How to Fix: Laptop Black Screen, Windows Won't Boot

Dennis Faas's picture

Infopackets Reader Elijah N. writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I have an HP laptop with Windows 10. Yesterday the laptop was working perfectly fine, but this morning I tried to turn it on and all I get is a black screen. The power light turns on, and the screen appears to be on (the screen backlight is on), but the screen is black and it won't boot into Windows 10. Nothing happens. What can I do to get my laptop working? "

My response:

This is a fairly common issue, and is either a hardware problem or a Windows boot problem. Some possibilities include: the laptop motherboard or display may have died, or a laptop component failed and needs to be replaced, your BIOS is corrupt, and possibly the Windows boot sector (or Windows itself) has gone corrupt. There are a few things you can do, which I will explain in detail below. Note that these steps apply to any version of Windows, and not just Windows 10.

How to Fix: Laptop Black Screen, Windows Won't Boot

Here are a few things you can try:

  1. First, unplug the battery from the laptop and then try and power on with only the power cord plugged in. If it works without the battery plugged in, then most likely your battery needs to be replaced. If you still have a black screen, keep the battery unplugged and proceed to the next step.
     
  2. Unplug the power cord, turn the laptop over and take the hard drive out of the machine, then power the system back on again. If you progress past the black screen then there may be something wrong with the hard drive (or Windows), or your BIOS configuration which is causing some sort of lengthy delay. In the latter case you will need to go into the BIOS and review your boot sequence. In the former case you can try inserting another hard drive (if you have one) to see if you get past the black screen. If you do get past the black screen, then the problem is likely the other hard drive. If you don't have another hard drive you can try and boot from a Windows 10 USB / DVD (installation media) and attempt to install Windows 10 again. If it works after that, then the problem was indeed Windows. If none of that works, then proceed to the next step.
     
  3. Unplug the power cord, turn the laptop over, then remove your RAM modules and put them back in. Before handling the RAM, make sure you touch a wall outlet (power socket) screw which is grounded and will help prevent static electricity. Tip: only touch the RAM by its outer edges - never touch the chips or the gold conductive parts or you will risk damaging the chip with potential static electricity. If the laptop has more than 1 RAM module, try plugging in one module at a time, then power on, test, and see if you get past the black screen. If not, proceed to the next step.
     
  4. Another thing you can try is to re-flash the laptop's BIOS. Sometimes the BIOS goes corrupt and will give you a black screen - this happened to me with my Acer notebook, and re-flashing the BIOS worked. Since your computer won't even boot at this point, the only way you can re-flash the BIOS is if your laptop manufacturer supports flashing the BIOS during a power-on state. This is usually done by copying a BIOS .ROM file onto a USB flash drive, then you insert the flash drive into the laptop, then press a series of keys (example: FCN + ESC + Power Button, for example) to initiate a power-on flash. To figure out if this option is even available, you will need to go to the manufacturer's website, search for your laptop model, locate drivers and downloads, then look through the BIOS section for something matching what I just mentioned.
     
  5. If none of that helps you can try bringing the machine to a computer shop. If you choose this option you might want to ask if the shop charges a diagnostic fee, first. If they do, then you will need to figure out if it's worth spending the money to perform tests on a possibly dead laptop, or to take the money and put it towards purchasing a new laptop. I suggest calling around, either way.

    Also: if the hard drive is in working order, it is possible to retrieve data from the old laptop, then place it onto another machine, or even a new laptop. In either case, you will need to purchase an external 2.5" hard dive enclosure, insert your old drive into it, then attach it to another machine (or new laptop), then copy the files over. Once files are copied over you will need to reset file permissions (access rights) or the files won't open and may not be writable. I can help with this by remote desktop support if you need.

I hope that helps.

Additional 1-on-1 Support: From Dennis

If all of this is over your head or if you need help with any of the steps, you can contact me for remote desktop support assistance. I can connect with you (on another machine), answer any questions you may have, and guide you in determining the best approach to take. I can even help to backup your data and restore it onto another machine if needed. Simply send me a brief message describing your problem and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

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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Comments

Boots66's picture

Hi Dennis - Unless I did not catch this in your discription, there is some other possibilites that Elijah could check - Most laptops have the ability to put out their video to the laptop screen, an external Video Screen or both - If he somehow has enabled the output to an external video screen, then regardless, his laptop would show black screen. He should see if he can plug in an external screen to the back of his laptop connectors and see if shows him his display!
This could also be another way to check to make sure that his laptop main board is in fact firing up, that he tries to send the video output to an external screen or have it go to both may be better yet - If he knows he has it set to display on both screens, but only shows on the external monitor, then his laptop display is toast.
Having worked in a shop at one time, a lady came in with almost the exact issue, but did not want to give up the laptop nor pay for a new display ($1200.00 even in those days) - We showed her how to take it home and use it as a desktop unit with an external display to show her what was on the screen

jamies's picture

I'd add - between Boots66 reply and the first part of option 2 - removing the hard drive - to see if you can access the BIOS (assuming the system is not setup with the new secure boot that frequently does not allow BIOS access).
And - see if you can get the system to boot from any bootable media such as a restore CD/DVD or USB memory device - that you will have created as part of your backup plan, or a windows install CD - any version should do - all you are going to do is see if the PC will get as far as trying to boot from the device.
If it will, then the problem is probably the hard drive - faulty, or the startup code is corrupted or erased.

If the system will not even try accessing the booting device - then it is probably the PC - motherboard powersupply, memory, processor etc. - It's shop time as a new PC will probably be the cheaper option than the repairman time to find and fix the problem. And you get a new PC with a new warrantee - 3 year? - probably more capable and at least double the speed.

And you can discuss getting the data (not the system and probably not the applications) from the old hard drive - If they manage that, then your hard drive is probably OK - maybe the boot facility is erased or corrupted - but you will at least know the data is accessible - or get a 'probability' diagnostic.
(Step 5 in the article - should be a inclusive service for a minimal cost if you are buying a new PC from them - Tell them the new userid, and password (8 characters - includig 1 number and 1 capital) to be used on the new PC for that -
You will be changing the password to a proper one when you get home!

And - you want the old system back - or at least the hard drive - that will contain loads of personal data about you, and your life as well as links to your friends.
(same thing applies to your phone! when you get a new one.)

Consider PC investigation - allow an hour, probably 3 or 4 and there is also the possiblity of damaging any replacement parts swapped into the system to look for the actual problem cause. The repair-shop will have to charge you enough to cover the time and components.

Note - Step 4 in the article is a good start-point - as you will, in the first place be trying to find out if the system will actually get as far as trying to startup an OS - any OS including DOS, UNIX, Linux, any windows, or even manufacturer's flashing facility.

dan400man's picture

Ditto what Boots66 said. If an external monitor doesn't do the trick and it's not a $2000 laptop we're talking about and the data can be recovered (or you have a backup [and you do have a backup, right? Lol.]), then I'm going straight to a new laptop. Because by the time you're done paying for diagnostic fees, for parts and labor, you're probably pretty darn close to the price of a new laptop anyway. A laptop that gets repaired might get, what, a 30-day warranty?

And, if it's a consumer-grade HP laptop, that's definitely something I'm not going to waste money on. (Yeah, personal experience. Have 4 HP laptops, 2 HP desktops, and 3 HP printers in my household. Never buying HP again. My latest acquisition is a Lenovo Yoga. YMMV.)

terry.f.hollett_7880's picture

First, just hold down on the power button for about 5 seconds. Used this method a number of times over the years.

Two, take out the battery, unplug power cord and hold down on the power button for about 30 seconds. Plug in the power cord first and try to tun on. This worked once when the first method failed.

Third, try another power cord. Those things can go bad to.