keyboard input, or wake based on the last power state.

If you want specific evidence, every single Dell computer we've purchased for the last 3 years (and I'm talking thousands) across at least five different models, has exhibited this behavior. Also, the last three motherboards I've used for custom PCs (all from Asus) have shown this behavior as well.

The death of your hard drive probably has nothing to do with this behavior.

  • 1
    Could you add some relevant references. Oct 23, 2014 at 0:01
  • I don't have anything specific. When we first got a machine that did that, I contacted Dell, and our support tech assured me it was normal. Sure enough, every computer since then has exhibited the same behavior. I just assumed it was a new normal since then.
    – Nick2253
    Oct 23, 2014 at 0:13
  • I agree with @Nick2253 This is normal behavior for Dell desktops/workstations/servers (yrs of experience with the dell brand). Your hd failing was probably due to you turning it off from the common switch.
    – Logman
    Oct 23, 2014 at 15:12
  • I will try to see if these settings can be changed by any motherboard jumpers or BIOS setup and I will get back to you. I have also edited my question. Oct 24, 2014 at 8:38

I want to start this off by saying,"You should always shut down a computer via the operating system or hardware shutdown process." Never just kill a computer by cutting the power.

What you describe as one switch to power everything is not only risky to the computer, But not healthy for your electrical system. I would like to know if everything is ran by one outlet that is controlled by that switch. You state that it turning on for a few seconds is destructive to the HDD. That depends if it powers on for a few seconds then turns off chances are that the HDD never started to load the OS, the only thing that loads after 3 seconds is the BIOS. The fact that you are killing the power to the computer via the switch is destructive to the power supply.

I would suggest that you pick up a cheap or used power supply.(one with a manual switch) Make sure to completely shut down windows before killing the power. Manually kill the Power Supply Unit (PSU) switch to off. Then kill the main power switch.

To power it back up

Flip the power switch on the wall to on. Flip the PSU switch to the on position. Hit the power button and start the computer.

You will kill the PSU doing what you currently describe. I would be less worried about the Hard Drive. (If you have sensitive or important data, Use a drive clone program like ghost or DriveSnapshot to back up the drive. )

I also feel more descriptive information is needed. Could you please provide the computer model and numbers? Checking if this is common to that specific model may help you out as well.

  • 1
    I think the OP meant to say that the system loses power the first time he switches it on, and he has to press power to start it again, at which point it works normally. Oct 22, 2014 at 23:58
  • yea I realized that after so I just directed this to anyone else. Rule 1 never ever kill power to a system currently on. I think more info is required about what setup he has running. I am guessing that if everything is on one switch that he may be overloading a circuit or close to it. and with that much power, over time, flowing at once has probably done something to the PSU. (Assuming the BIOS reset was done correctly and all BIOS options were checked. I have seen older BIOS systems with power options set to come on when power is supplied to the system.)
    – trenten
    Oct 23, 2014 at 1:25
  • Adding this for others. I have repaired several computers over 50 that have all been PSU problems. They always occur when the power is turned off and back on.
    – trenten
    Oct 23, 2014 at 1:32

If you have a dedicated PSU on/off switch. keep that off until you have fully turned the mains power on. The sequence is as follows:

1) Turn on your wall/mains.

2) Turn on your PC PSU.

3) Press power button.

This should help you.


If you go to the more developing side of the world i.e. places like SE Asia and even Indian subcontinent, power cut is a very much common issue even now. What people do there is:

1) Buy a UPS box.

2) connect computer PSU with UPS. UPS protects any momentary surge/spikes and holds the power steady for a few seconds (i.e. confirms if this is the right state).

3) UPS is connected to the mains wall supply. This is how when the power cut occurs, backup battery gives you 15 minutes of uniterrupted power supply (hence UPS name) so that you can shut down and save your work.

Although you have a different problem, but the mechanism should work and help you identify the problem source more efficiently. You might also want to check if any of your other mains wall socket do the same thing - just another debug method :)

  • Completely agree with this one. You cannot tell for sure if ther is an issue with your mains or with the wires running from wall switch to PSU. Introduce one more switch in between the two. Oct 23, 2014 at 12:57

In the comments you remark that you did shutdown the computer first, even with that in mind, let me get the following out of the way: If you don't shutdown your computer first, this behavior would have to be expected. If you turn off power for the room while the PC is still running, you create an event that the computer sees as a power failure. For home computers, what happens on a power failure is not well defined, and what you describe is one of the possible outcomes.

The harddisk failure should be unrelated to automatic start ups, because 2 seconds is not enough to get to the point where the hard disks spin up. A power failure while the PC is running, on the other hand, would increase the chance of a hard disk failure. But we shouldn't read too much into this - even properly treated hard disks still die all the time.

A correctly working Dell or Siemens Computer that has been shut down, and then plugged out, will not turn on by itself when plugged in again. But the motherboard could perform setup to enter a low power state that is necessary to enable WoL, WoUSB, and a few other things - and that may look the same as if it's turning itself on. You can try to ask the manufacturer is this behavior is expected, and it may be possible to disable the behavior in the BIOS in the same region where you define what happens after a power failure.

A likely reason for your issue is that you think you did shut down the computers but didn't. Shut down can take a long time, depending on the software and drivers that are installed. Also, if you send computers to Sleep instead of a real Shutdown, turning off power will also be interpreted as power failure.

Another possible cause of the behavior you describe is a hardware failure, but given that you observed the same issue on multiple PCs from 2 different brands, this seems extremely unlikely. Unless the hardware failure is with your installation.

And there's the good old question: "do you know what the cleaning crew is doing while you're gone?"


  1. Make sure you can reproduce the issue reliably (every single time).

  2. Try to reproduce the issue by removing the power cable of the computer instead of turning off the power for the room,

    2.1 If you cannot reproduce the issue this way, eliminate the time factor. Make sure the timing when unplugging and plugging the cable is the same as when turning on/off power for the room. If you still can't reproduce the issue, the problem is the wiring in the room, or with another device that's plugged in. Unplug everything in the room other than the PC, and then try again with the mains - if the problem still exists you need an electrician.

    2.2 If you can reproduce the issue this way, on multiple computers, make sure you are really shutting down the computers, not making them sleep or restarting them after shutting them down (e.g. by pushing some button accidentally when moving your chair), or anything else. If the computers are properly shut down and the issue still occurs it is probably by design and you should contact the manufacturer for confirmation.

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