Why is My Computer Beeping?

You switched on your computer one morning and beep, beep, beep- beep- beep. Everyone who has owned a PC has at some point in their lives encountered the dreaded beeps. It is scary and annoying at the same time. Scary because you know something on your computer is busted, annoying because you don’t know exactly what it is and the beeps really aren’t helping.

Actually, the beeps are trying to help you. The beeps are designed to tell you where the problem lies in the only way the computer can in that situation – through sound. This makes sense as the sound comes from the motherboard speaker and being built-into the motherboard means that drivers are not necessary. Deciphering them is easy if you know the code. Here are the codes for Phoenix BIOS based motherboards. Phoenix uses three sets of beeps with pauses between them and each set can be comprised of one or four beeps.

4/2/2 – Keyboard error. This means that the keyboard is not connected properly or that the motherboard has difficulty detecting the presence of a keyboard.
3/3/4 – Display error. The motherboard cannot detect the video card.
1/4/2 – Memory error. One or more of the RAM chips are damaged or improperly installed.
1/2/2 – Motherboard error. This probably the worst, as it means that the motherboard has developed a critical fault.
1/1/3 – CMOS error. This indicates that the computer is unable to read the CMOS configuration. This may require a motherboard replacement.

Although the beeps don’t give you a definite identification of the problem, they do point you in the right direction. Even if you can’t fix the problem by yourself, knowing the beep codes can help you avoid being fleeced at the repair shop.