It was a moment of panic. As I eagerly pulled my Nintendo Switch out of its dock to try the new Mega Man 11 demo, I noticed that my console wouldn't turn on.
Maybe my dock is borked and my Switch ran out of juice, I thought. Surely, plugging in a USB-C cable and charging it up would do the trick, right? Nope — the system wouldn't even acknowledge that a charger was attached.
Fortunately, as I mentally prepared to ship my console to Nintendo (and lose all of my precious saves in the process), I found a fix that was so simple, I'm angry I didn't think to try it myself. On a Reddit thread about a similar issue to mine, user primevega suggested holding the power button down for 30 seconds, letting go and then pressing the button again for another few seconds until the system powered up.
I tried this myself, and voilà — my fully charged Switch powered back on.
I'm not sure exactly what caused my Switch to lock up. I hadn't used it for a week, though I'm pretty sure I've gone longer stretches without touching it. For what it's worth, other Reddit users did cite inactivity as the possible cause of the problem. So, if you want to play it extra safe, it might be best to fire up your Switch every few days to browse the eShop or knock out a few shrines in Breath of the Wild.
What if the power-button trick doesn't work?
While I came out of my Switch power issue relatively unscathed, other owners may not be as lucky.
If the power button trick doesn't work, you can try this recommended fix from Nintendo, which involves undocking the console with the Joy-Cons attached and resetting the AC adapter by leaving it completely unplugged for at least 30 seconds. After that, you should plug the AC adapter directly into a wall outlet and connect it to your Switch.
If that doesn't work, Nintendo recommends holding down the power button for 12 seconds to force a shutdown and then turning it back on again. Still nothing? Try using your Switch in docked mode.
If none of these fixes work, you'll most likely have to send your Switch in for repair. You can start a repair request on Nintendo's website, where you'll need to provide your system's serial number, the details of your issue and your shipping information.
Note that the Switch comes with a one-year hardware warranty, so you may have to pay if your warranty is up. Also keep in mind that, while Nintendo claims to do its best to retain your save data during repairs, there's a chance it might get lost in the process.