Get the fix for the error black screen that appears at startup on Windows Vista and Windows 7.

About “black screen that appears at startup

The following information on this error has been compiled by NeoSmart Technologies, based on the information gathered and reported by our global network of engineers, developers, and technicians or partner organizations.

Description and Symptoms

The error messages, alerts, warnings, and symptoms below are tied to this error.

Symptom 1: Black screen that appears on startup

Windows 7 can display a complete, blank black screen when you boot your computer. The causes can be multiple ones: a video adapter issue, some recent driver updates you may have done or new Windows updates.

This error appears regardless if your computer is a desktop PC or a laptop. Other users with HP laptops and computers with Windows 7 reported that this error occurred after a recent Windows update.

Causes of this Error

This error has been known to occur as a result of one of the following causes:

Cause 1: System files are damaged

The hard drive’s file system may become damaged because of disk write errors, power outages or virus attacks. If that’s the case, the operating system cannot find the required system files to boot properly and the loading process is halted.

Cause 2: An outdated driver is installed

Another possible cause of this error is an outdated driver. This may happen after a Windows upgrade/downgrade, or Windows Update that ended incorrectly.

Fixing “Black screen that appears at startup” on Windows

Windows Setup CD/DVD Required!
Some of the solutions below require the use of the Microsoft Windows setup CD or DVD. If your PC did not come with a Windows installation disc or if you no longer have your Windows setup media, you can use Easy Recovery Essentials for Windows instead. EasyRE will automatically find and fix many problems, and can also be used to solve this problem with the directions below.

Fix #1: Use Easy Recovery Essentials

Easy Recovery Essentials can fix many errors such as this automatically using its built-in Automated Repair option. EasyRE is currently available for Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 and can be downloaded and created on any PC.

  1. Download Easy Recovery Essentials. Make sure to note your Windows version (XP, Vista, 7 or 8) before you download EasyRE. This guide can help you identify what version of Windows you have installed.
  2. Burn the image. Follow these instructions on how to burn the bootable ISO image very carefully, as making a bootable CD can be tricky! Alternatively, these instructions explain how to create a bootable EasyRE recovery USB stick/drive.
  3. Boot up your PC from the Easy Recovery Essentials CD or USB you created.
  4. Once EasyRE is running, choose the “Automated Repair” option and click Continue.
    EasyRE Home

    Choose “Automated Repair” in Easy Recovery Essentials

  5. After EasyRE scans your computer’s drives, identify and select the drive letter for your Windows installation from the list, and then click on the Automated Repair button to begin.
    EasyRE displays a list of found Windows operating systems

    Choose the drive associated with the Windows installation you’re trying to repair.

  6. Easy Recovery Essentials will start analyzing the selected drive for problems. EasyRE will test for and attempt to automatically correct errors with the disk, partition, bootsector, filesystem, bootloader, and registry. No intervention is required, as EasyRE’s repair is fully automated:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Easy Recovery Essentials searches for errors and makes corrections to the selected Windows installation.

  7. Once the process is complete, EasyRE will report its findings. Click on the Restart button to reboot your PC and test the changes.
  8. The “black screen that appears at startup” error should now be fixed as your PC begins to load:
    EasyRE: Automated Repair

    Windows, booting up successfully.

You can download Easy Recovery Essentials from here.

Fix #2: Boot the PC in Safe Mode

You can boot into the Last Known Good Configuration to repair it.

Here are the steps to boot into the Last Known Good Configuration mode:

  1. Restart your computer
  2. Press F8 repeatedly until you see the list of boot options
  3. Choose Last Known Good Configuration (Advanced)
  4. Press Enter and wait to boot
Last known good configuration screen

Last known good configuration screen

Fix #3: Boot into Safe Mode and update Driver Software

Boot into Windows Safe Mode first by pressing F8 repeatedly after you restarted your computer. After you select “Safe Mode” from the Options menu, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Start Task Manager by right-clicking on the task bar
  2. Go to the Processes tab of this Manager
  3. Find and click on explorer.exe and click End Process to terminate it
  4. Then click on File and choose New Task (Run)
  5. Enter explorer.exe in the Open box and then click on the OK button
  6. Go to the Start Button and enter device manager
  7. Search results will appear, choose Device Manager
  8. At this step, double-click on Display adapter and then right click on your display device
  9. Click Update Driver Software
  10. Follow the steps in Drive Software Wizard
Device manager screen

Device manager screen

Fix #4: Access System Restore with a recovery disc

This solution method will only work if you have System Restore enabled on your Windows 7. Here are the steps for accessing System Restore from an installation disc:

  1. Insert the Windows 7 install disc
  2. Press a key when “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD” message appears on your screen
  3. Click on Repair your computer after selecting a language, time and keyboard method
  4. Select the drive where you installed Windows (usually C:\) and click Next
  5. Select System Restore from the System Recovery Options box
  6. Follow System Restore instructions to select a restore point
  7. Restore your PC by clicking Finish
System Restore screen

System Restore screen

Fix #5: Run Startup Repair

  1. Insert your Windows install CD
  2. Press any key when you see “Press any key to boot from CD or DVD”
  3. Click Repair your computer after selecting your language, time and keyboard method
  4. Select the drive of your Windows installation and click Next. The standard drive is usually C:\
  5. Select Startup Repair and wait for the process to finish.

More Information

Linked Entries

Support Links

Applicable Systems

This Windows-related knowledgebase article applies to the following operating systems:

  • Windows Vista (all editions)
  • Windows 7 (all editions)

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