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Old 2015-06-20, 02:45   #1
wombatman
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Default Vista Black Screen of Death

Hopefully this is an appropriate forum for this question:

I'm trying to fix up a laptop for a friend of my wife. I've already pulled the data off, but I'd like to understand the cause of the problem and make an attempt at fixing it.

The laptop runs Vista 64-bit. When I first got it, it would boot up, get to the loading screen, and then blue-screen. I forget the exact error now, but I was able to fix it by running System Repair from my Windows 7 installation disc. Now, however, when it boots up, it goes past the loading screen, and where you would expect the login screen, it's just black. I can see the cursor, I can move the cursor, but nothing else is happening. Ctrl-alt-del does nothing. Ctrl-shift-escape does nothing. Windows key + break does nothing.

The Black Screen of Death is apparently very well-known based on my searches, but none of the suggested solutions work.

To summarize what I know so far:

1) The computer's display itself is working fine.
2) Booting into safe mode results in the same issue--black screen with a cursor and no other apparent response.
3) Boot-logging shows no obvious errors. Drivers appear to load without error, including vga.sys.
4) Booting in low resolution mode gives black screen + cursor. Same for Last Known Good Configuration.
5) System Repair finds no issues at all.
6) Trying to run sfc /scannow throws an exception.

I welcome any suggestions at all, and I am happy to re-run anything I've already mentioned doing, just in case I didn't do it properly.
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Old 2015-06-20, 02:56   #2
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Probably the HDD is munged. Software like spinrite might be able to make it usable again. Although it is usual that once the HDD has begun its slide into the abyss there is little point in attempting to put it into active service again. Just recover what you need from it and get a new one.

Last fiddled with by retina on 2015-06-20 at 02:57
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Old 2015-06-20, 03:16   #3
wombatman
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Would chkdsk pick up on that? It runs without finding any errors either.
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Old 2015-06-20, 03:21   #4
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The default chkdsk run options won't scan the file data, only the metadata. And it isn't aware of any problems in the underlying disk surface or "SMART" data.
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Old 2015-06-20, 12:00   #5
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Something similar happened to my wife's computer, twice. Despite the fact that I had BitDefender on it, it was a virus.
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Old 2015-06-20, 17:17   #6
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I just ran Bitdefender's offline version (from a CD), and it did find one Java-based exploit. But even after cleaning that, it's coming up to the black screen with cursor. I've found a few other suggestions, so hopefully something will work.
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Old 2015-06-20, 17:29   #7
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You might find this guide helpful. The sequence it follows is important. It also lists quite a few useful programs.
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Old 2015-06-20, 21:34   #8
wombatman
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Thanks for the guide. The main problem right now is that I never make it into Windows, even under Safe Mode. I should be able to run some of these from the Windows 7 CD command line, though. Maybe that will find something hiding out.
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Old 2015-06-20, 21:56   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wombatman View Post
Thanks for the guide. The main problem right now is that I never make it into Windows, even under Safe Mode. I should be able to run some of these from the Windows 7 CD command line, though. Maybe that will find something hiding out.
Have you considered scrubbing it dry, and installing a modern version of Linux? I shudder to suggest it, but perhaps a Ubuntu installation?

At least then you've have an indication (but not proof) if the hardware is bad, or the OS, if it boots to a UI.
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Old 2015-06-20, 23:36   #10
wombatman
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If it was mine, I would, but this laptop belongs to a friend of my wife, so I can't do it. I free pretty sure the hardware is fine. The memory checks out.

I guess I could install a dual-boot installation of Linux just to make sure everything works. Then remove it after checking.
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Old 2015-06-20, 23:50   #11
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Interesting that CTRL ALT DEL does nothing.

Try Windows + R. If that works, run explorer.
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