If you are faced with a black screen on a Windows 10 computer at any point weather during startup or normal use, then you can follow the steps outlined below to troubleshoot and resolve the issue.
This is certainly one of the most frustrating errors a Windows 10 user might encounter. Unlike most other errors where you get an error message or at least an error code to guide you through the search for possible solutions. This one literally leaves you in the dark; no information whatsoever. No hints on the cause of the problem and no suggestions for a solution. This can be accompanied by a cursor, a cursor and a spinning circle, or nothing at all as shown in the image above.
If you’re experiencing a black screen with a cursor or with a cursor and spinning circle, then see Windows 10 Black Screen With Cursor [Solved]
Another scenario that might appear similar to this is when your laptop doesn’t boot up at all for some reason. In this case, you won’t even see your display backlights coming on. Sometimes you may see some LEDs like the Caps Lock and power button LEDs coming on or blinking in some repeated sequences, yet no life on the screen, no lights, no welcome screen.
If you’re experiencing a black screen without the screen back lights as described above, then see How to Troubleshoot a Laptop That Won’t Turn On
Another similar scenario is when your PC is overly slow during boot up. For this scenario your Windows will boot up as usual, however after you enter your login credentials, you observe a prolonged black screen that could hang in for up to a minute or more before Windows continues to boot up.
If you’re experiencing a black screen that lasts for a minute or more in-between Windows startup, then see How To Fix Slow Startup on Windows 10
The solutions below are for situations where you power on your computer, it starts to boot up and then suddenly you’re left with a black screen and nothing follows afterwards. In this situation, you can guess that there are several possible reasons why your computer would run into this state. Below are the most common causes of such a black screen error on Windows 10.
Common Causes of Black Screen on Windows 10
- BIOS issues causing primary display appears like an attached secondary display
- Issues with the display adapter drivers
- Interrupted Windows installation
- Incompatible Windows updates
- Outdated or incompatible drivers
Your black screen error could be coming from any of these common causes, the solutions below are arranged in a sequence that will resolve this issue no matter which of the above causes you might have in your case.
SOLUTION 1: BIOS Issues Causing Primary Display to Act Like Secondary Display
This is a rare occurrence where your BIOS swaps your primary and secondary display sockets, hence making your primary display act as a secondary display. You can watch this video to see a demo of how this case can be identified. Mainly when you notice your black screen just after Windows tries to boot up and passes the welcome screen, then this is likely the case.
If you attach a secondary display to your laptop and wait for some time, you will notice that your Windows will continue to boot up normally on the attached secondary display. If after boot up you try to detect an attached display from your display settings, you will detect your primary screen as an attached display.
In this case, a simple BIOS update should resolve the issue. To update your BIOS, visit your manufacturer support page, download and install the latest System BIOS. You can download on a separate computer and use a USB flash stick to copy to the required laptop. It’s advisable to download drivers from your manufacturer support page to avoid installing unwanted programs on your computer. A simple google search with your PC model should pull up the corresponding support page where you can download the required drivers. Select the link from your PC manufacturer.
For easy installation, you should attach an external display to your PC so you can follow the BIOS updates. For this case, I’m using DELL Vostro 3550. So I will visit the DELL support page below:
The rest of the process in this fix might be different for you depending on your manufacturer and how the support page is organized. The main idea is to flash or update your BIOS.
On the page that follows, select “I’m looking for it myself”. This will enable you to specify the drivers you’re interested in, in this case, the BIOS.
On the next page, select BIOS from the different classes of drivers. That should take you to the BIOS section. Here locate and download the latest BIOS driver.
After downloading, close all apps and programs and simply run as you would run any normal installation.
Please note that BIOS flashing or upgrade is a delicate process. There should be no interruption during the entire process. If the process gets interrupted the BIOS chip could get corrupt and will require that the physical chip be replaced before you are able to gain access to your system again.
The case with this DELL is very straightforward. You can monitor the progress of the installation on the extended display.
Other PC models might require that you make a bootable USB or DVD with the BIOS software and then use the USB to flash the BIOS upon startup.
Here as soon as the BIOS update is done installing, you should have your display working properly again. If this does not resolve your black screen issues, continue with the following suggestions.
SOLUTION 2: Restore Explorer Function
If your black screen showed up after Windows already booted up, then it is likely that your file explorer function has been corrupted by some processes. The Windows explorer is a GUI component of Windows that is used to navigate and manage the drives, folders, and files on your computer. Issues with this explorer can ultimately lead to a black screen. Follow the steps below to rectify your Windows explorer function:
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Del keys at the same time to reveal some quick options.
- Here, select “Task Manager“.
- Click on the “File” menu and select “Run new task“.
- Here, enter explorer.exe and click on the “OK” button.
- Again click on the “File” menu and select “Run new task“.
- Now type in regedit and press enter.
- Next, paste the following path into the registry bar and press Enter. Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon
- Then, scroll down to find the “Shell” entry. Double-click on it and make sure the value data is explorer.exe. Otherwise, enter explorer.exe and click on the OK button.
- Close the task manager and restart your computer to see if the black screen issue has been resolved.
SOLUTION 3: Fix Issues with the Display Adapter Drivers
This is likely the most common cause of these black screen issues in general. Having nothing displaying on your screen is often related to the video adapter or the display adapter drivers. This is mainly because it’s through the display adapters that all graphic contents get delivered to your screen. So if for any reason the display adapter driver is dysfunctional, then you can expect issues like a black screen.
In such situations, the display adapter driver could be outdated and need to be updated, or certain error in Windows 10 display driver which makes your primary display appears like an attached secondary display leaving you with nothing on the screen, or in some cases, the graphic card might be disabled by Windows. To resolve issues with display adapter drivers follow the steps below:
- Press Ctrl + Alt + Del button at the same time as you did in the first section.
- Now click on the Power icon in the lower right corner.
- Then, press and hold the Shift button and click Restart. Do not release the Shift button until you see “Please wait” on the screen.
- Next, select Troubleshoot from the displayed options.
- Then under the Advanced options, select Startup Settings.
- Now, in the Startup Settings window, press 5 to enter “Safe mode with network functions“.
- While in safe mode, you can go ahead to uninstall or update your graphics driver.
- To do that, press the “Windows” key and the “X” key to open the context start menu.
- Here, click “Device Manager“.
- In the device manager, Double-click Display Adapters to expand the menu.
- Then right-click the driver list.
- Here if you think the driver hasn’t been updated for a long time, click “Update Driver“. Then, select Search automatically so that your computer can automatically download and install the latest driver from the Internet. When complete, Restart your computer.
- If you feel that the wrong driver has been updated on your system, click “Uninstall Device“, and afterwards, Restart your PC.
- However, if feel Windows 10 is installing the wrong driver from the Internet, select “Browse Computer” and manually select the appropriate driver folder.
- Compatible graphics drivers can also be downloaded directly from the manufacturer’s website or found on the original CD that came with your PC purchase.
- In each case, restart your computer to see if the black screen issue has been resolved.
SOLUTION 4: Reset Your PC to Get Rid of Black Screen Altogether
If your PC displays a black screen immediately after you turn on your computer, as a last resort, you may need to reset your computer. Since you have already created a detailed tutorial, please click the link to reset and perform the reset operation. Be sure to check out the “Non-functional PC” section which offers many solutions that can revive your PC without formatting your personal data.
Please share your comments, questions and feedback in the comment section below.
The following video demonstrates the solutions in this tutorial.