How to Fix a Black Screen of Death Error in Windows 10


You’ve heard of the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), a common Windows error screen displayed when a system fault occurs. But the B in BSOD doesn’t always stand for blue.

A Black Screen of Death can prove to be more difficult to resolve as it doesn’t display an error message. It’s simply a black screen, often with a movable mouse pointer, but no other Windows features.

Here are a few common causes and solutions for the Black Screen of Death.

What Causes the Black Screen of Death on Windows 10?

Various issues can cause the Black Screen of Death. In this guide, we’ll give you solutions for the most common causes:

  • Incomplete Windows 10 installation
  • Windows Update
  • Software and driver errors
  • Display issues
  • Overheating
  • Power supply problems

All the above can cause a Windows computer to get stuck on black screen. Any Windows 10 computer can suffer from this problem – desktop or laptop. Even a Microsoft Surface Pro can have a Black Screen of Death.

Fortunately, almost all Black Screen of Death cases can be resolved.

1. A Quick Restart

Sometimes, all you need is a reboot. You’d be surprised how often a quick restart is all that’s needed to fix a host of problems on your Windows operating system—especially if the system has been running for a while. So before you move on to anything complex, reboot your PC and see if it fixes the black screen error on your PC and returns everything to normal.

2. Restart the File Explorer

In some cases, even if your desktop has gone completely black, you might still be able to see the mouse cursor. This means that your File Explorer isn’t working. All you need to do is start the File Explorer, and your display will start working normally again. Here’s how you can do that:

  1. Launch the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys. Alternatively, head to the Start menu search bar, type in ‘task manager,’ and select the best match.
  2. In the Task Manager, click on File > Run new task.
  3. Type in “explorer.exe” in the Create new task dialog box and hit Enter.

This should fix the black screen error on your Windows 10. Don’t lose hope if it doesn’t though; just move to the next method.

3. Installing Windows 10 and the Black Screen of Death

If you’re installing Windows 10, whether updating from a previous version or onto a formatted hard drive, errors can occur.

Among them is the Windows 10 Black Screen of Death, which can occur in this instance if:

  • Setup is still in progress: In this case, check if the hard drive LED is blinking. Setup is probably still running, but slow, which might be due to the age of the computer. Windows 10 should install within a couple of hours in most cases.
  • Setup is stuck: If this has happened and there is no HDD activity, power off the computer by holding the power button for five seconds. Disconnect any non-vital peripherals, then power up again. Setup should restart; if not, and you’re updating from an old Windows version, try installing with the media creation tool.
  • A device driver has failed: In this case, reboot the computer into Safe Mode. See the section “Repair a Black Screen of Death in Safe Mode” below for more information on this.

Installing Windows 10 and hitting a Black Screen of Death might discourage you from persisting. If this is the case, and you’re using old hardware, consider a free alternative operating system.

4. A Black Screen After Windows 10 Update

On Windows 10 systems, a Black Screen of Death can be caused by an unfinished Windows Update.

What typically happens is that the system reboots as part of the update, and you’re presented with a login screen. However, after entering your password, your Windows 10 PC is stuck on a black screen after login.

The mouse is responsive; you might see some desktop icons; there is no taskbar. In short, Windows 10 is stuck with a black screen.

To resolve this problem, simply hold the power button down on your PC or laptop to switch off the computer. A cold start should result in the system booting properly. If not, check our tips on how to recover Windows 10.

5. Software Error Causes Black Screen on Your PC

A black screen error is often caused by a software glitch. This most frequently occurs when dealing with a program that takes over your entire screen. Typical culprits are PC games or media players running in full-screen mode.

In these instances, the computer should otherwise appear to run well. Diagnosis should be easy to reproduce. Simply launch the program for a game or media player, and view in full screen mode.

Solving the problem, however, can be difficult; if the bug lies in the software, there may be no solution. You can try fixing it by running the program at a different resolution.

Also, try running the software as an administrator. If this doesn’t help, it might be time to update the software. If this isn’t possible, you may need to revert to an older Windows version for that app. Use a different computer if you have one or install a previous Windows OS in a virtual machine.

6. When a Black Screen of Death Is Just a Display Error… or Faulty Connection

Video errors are another common cause of the Black Screen of Death. No video output means a black screen, no matter what the specific problem might be. Windows may even be presenting a Blue Screen of Death—but you’d never see it!

Check your video connection before you get too worried. Make sure that both ends of your DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort cable is firmly seated and that the cord is undamaged.

Did you just upgrade your monitor? If so, make sure your connection can handle the resolution. Some versions of DVI and HDMI can’t handle resolutions above 1080p.

If these easy solutions don’t work, you’re likely dealing with video adapter issues. If you have a discrete video card, try removing your card and switching to your motherboard’s integrated video.

Does your monitor work? Then the video card is the problem. Try updating to the latest driver version available or, if you recently did that, revert to an old driver. Also check the video card for obvious signs of defect, like a broken cooling fan or charred electronics.

Should the monitor not work when connected to integrated graphics, however, you may have a monitor issue. Check it by connecting to another computer. If the monitor does work with another PC, but not with yours, then you’re probably looking at a hardware fault elsewhere that impacts the video card’s ability to work.

Your Windows black screen error could be down to the motherboard, the power supply, or the hard drive.

7. Overheating Can Cause Windows Black Screen Errors

All computers generate heat. This heat must be removed to keep the system running; high temperatures can cause components to lock-up and become damaged. Fortunately, computers are built to shut down before that occurs.

Overheating will usually result in a featureless black computer screen, which may or may not be followed by a restart.

In many cases, overheating is caused by the video card or the processor. As noted, you should suspect the video card if you receive a black screen when the computer otherwise appears to be working (the fans are on, the hard drive light active, etc.).

If the processor has overheated, the black screen will usually prompt a reboot or automatic shutdown of the PC.

Overheating can often be solved by opening your PC and cleaning out the cobwebs. Use a vacuum to suck up obvious dust (avoiding internal cables, of course). A can of compressed air can dislodge stubborn dirt. Also, check that all fans are still working and replace any that aren’t. If the problem persists after these steps, you may have a faulty cooler or flawed video card and/or processor.

8. Repair a Black Screen of Death in Safe Mode

Hardware and driver issues resulting in a Black Screen of Death can be repaired via Safe Mode.

If your computer is hanging with a black screen:

  1. Restart the computer
  2. Hold F8 or Shift and F8 to boot the computer into Safe Mode

Unable to reach Safe Mode in this way? Try turning the computer off then back on again during the Windows splash screen. On the third attempt, the system will automatically boot into Safe Mode.

With Safe Mode running:

  1. Click Advanced options then Troubleshoot
  2. From here go to Advanced options > Startup Settings > Restart

  3. Select option 4, Enable Safe Mode
  4. Wait for Windows Safe Mode to start
  5. Once booted, press Windows + X
  6. In the Quick Link menu select Device Manager
  7. Expand Display adapters then right-click and select Disable
  8. Restart the computer to recommence installation of Windows 10

If successful, run a Windows Update to download the latest device drivers and solve the Black Screen of Death issue.

9. Computer Stuck on a Black Screen? Check the PSU

A faulty power supply unit (PSU) may cause your PC to hang with a black screen. But how can you fix a Black Screen of Death caused by the PSU?

After all, PSU issues can be difficult to diagnose. You’ll usually find the problem through a process of elimination, but this can take time. If you’ve already checked other hardware and no components are overheating, then the power supply is a likely culprit.

In some cases, the PSU may not even be at fault. Upgrades to power-hungry new video cards or processors can impact the power supply. In short, your computer is not receiving enough power.

You can only know for sure by replacing the PSU. As this is a last resort, work through the other solutions first.

Fix the Black Screen of Death With These Tricks

The Black Screen of Death is usually caused by a software glitch (or Windows Update) but can often be repaired.

Black screens that occur seemingly at random are usually the result of a more serious hardware problem. This will require component repair or replacement. Whatever the case, there is almost always a solution.

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