Just a blank black screen after the "Starting Windows" and logo animation


Jul 27, 2012
Hi, I've had an OEM version of windows 7 for a couple years now, but now whenever I boot up, the screen shows "Starting Windows" with the logo animation above it then goes blank. There is no cursor, and my keyboard doesn't work (num lock doesn't toggle). If I hard reboot or use my reset button (only after I get stuck on the black screen) the screen skips to the "Windows Error Recovery" screen, where I can launch startup repair or start windows normally. My keyboard DOES work while in this mode, including the num lock toggle. Starting normally shows the blank screen again, while the system recovery option opens the recovery manager. I can boot just fine using safe mode (pressing f8), but don't really know what I can do from that "Advanced Boot Options" menu or when actually in safe mode. I read somewhere that I should look at the startup processes, but I don't know how to go about doing that or what to do after.

Extra info if you want to read:
- Sometimes after the blank screen stays for a little while, the computer will soft reboot by itself and cut to the windows error recovery again.
-In recovery manager, both my keyboard and cursor work, and I can either do a "microsoft system restore", "system recovery", or "file backup program". System recovery wipes everything so I want to avoid that, but I tried the microsoft system restore (to a date prior to the problem) and it didn't work. I get this: "System restore did not complete successfully. Your computers system files and settings were not changed. An unspecified error occurred during system restore. (0x8000ffff)". However, upon going into safe mode, it says the system restore has completed successfully, but the boot up problem continues.
- I hadn't done anything different with the computer except playing a DVD (first time ever using the disc drive though) for the couple days before the problem started. Could the program I use to read DVD's be the problem?
- I knocked a capacitor loose on my mobo 6 months back but it had no effect on anything except for one video game, but I pushed it back into place and everything ran fine.
- I changed out the video card (Radeon HD 6870) and PSU early on (from the stock HP build).
- I really don't have anything important on this computer, but I'd like to save as much as I can if possible. If a full system recovery wipe would fix it, I'd do it, but if it won't fix the problem, I don't want to lose all my data for nothing.

I have no idea if this is a hardware or software problem, but I'm open to anything and I'll try to answer any questions.

Any help would be greatly appreciated!

- Aaron

Phillip Corcoran

You should always be keeping backups of your data anyway, whether your computer is misbehaving or not.
For one thing, it means you have the option of using Factory Recovery without losing any files, instead of being forced in to a position where you need to avoid using it.

If safe mode Windows runs okay, it's not a hardware issue.

The purpose of Safe Mode Windows is that in the event that a bad or conflicting third-party driver or some incompatible software that you just installed is preventing Windows from starting normally, you can boot in to safe mode and uninstall the offending driver or application.

So think hard about what you've very recently installed just before the problem started. It might be a driver or some software that installs a driver, such as a third-party firewall, antivirus software, or a CD/DVD utility.

If you back up your files first using safe mode, you can instead run Factory Restore if above is unsuccessful.
It's software... probably a corrupted user profile.
1. If you have another use account use it to logon,
2. or logon with the Administrator account,
3. in safe mode, whichever is available...
4. Restore the corrupted user profile

1) Use this account as your new user account, or from it create a new user account to replace the previous. Next move your user files to it, and when done, delete the corrupted user account.
2) From the Administrator account, create a new account and do the same as in 1
3) In Safe Mode, create a new user account and do the same as in 1
4) From a second user account, from the administrator account or from Safe Mode you can try restoring the corrupted user account by replacing the (hidden files) NTUSER.DAT with the NTUSER.BAK file which as the file extension suggests it's a backup of the user account registry data, and depending on the NTUSER.BAK date and it's convenience (if previous or posterior to the issue date), you can restore the damaged account to that date from another account.

To start: locate NTUSER.DAT in the usual user account profile folder, and rename it to NTUSER.DAT.OLD, and next rename NTUSER.BAK to NTUSER.DAT... next restart the computer and see if you can logon with the usual user account.


Jul 27, 2012

Hi Phillip,

I switched out my video card with my old stock one and my computer booted up just fine. I'm guessing there is something wrong with a driver on my video card.

Prior to changing out the card though, I went into the msconfig and disabled all startups and services, but still got the blank screen when booting normally. That included my video card though, so I'm confused as to what's wrong.

I went into device manager after putting my original card back in and tried to roll back the driver (from a 2013 one to a 2012 one), which didnt do anything. Then I just disabled the device completely, and I could boot up normally. I then tried re-enabling the card, but was asked to restart before the changes would take place. Then my problem persists.

Is this still a software problem? Could it be hardware?

Thanks again,

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