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Blank screen at start-up

Last response: in Windows 7
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November 30, 2013 10:42:51 AM

I have a problem with my Win-7 desktop PC (HP p6280t). (The screen remains blank, the HDD activity stops and there no cursor and the keyboard is unresponsive a few seconds after the start-up cycle.) Details below.

There are several strange symptoms that started with this problem and seem to be related:

    1. After any power-up or restart cycle the Bios screen will flash momentarily showing the various Function keys (F9, F10, F11, ESC).
    2. After this, the screen goes blank with no cursor, but remains active. In other words, the monitor does not go into power saving mode.
    3. The keyboard becomes unresponsive meaning the Caps-lock and Num-lock toggles are not working.
    4. There are no beeps or noises during start-up.
    5. All HDD activity stops when screen goes blank. (No amount of waiting will cause it to start from this mode, the only way forward is to do a hard power-off and start again.)
    6. The machine is unable to boot from CD/DVD rescue disc even though bios is set (by default) to boot from CD/DVD first.
    7. I am unable to select System Recovery (F11) during startup
    8. I am able to select Bios Set-up (F10) during start-up, but even after resetting everything to factory default settings, it still fails to boot. (All HDDs and memory report as normally from the bios screens.)
    9. If the Bios screen is left on the monitor for 5 minutes or more, then I select Exit and without saving changes, it WILL boot into windows normally and everything seems to be working normally. (This the only way to get the machine to boot.)
    10. If after booting as in step 7 above, shut-down and restart will produce the same blank screen during start-up.

    I am wondering if this could be a power-supply problem or or perhaps something corrupted on the start-up boot sector of the C-drive. I can't seem to understand how I can get past the initial problems by going into the bios set-up screen for a few minutes then exiting. Any ideas?

    I was able to complete a full scan-disc on the C drive, but this didn't find any problems and didn't change anything.
    I was able fully disable the hibernate mode and deleted the hiberfil.sys file, but this also made no difference.

    (Updated to further clarify original symptoms)

More about : blank screen start

a b $ Windows 7
November 30, 2013 12:49:36 PM

I've dealt with this issue many times.. the cause seems to be the Power Options feature, particularly the Hiberfil.sys file... which apparently gets corrupted to easily.

In the first place I don’t use Hibernation if I can avoid it.. but when I have to use it, almost immediately notice the computer starts to have performance, stability and apparent memory issues... and to fix it, I disable the Hibernation feature or delete the C:\Hiberfil.sys file, restart and enable it again.

What I’d suggest is; When your computer doesn't wake up, and if you want to boot into the files/programs you had active the last time, just wait as long as it takes.. it will probably boot if you allow enough time…

And as prevention, disable Hibernation on a regular basis.. I have estimated from 7 to 10 days should keep the Power Options feature working reasonably well… but if you want the computer working at it’s full potential, disable it every other day. The feature deletes the Hiberfil file as soon as you disable it, so you can probably re-enable it without restarting the computer, and that will rebuild the Hiberfil file fresh. It’s a matter of testing how long it takes in your particular case.. depends on the amount of data the file stores. BTW when the problem comes up, and you restart the computer, that probably resets the Hiberfil file so the corrupt Hiberfil data is erased.
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November 30, 2013 4:42:08 PM

Chicano said:
I've dealt with this issue many times.. the cause seems to be the Power Options feature, particularly the Hiberfil.sys file... which apparently gets corrupted to easily.

What I’d suggest is; When your computer doesn't wake up, and if you want to boot into the files/programs you had active the last time, just wait as long as it takes.. it will probably boot if you allow enough time…

And as prevention, disable Hibernation on a regular basis.. I have estimated from 7 to 10 days should keep the Power Options feature working reasonably well… but if you want the computer working at it’s full potential, disable it every other day. The feature deletes the Hiberfil file as soon as you disable it, so you can probably re-enable it without restarting the computer, and that will rebuild the Hiberfil file fresh. It’s a matter of testing how long it takes in your particular case.. depends on the amount of data the file stores. BTW when the problem comes up, and you restart the computer, that probably resets the Hiberfil file so the corrupt Hiberfil data is erased.


Thanks for the suggestion. This doesn't seem to be the problem. I never use Hibernate mode anyway. (I only use Sleep mode.) It doesn't matter how long I wait when the screen is blank, it never comes back.

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Related resources
a b $ Windows 7
November 30, 2013 5:10:31 PM

The hibernation, sleep mode/standby memory is saved in the same file... the C:\Hiberfil.sys file, so the solution is the same for problems with every one of the Power Options... and the resulting black screen. It's a simple setting.. do it and see the problem go away.. untill the next time that is, since it's a common problem that Microsoft apparently hasn't paid attention to... and has been dragging in every Windows for at least 13 years.

Also delete the temp files as accumulation of such files may be related to the problem, type on the search bar "%temp%" for the user account temp files and type "temp" to clean the System temp files... none of those files with previous dates is of any further use and cleaning them liberates disk space and improves performance... and just may improve the Power Options functionality.
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November 30, 2013 7:28:32 PM

Chicano said:
The hibernation, sleep mode/standby memory is saved in the same file... the C:\Hiberfil.sys file, so the solution is the same for problems with every one of the Power Options... and the resulting black screen. It's a simple setting.. do it and see the problem go away.. untill the next time that is, since it's a common problem that Microsoft apparently hasn't paid attention to... and has been dragging in every Windows for at least 13 years.
.


Yes, thanks. I did try that and turned off Hibernate, deleting the hiberfil.sys as you suggested, but it made no difference. Even with no hiberfil.sys, it still fails to start-up unless I go through the Bios set-up menus and pause for several minutes.
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a b $ Windows 7
December 1, 2013 11:47:37 AM

These articles explain how the Hibernation and Sleep Mode work and what can cause the problem as well as how to reduce the possibility of it repeating. I know you said to never use Hibernation but I don't think you fully understand it.. Sleep Mode also known as Stand by, is a suspended but active state, and from Sleep Mode follows Hibernation if it is not disabled... with Sleep Mode the Hard Drive LED stays on changing from green to yellow.. but when everything stops and all LEDs shutdown, then Sleep Mode has passed into Hibernation. From your initial description of the problem, the only way to understand it, is that is goes into Hibernation and so the problem has to be treated as a Hibernation not Sleep Mode problem. From this conclusion the solution would be as simple as disabling the Hibernation so the computer remains indeffinitely in Sleep Mode. I added a few links so you can read how Hibernation-Sleep Mode works and what problems can occur with it, as well as configuring the computer to reduce the possibility of the problem happening, but to begin just disable Hibernation and wait for results.

Hibernation issues for windows 7 computer
http://superuser.com/questions/354810/hibernation-issue...

How to Make Hibernation Work Better on Your PC
http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/how-make-hibern...

Hibernation (computing)
Comparison to sleep mode
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hibernation_(computing)
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December 1, 2013 1:55:18 PM

Chicano said:
...From this conclusion the solution would be as simple as disabling the Hibernation so the computer remains indeffinitely in Sleep Mode. I added a few links so you can read how Hibernation-Sleep Mode works and what problems can occur with it, as well as configuring the computer to reduce the possibility of the problem happening, but to begin just disable Hibernation and wait for results.


Thanks again, but as I explained the previous reply I have completely disabled hibernate and deleted the hiberfil.sys file and it changed nothing. I haven't used sleep or hibernate since this problem started. The problem occurs after any conventional powerdown or restart cycle. Disabling hibernation made no difference. Perhaps the thread title is confusing. I will edit the OP to add more details. I need some other solution.
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a b $ Windows 7
December 1, 2013 5:54:42 PM

VideoVeteran said:
Thanks again, but as I explained the previous reply I have completely disabled hibernate and deleted the hiberfil.sys file and it changed nothing. I haven't used sleep or hibernate since this problem started. The problem occurs after any conventional powerdown or restart cycle. Disabling hibernation made no difference. Perhaps the thread title is confusing. I will edit the OP to add more details. I need some other solution.


Ok, now that changes everything.. if the problem occurs even without involving the sleep mode, then it's not the Power Options.. It could be the PSU, motherboard, BIOS, RAM. The symptoms could be caused by any of them.

You also mentioned the keyboard not responding, no beeps, and assorted problems that seem to be caused by either the BIOS or the PSU.. the PSU may initially not supply the necessary energy to power everythig and maybe something needs to warmup, maybe the PSU capacitors need to accumulate power.. it's hard to tell without doing tests.. so start with the PSU.. try a different one that's know to be working normally. If it doesn't help, replace the BIOS battery. In my experience a weak battery has caused corrupted BIOS settings, you know that when you reset it, the setting are deleted and everthing is back to normal.. so that's a possibility but with a simple fix. RAM can be checked with Memtest, the motherboard can be checked for bad capacitors.

You also mentioned the bootloader... that's a slight possibility but it can easily be fixed with the Windows 7 installation disk. Check the Tutorial for Startup Repair.

How to Fix Windows 7 When It Fails to Boot
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/win7-windows-7-mbr,100...
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December 5, 2013 4:58:51 PM

I have found this most interesting, as with other links. However, it all seems moot if you have a blank screen, get no keyboard help, power button does not work, etc. So how do we fix this problem if we cannot access the system. Even the CD/DVD will not read so I can use Win Setup Disk. Additionally, there is no response with F10, F8, F5, etc. I have tested the motherboard and rece a FF code. Any help with this code. I welcome your help. This is the first time I have not been able to correct a problem.
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a b $ Windows 7
December 10, 2013 12:38:18 PM

The first thing to check/replace is the PSU, second check the RAM is fitted correctly on the sockets, clean the sockets with compressed air can if possible, replace the BIOS battery, check the motherboard power connections... if all that fails, the motherboard is probably dead. Check the links for more related info.

Guide to troubleshoot the FF code.
http://www.evga.com/support/faq/afmviewfaq.aspx?faqid=5...

https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=cr&ei=dHinUuu2LtDZoASyoI...
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December 10, 2013 9:36:01 PM

Chicano said:
VideoVeteran said:
Thanks again, but as I explained the previous reply I have completely disabled hibernate and deleted the hiberfil.sys file and it changed nothing. I haven't used sleep or hibernate since this problem started. The problem occurs after any conventional powerdown or restart cycle. Disabling hibernation made no difference. Perhaps the thread title is confusing. I will edit the OP to add more details. I need some other solution.


Ok, now that changes everything.. if the problem occurs even without involving the sleep mode, then it's not the Power Options.. It could be the PSU, motherboard, BIOS, RAM. The symptoms could be caused by any of them.

You also mentioned the keyboard not responding, no beeps, and assorted problems that seem to be caused by either the BIOS or the PSU.. the PSU may initially not supply the necessary energy to power everythig and maybe something needs to warmup, maybe the PSU capacitors need to accumulate power.. it's hard to tell without doing tests.. so start with the PSU.. try a different one that's know to be working normally. If it doesn't help, replace the BIOS battery. In my experience a weak battery has caused corrupted BIOS settings, you know that when you reset it, the setting are deleted and everthing is back to normal.. so that's a possibility but with a simple fix. RAM can be checked with Memtest, the motherboard can be checked for bad capacitors.

You also mentioned the bootloader... that's a slight possibility but it can easily be fixed with the Windows 7 installation disk. Check the Tutorial for Startup Repair.

How to Fix Windows 7 When It Fails to Boot
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/win7-windows-7-mbr,100...


Okay, I swapped power supply, cleaned the memory sockets and replaced the bios battery, but the symptoms remained exactly the same: Blank screen, etc after bios setup screen. Let me emphasize it will not boot from the CD/DVD so my recovery and repair discs are of no help. Also the bios is properly reporting the memory and all drives. I am really at a loss here. What now?
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a b $ Windows 7
December 11, 2013 1:29:47 AM

It sounds like the Hard Drive is not booting and neither is the CD/DVD Drive... if the BIOS recognizes both drives, the problem may be damaged connections either digital or power, so check the SATA digital cables to Hard Drive and CD/DVD Drive... and connect them to different SATA mobo ports. If possible see if the Hard Drive boots in another computer.. it will probably not boot all the way but it can help diagnose it... also disconnect the CD/DVD drive to see if the Hard Drive boots that way. You can also try booting either drive with the BIOS boot selector using the appropriate key. You can see which key to use in the BIOS post. You could also try using a boot manager application you can install on a floppy or USB pendrive to help boot from the Hard Drive or CD/DVD Drive...

If you can manage to boot from the CD/DVD Drive, you can use the Win 7 disc to repair the bootloader or you can use the Hiren's Boot CD which includes several boot managers you can use to boot from the Hard Drive. The Hiren's Boot CD can also help you check the hard drive; Once it has booted, if you can see the files and folders in the HD, that means it can still be accessed.. it also includes some tools to diagnose the hard drive and Windows 7 bootloader.
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December 11, 2013 9:24:19 AM

Here's the latest update:
Swapped SATA ports for the HDDs on the MOBO - no change.
Disconnected CD drive - no change.
Can't use USB boot manager since Bios doesn't support USB-boot and the it won't boot from the CD/DVD drive.

Observations: The HDD activity light does flash briefly during the initial boot up and I can hear the drive spinning initially, but it stops immediately after the BIOS screens. F10 will allow me to access bios set-up, but if I press ESC to get the Boot Menu, it briefly flashes "Loading Boot Menu" on the screen, but then the screen goes blank and nothing else happens.
As I mentioned previously, I did a full PS swap, so I have verified the power cables to the HDDs are not the problem since they are attached to the PS.

Next, I will remove the HDD and test it on a separate PC.
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a b $ Windows 7
December 11, 2013 1:05:23 PM

The HP Pavillion P6280T should support USB boot... it's not that old.. I have much older computers both Intel and AMD and they do support USB boot. You may have to look closer. Download a PDF user manual to find the setting. Also, have you done a BIOS update? if you can find one from a more recent date, it may include a USB boot option... and may possibly fix the problem. Also, some Boot Managers include in the description that they can make USB boot without BIOS support.

From your observations, it's possible the BIOS is corrupted. See if the Hard Drive runs longer with the BIOS battery removed. The purpose is to test the Hard Drive and determine if it stops on it's own or maybe due to BIOS issues. That BIOS failure to load the Boot Menu may indicate it has serious problems, so and update would be suggested.
If a BIOS update, new battery, and proven good Hard Drive don't solve it, I would point the finger at the motherboard...
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December 11, 2013 7:45:40 PM

Chicano said:
The HP Pavillion P6280T should support USB boot... it's not that old.. I have much older computers both Intel and AMD and they do support USB boot. You may have to look closer. Download a PDF user manual to find the setting. Also, have you done a BIOS update? if you can find one from a more recent date, it may include a USB boot option... and may possibly fix the problem. Also, some Boot Managers include in the description that they can make USB boot without BIOS support.

From your observations, it's possible the BIOS is corrupted. See if the Hard Drive runs longer with the BIOS battery removed. The purpose is to test the Hard Drive and determine if it stops on it's own or maybe due to BIOS issues. That BIOS failure to load the Boot Menu may indicate it has serious problems, so and update would be suggested.
If a BIOS update, new battery, and proven good Hard Drive don't solve it, I would point the finger at the motherboard...


I can't find any setting to do a USB boot from this bios. Here are some screen shots of the bios settings.

I'm not sure how I could do a bios update when I can't even get the machine to boot. Is there some way to do it?

I did remove the boot drive and found it contains three partitions: (1) Primary Partition - 584 GB; (2) "Local Disk" - 99.9 Mb; (3) "Factory Image" - 12.0 GB. I performed a full scan and repair on each partition and there were no errors found. Everything seems to be fine with the HDD.

I also installed a working secondary (non-boot) disk as the primary HDD in the machine to see if it would at least give me a bad disk or non-bootable disk message, but the symptoms were exactly the same with no error message (blank screen after bios.)

These tests suggest that the only things left are the Bios or the Mobo. Again, i did remove the battery and it made no difference. The bios seems to be working based on the reports from bios set-up screens (this is the ONLY thing that seems to be working).

Since there are no beeps coming from the Mobo, I'm not sure what else I can test there. Maybe it's time for a shotgun?
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a b $ Windows 7
December 11, 2013 9:11:32 PM

You may have to first plug in a USB drive to see it in the BIOS... then see if the Boot menu includes it... You said you can see the BIOS post, so it means you can access it.. and so you may be able to update it from whatever media you can, I was thinking you might have missed the USB boot option... and you may still be able to see it in the BIOS if you first plug it in.

About the hard drive; you first have to make active the first partition on any hard drive to have it identified as a boot drive. But a non bootable (and healthy) hard drive should at least allow the CD/DVD Drive to boot as when starting an installation.

Well, the beeps are initiated by the BIOS, so it's not exactly working correctly. I can't think of anything else to try except to make sure the BIOS and motherboard are depleted of any residual power before attempting another bios reset and startup... that's removing the battery, disconnecting the motherboard power connections or removing the AC power line, and press/holding the power button for at least a minute... this should discharge any power still remaining in motherboard components. After that I would wait at least some 15 mintues for the BIOS to reset before putting everything back toghether.
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December 29, 2013 7:12:54 PM

Thanks for all your help @Chicano. I wanted to close the loop here. The problems were completely resolved with a new motherboard. I suspect that there was a hardware problem with the SATA interface. I moved the CPU, Memory, HDDs, graphics board, etc over to the new motherboard and everything is happy again.
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