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Computer has a black screen and will not boot or start up

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Computer has a black screen and will not boot or start up

Rarely do I come across a problem with a computer that I cannot diagnose, however getting a black screen on boot can stump me sometimes. I always try to trouble shoot the problem manually, without using those fancy programs, because I believe it is the only way to learn.

There are two types of black screens that can appear. One that will have a beep sequence sounding to let you know what the problem could be, and the other has nothing at all. No beeps, no cursor, no logo screen, and no choice to boot to safe mode or access the bios.

If you get a beep sequence, I am not saying it is good news, however it is a step in the right direction towards solving this problem. This is a message from your computer that can be understood by looking up your bios (the brand) beep code. For example you may have an Award Bios, Ami Bios, Phoenix BIOS, compaq, Dell, or Acer Bios. This list goes on and on. You can search for Bios beep codes in google. Here is an example of results in google search Search results for “bios beep codes”

If you heard a single beep, then the computer posted, and the CPU is ok. POST= Power On Self Test A procedure the computer goes through on starting to ensure all is well.

When you get the black screen, and absolutely nothing else, this is where the challenge begins. Sometimes the fans and the cpu seems to be running.

When this happens to me, I have an instant advantage as I have a replacement part for basically any computer component at my fingertips.

Common things that can happen when your computer has a black screen:

  • At boot up, it sound like it is booting as the cpu fan is running and the lights are on. It also finds the cd rom but it won’t boot from a cd either.
  • Sometimes it will boot to a black screen and the power switch light will be green and then turns to orange or amber. Everything is running.
  • Everything seems to be running but you can’t see anything on the screen, not even a flashing cursor.

Some common causes for a computer to have a black screen at bootup:

Where is your Monitor plugged in?

The first and most obvious reason for a computer appearing to run but you cannot see the video is the monitor. A common mistake is to plug the monitor into the onboard video plug when you actually have a PCI or AGP video card installed. Trust me I have done this myself. Simply move the plug to the correct position.

Failing Display adapter or video card can cause a black screen:

Most of the time you can tell if your computer video card is deteriorating by seeing little tell tale signs. Lines appearing or flashing can sometimes occur, however sometimes nothing happens at all. You might turn your computer on and have the dreaded black screen. You can try removing your video card and using onboard video, or replacing the video card to see if that is the problem.

The next reason is RAM…or memory: This can cause a black screen on your computer.

If your memory is not seated properly (not in), is damaged, or even absent altogether, this can cause major problems.

  1. If you have no memory installed at all, some computers make no sounds and just show a black screen. Other computers go crazy and beep their head off. I am an expert at this one, as I build so my computers.
  2. When your computer gets a black screen only sometimes, it usually means your ram is on the way out..For example if you boot your computer and it doesn’t work, then go back an hour later, and it does work, your memory is playing up. You can try taking the ram out, gently cleaning it with an antistatic cloth, and replacing it. This may solve your problem. If it does not, then you should try running your computer with another compatible stick of ram installed.
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