Nov 8, 2011

Mysterious Black Screen of Death in Windows 7

I had an interesting issue pop up the other day that I hadn't seen before. When I researched it online it was being dubbed the Black Screen of Death. Kind of like the Blue Screen of death, but different. As you probably know, a Blue Screen of Death is basically when Windows goes into panic mode and shuts down usually due to hardware or driver issues, but not always. Well the Black Screen of Death is different.

When you get a Black Screen of Death, Windows appears to still be running, just everything is black. When you boot up your computer, you will see the Windows splash screen, then the screen will go black and you may see a mouse for a few minutes, but the login screen never comes up. Just dark emptiness, like the heart of a cruel ex-girlfriend... I digress...

Anyway, when looking online I saw several options to try. Option number one was to boot the computer into low resolution mode. That seemed to help users who had problems with their video drivers. That didn't work for me. Another option was to boot to last known good configuration. Nope. Another was to do a system restore. That didn't work either.

I was finally able to get the user's computer going again with the help of the Windows installation DVD, and the built in repair tools it has. When I say that, I mean the ability to drop to a command prompt. I booted up to the DVD, went through the repair options, then opened a command prompt. The DVD mounted the hard drive as drive D: so I ran Checkdisk with the repair switch like thus:

chkdsk d: /r


It friggin’ took all damned day, and found several errors, but when it was finished and I rebooted, Windows came up like usual. After that I did the usual maintenance on her computer with defrag, malware cleanup and registry cleaning.

Ever see a Black Screen of Death? How did you fix it? Did you do something different that worked? Let me know in the comments.

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