Q: In a recent column (Geek Note: I.G.T.M. No. 575, July 29, 2018) you replied to a question concerning leaving a computer on 24/7. I have done this for many years without a problem, but recently when I return to wake up my system (as the monitor goes to sleep after a period of time) the system will not boot up. I can hear my Dell Vostro start but get I get a message on the monitor (Not Supported). The only way I have found to start up the system is to unplug the computer. Note: Cntl/Alt/Delete does not bring up the system menu. So, I have to shut down the system once it's finished with its tasks and turn off the monitor. It's aggravating to say the least. I would like to go back to leaving the system on 24/7. Wondering if there is a fix.

– Jim W., Niceville

A: Before I try to tackle the technical aspects of this problem, Jim, I feel compelled to clear up what I perceive is a terminology problem. Either you’re mistaken about what “booting up” means, or you’re contradicting yourself in your question. You said “the system will not boot up” but you also said “I can hear my Dell Vostro start.” You also used the terms “to start up system” and “bring up system.” I just want to be sure we’re clear. “Booting” a system means bringing it up from a fully powered-off state to operationally ready. Perhaps others would argue the fine-line of the definition, but in the interest of accuracy, I don’t believe that bringing a computer out of Sleep Mode would rightly be called “booting it” since Sleep Mode is nothing more than a low-power state. The computer remains booted-up while it sleeps, but certain hardware and software features are disabled to conserve power.

From what I can tell based on your description, your computer is booting just fine. It’s even waking from sleep just fine. The problem appears to be that your monitor is not able to synchronize with the system when it returns from sleep. The message “Not Supported” on a monitor is an indication that the monitor hardware is not capable of decoding and/or displaying the video signal that is coming from the computer. This should only happen when you’re adjusting video modes in Windows, which does not include the computer waking up from going to sleep. To put it another way, if the monitor supported the video when the computer went to sleep, all things being equal, it should still support it when the computer wakes up again.

So therein lies the problem. Your computer is booted, and is probably fully functional, but your monitor is not displaying anything, so to you it appears that it “won’t boot up.” Before doing anything else, you should double-check all of the cables on your computer – especially the one between the PC and monitor – to be sure they’re all tightly inserted into their respective plugs. If you find no cabling issues, I suppose the next thing that I would try is that when this happens, power the monitor off and back on again. It’s possible that the monitor simply isn’t re-syncing when the computer wakes up, and just needs a little nudge.

One way you can solve this problem is to not allow the video display to sleep at all. To configure this, click the Windows 10 Start button, and enter “Power and sleep” into the search box. Select it from the list of search results. In the dialog that appears, right in the center under “Power & sleep” you’ll see “Screen” and a drop-down list labeled “When plugged in, turn off after.” Drop down the list and select “Never.” Now your monitor should remain active when your computer sleeps, so any resync problems it was having won’t happen anymore.

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