How do you turn on a GoPro? On its face, it’s a pretty simple solution: push the power button.
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But I’ve run into situations where it’s not quite that simple, where the GoPro just won’t power on. No error message. No lights. Nothing.
While they’ve gotten better than they used to be, GoPros are somewhat notorious for locking up. I've had it happen to me on shoots a couple of hundreds of miles offshore and entirely off the grid. If you find yourself in that situation, me posting this on the internet isn't going to be much help to you. But if you’re still connected, hopefully this will give you some things to try to troubleshoot.
So what do you do if the GoPro won’t turn on? Here are some troubleshooting steps to try.
Check that the battery is charged
It sounds basic, but it's incredibly easy and quick to drain a GoPro's battery. GoPros are designed to turn the camera off just before the battery hits 0--the trigger point is usually around 5% charge or so. But it will also slowly drain with the camera off--it’ll drain more quickly if you have the wireless receiver turned on. I wish there was a battery status indicator that stayed on even when the camera is turned off, like many other cameras have, but none of the GoPros so far have that feature.
It's also worth trying to charge the battery. Connect a USB cable and make sure that the charging LED on the outside of the camera lights up. Sometimes it doesn't come on immediately, but it shouldn't take longer than a minute or two.
Remove the battery and reinsert the battery
On GoPro models that have a removable battery, take it out and put it back in. It's possible it wasn't inserted snugly or that some grit or grease is preventing the battery's contacts from, well, contacting. If you have a spare battery on hand, try that.
Check the SD card
Make sure it's inserted correctly. If you have another microSD card handy, try that.
Reset the camera
If nothing has worked so far, try resetting the camera. While I've found this to be the most effective step in solving most of the issues I've run into when a GoPro won't turn on, I'm not listing it first because it does add inconvenience in that you'll need to go through the settings again to set the camera up again how you want it.
There are a couple of different ways to reset the camera. Obviously, if the camera won't power up, the method using the camera's menu system isn't much good. But there's another option.
- Power the camera off. Remove any accessories you have interfacing the camera, such as external microphones, external batteries, or an LCD BacPac.
- Make sure there's a battery inserted or the camera is connected to an external power source via a USB cable.
- Press and hold the power button for 10 seconds and then release.
It's worth noting that this resets all of the camera's settings back to the factory default, but it doesn't wipe the SD card.
Contact GoPro support directly
If you’ve already tried all of these things higher in the list and the GoPro still won't turn on, the odds are increasing that there’s a fault that will require a repair or replacement. Hopefully it's still within warranty or you're covered under the replacement policy of GoPro's Plus subscription plan. You can find GoPro's support contacts here.