QUESTION I'm unable to get sound from my Windows 7 HP laptop. I've checked everything I can think of and have now run out of ideas. Bill Stevenson

HELPROOM ANSWER The loss of sound could be due to a number of things, Bill. Here's a troubleshooting checklist for you to try.

Click Start, type system volume in the Search box and press Enter. In the System Volume dialog box that pops up, check that the volume is turned up and not muted.

Ensure the correct sound device is selected. Some computers have more than one sound card, particularly if the graphics chip offers integrated audio.

Click Start, type sound in the Search box and press Enter. In the dialog that pops up choose Sound, then check your speakers are set as the default and aren't disabled.

Check the status of the sound device. Click Start, type device manager in the Search box and press Enter. Expand 'Sound, video and game controllers' in Device Manager and find your sound card. If no red crosses are displayed against its name, the card is fitted and working correctly.

Remember to check the laptop itself for a manual volume control. This might be a wheel or a button. Ensure these are set correctly. Look for a mute button, too.

Next, check that sound isn't disabled in the Bios. To enter the Bios, reboot the laptop and press F2 before the Windows login screen appears. All systems are different, but sound settings should be easy to find.

If you're still without sound, try updating your drivers and Bios. Since yours is an HP laptop, head to HP's website and search for the drivers and downloads for your specific model.

If none of these solutions fix your problem, you could arrange for the manufacturer to repair the laptop under warranty; if this has expired, take it to a local computer shop. However, if one of the components has broken, rather than a bad setting being responsible for the loss of audio, your best bet is to pick up a USB sound card. These cost as little as £8 online.

See also: How to fix everything: the ultimate guide to fixing technology

Free tech support in the Helproom Forum