How to Fix: Windows 10 Black Screen Before Login

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Hillary K. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

My main PC recently upgraded to Windows 10 1909 (November 2019 edition) and now it immediately boots into a black screen. I can move the mouse around, but I can't login because I have a black screen. I've tried CTRL + ALT + DEL on the keyboard to bring up Task Manager per Microsoft's website, but it doesn't work. I've also tried Windows Key + P to refresh my display but it doesn't work. I can see the hard drive light blinking, meaning that there is activity and the system appears to be loading and doing things, but that's it. All I get is the black screen of death before login. There is no way for me to enter into Safe Mode since the F8 key during startup is no longer part of Windows 10. I am at a complete loss and fear having to reinstall Windows. Can you please help! Thankfully I have another laptop here that you can connect to in order to guide me. "

My response:

I asked if Hillary would like me to connect to her laptop in order to try and correct the issue on the PC using my remote desktop support service, and she agreed.

Below I will discuss my findings.

How to Fix: Windows 10 Black Screen Before Login

The black screen of death - as this problem is also affectionately known as - appears to be wide-spread issue especially after a major update to Windows 10, beginning with branch 1809, 1903, and now 1909. Users experiencing this issue see a black screen before login (with or without a mouse pointer active).

To fix the Windows 10 black screen before login, you will need to:

  1. Enable Safe Mode (via Recovery Environment)
  2. Uninstall and Reinstall Your Graphics Driver, and optionally,
  3. Disable Fast Boot

The last option (disable fast boot) is what fixed Hillary's problem. I'll explain this in more detail below.

1. Enable Safe Mode (via Recovery Environment)

In previous editions of Windows, one could press F8 repeatedly during boot to access Safe Mode in order to further diagnose an issue such as the black screen of death, however the F8 option has been removed from Windows 10.

There is a way to access what is now called the "Recovery Environment", which will then allow you to access to either Safe Mode or a Windows command line.

To do so:

  1. Power on the machine.
     
  2. As soon as you see the blue Windows logo appear (the 4 blue squares in the middle of the screen), press and hold the power button on the PC for 5 to 10 seconds. This will forcefully shut it off. Timing is critical here, so press and hold the power button as soon as the Windows logo appears.
     
  3. Repeat Steps #1 and #2 three times. On the third time, your machine will boot into the Recovery Environment. Proceed to the next step.
     
  4. You should now see a screen entitled "Automatic Repair". Choose the "Advanced options" button.
     
  5. On the following page, click "Troubleshoot". On the proceeding page, click "Advanced options", then "Startup Settings", then click "Restart." If you don't see "Startup Settings", click the option that says "See More Recovery Options" - it should be listed there.
     
  6. Your PC will reboot and show you a "Startup Settings" blue screen. Press 5 or F5 on the keyboard to boot the machine into Safe Mode with Networking.

Proceed to Uninstall and Reinstall Your Graphics Driver, described next.

2. Uninstall and Reinstall Your Graphics Driver

At this point your machine should boot into Safe Mode and you should see the desktop.

If you still have a black screen at login, continue on to the section labeled 3. Disable Fast Boot, Option (C) further down.

Based on my experience with the black screen of death issue, uninstalling and reinstalling the graphics driver usually fixes the problem.

To do so:

  1. Click Start, then type in "This PC" (no quotes); wait for "This PC" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Properties".
     
  2. The "System" window will appear. Click "Device Manager" from the top left. Once the "Device Manager" window appears, scroll down to the "Display Adapters" and click the arrow button to expand the menu.
     
  3. Your display adapter should be listed. Left click to select the adapter, then press DEL on the keyboard to delete the adapter. Windows 10 will ask if you want to uninstall the graphics driver. Select "Yes".
     
  4. You can now attempt to reboot the machine to see if that fixed your problem. If so, your graphics driver will reinstall itself after Windows 10 loads successfully.

If Windows 10 boots into a black screen still, you will need to disable Fast Boot - described next.

3. Disable Fast Boot

Based on my experience disabling Fast Boot will also fix the black screen of death. In fact, this is what fixed Hillary's problem.

There are three ways to deal with this:

Option (A): boot back into Safe Mode with Networking and access this page from the Internet

To disable Fast Boot inside of the Windows environment, you must input commands into an administrative command prompt. These commands are fairly long to type in; as such, it is best if you can copy and paste the commands using your mouse. This is only possibly if you can boot the problematic machine into Safe Mode with Networking and you have Internet and you can access this page.

Assuming this is the case, do the following:

  1. Click Start, then type in "cmd" (no quotes); wait for "CMD.EXE" or "Command Prompt" to appear in the list, then right click it and select "Run as Administrator".
     
  2. Highlight the below text with your mouse, then right click over the highlighted text and select "Copy" from the dialogue menu to place it into your clipboard.

    powercfg -h off

    REG ADD "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Power" /V HiberbootEnabled /T REG_dWORD /D 0 /F

    echo hi
     
  3. Go to the command prompt you opened in Step #1, then right click in the middle of the window and select "Paste". The text you copied in Step #2 will be output to the command line.
     
  4. You can now reboot your machine and you should be able to login to it again.

If you still cannot boot the machine normally, you are welcome to contact me for additional 1-on-1 support.

Option (B): if you are in Safe Mode and you don't have Internet access (and can't access this page online)

You will need to follow the same Steps 1-2 above, except you will have to manually type in the commands rather than copy and pasting them into the command line with your mouse.

The commands must be typed in exactly as it is written, or it will fail. Note that the powercfg command won't respond with any output if it's typed in properly; the "REG ADD" command will say "The operation completed successfully." - assuming you typed it in correctly. You don't need to type in the "echo hi" command. Once complete, reboot the machine as usual via the Start menu and the machine should boot back into Windows normally.

If it does not boot properly, then you are welcome to contact me for additional support.

Option (C): if your computer won't boot into Safe Mode and you still get a black screen

If Windows 10 boots into a black screen even after you told it to boot into Safe Mode, you will need to initiate the Recovery Environment again, and then disable fast boot manually using a command line. This means you will have to type in the commands by hand, which won't be easy unfortunately.

To do so:

  1. Power on the machine.
     
  2. As soon as you see the blue Windows logo appear (the 4 blue squares in the middle of the screen), press and hold the power button on the PC for 5 to 10 seconds. This will forcefully shut it off.
     
  3. Repeat Steps #1 and #2 three times. On the third time, your machine will boot into the Recovery Environment.
     
  4. You should now see a screen entitled "Automatic Repair". Choose the "Advanced options" button.
     
  5. On the following page, click "Troubleshoot". On the proceeding page, click "Advanced options", then click "Command Prompt".
     
  6. A black command prompt window should appear. You will need to type in the following commands exactly as it is written, or the command will fail. Note that the powercfg command won't respond with any output if it's typed in properly; the "REG ADD" command will say "The operation completed successfully." if you typed it in properly.

    The commands to type in are:

    powercfg -h off

    REG ADD "HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Power" /V HiberbootEnabled /T REG_dWORD /D 0 /F
     
  7. When complete, press and hold the power button on the PC to forcefully shut it off, then power it back on and Windows should boot normally.

If the machine still does not boot normally, you are welcome to contact me for additional support, described next.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

The Windows 10 black screen before login problem - otherwise known as "the black screen of death" - is a very problematic issue to fix. If all of this is over your head, or if you need help fixing the black screen of death, I can help using my remote support service. Simply contact me, briefly describing the issue and I will get back to you as soon as possible. Note that in order for me to provide this service, you will need access to another PC or laptop so that I can connect to it and instruct you accordingly.

Got a Computer Question or Problem? Ask Dennis!

I need more computer questions. If you have a computer question - or even a computer problem that needs fixing - please email me with your question so that I can write more articles like this one. I can't promise I'll respond to all the messages I receive (depending on the volume), but I'll do my best.

About the author: Dennis Faas

is the owner and operator of Infopackets.com. With over 30 years of computing experience, Dennis' areas of expertise are a broad range and include PC hardware, Microsoft Windows, Linux, network administration, and virtualization. Dennis holds a Bachelors degree in Computer Science (1999) and has authored 6 books on the topics of MS Windows and PC Security. If you like the advice you received on this page, please up-vote / Like this page and share it with friends. For technical support inquiries, Dennis can be reached via Live chat online this site using the Zopim Chat service (currently located at the bottom left of the screen); optionally, you can contact Dennis through the website contact form.

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