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The term “BSOD” commonly refers to the Blue Screen of Death Windows 8 Crashing? How to Easily Troubleshoot Blue Screen & Other Issues Windows 8 Crashing? How to Easily Troubleshoot Blue Screen & Other Issues Windows 8 isn't perfect. That said, most blue screens and application crashes aren't Windows' fault. Our tips will help you identify exactly what's wrong with your PC and fix it. Read More , a common Windows error screen that appears when a critical system fault occurs. The B in BSOD doesn’t always stand for blue, however; sometimes it can stand for black.

A Black Screen of Death can be even more troublesome because it provides no error message to point you in the fault’s direction. Still, some culprits are more likely than others. Here are a few common causes and their solutions.

Software Error

A simple software error is often the cause of a black screen. This most frequently occurs when dealing with a program that takes over your entire screen, such as a PC game How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 One of Microsoft's big strengths -- and weaknesses -- is their focus on backwards compatibility. Most Windows applications will work just fine on Windows 8. This is especially true if they worked on Windows 7,... Read More or a media player in full-screen mode. If the program does not display video and locks up, you’ve effectively lost control of your PC.

In these instances the computer should otherwise appear to run well. There will be no automatic restart or shutdown How to Disable Forced Restarts After a Windows Update How to Disable Forced Restarts After a Windows Update Are you tired of Windows hassling you to reboot your computer after updates were installed? Miss a pop-up and it reboots automatically. Stop this madness and reboot at your leisure. Read More and any audio that was playing will often continue to do so. The issue will usually be easy to reproduce by either launching the program or enabling a video setting, like full screen mode.

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Solving the problem can be difficult and, if the bug lies in the software itself, 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 and, if issues still continue and the program is quite old, try enabling Windows compatibility mode How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 How to Run Old Games & Software in Windows 8 One of Microsoft's big strengths -- and weaknesses -- is their focus on backwards compatibility. Most Windows applications will work just fine on Windows 8. This is especially true if they worked on Windows 7,... Read More .

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Display Error Or Faulty Connection

Video errors are another very 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 Video Cables Explained: Difference Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports Video Cables Explained: Difference Between VGA, DVI, and HDMI Ports There are so many video cables out there and it can get confusing. VGA, DVI, HDMI, DisplayPort -- what's the difference and why do they even matter? Read More 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 actually handle the resolution. Some versions of DVI and HDMI can’t handle resolutions above 1080p.

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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 connecting to your motherboard’s integrated video (if it has such capability). Does your monitor work? Then the video card is the problem. Try updating to the latest driver version available or, if you just recently did that, reverting to an old driver. Also check the video card for obvious signs of defect, like a broken 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 How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On How To Diagnose Hardware Problems When Your Computer Won't Turn On Last week I showed you some of the simplest DIY repairs and upgrades that you can do yourself, but one reader asked how to diagnose which component was the problem. Today I’d like to walk... Read More elsewhere that impacts the video card’s ability to work. Likely candidates include the motherboard, the power supply and the hard drive.

Overheating

All computers generate heat, and that heat must be removed to keep the system running. If too much heat builds up, components can burn, even melt. That’s bad for obvious reasons, so computers are built to shut down before that occurs.

This will usually result in an errorless black screen, which may or may not be followed by a restart. You may expect some dramatic warning or the smell of burnt electronics, but in all likelihood none of that will happen, which can leave you mystified.

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In most cases an overheating issue is caused by the video card or the processor TThrottle: Monitor & Take Action Against CPU & GPU Overheating TThrottle: Monitor & Take Action Against CPU & GPU Overheating Read More . As already said, you should suspect the video card if you receive a black screen, but the computer otherwise appears to be working (the fans are on, the hard drive light active, etc).

If the processor has overheated How To Fix An Overheating Laptop How To Fix An Overheating Laptop Read More , however, your black screen will usually be followed by a reboot or automatic shutdown of your entire PC. In some cases you will receive an alert on your POST screen stating your CPU overheated the next time you turn on your computer.

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

Power Supply Issues

Your computer’s power supply Power Supplies Explained: How To Pick The Perfect PSU For Your Computer Power Supplies Explained: How To Pick The Perfect PSU For Your Computer Most geeks interested in buying new hardware or building a new system think first of the processor, graphics card and perhaps the hard drive. These components have the most impact on performance, so they are... Read More is an often forgotten, but extremely important component. Everything in your PC needs power to run, and if it suddenly cuts out, your computer will go dark for no apparent reason. Alternatively, a problematic PSU may only partially power some components, causing your PC to black screen under heavy load or even at random.

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Unfortunately, a power supply issue can be difficult to diagnose, and you’ll often come to it simply through the process of elimination. If it’s not your video connection, or the video card, and no components are overheating, then the power supply is a likely culprit.

The problem may not even be the power supply’s fault, so to speak, if you’ve upgraded recently. All supplies have a limit to the power they provide and installing a power-hungry new video card or CPU can put it over the edge. Even if you haven’t done so, though, the PSU may be the problem, as they age like everything else.

You can only know for sure by replacing the PSU, so I recommend trying other solutions before going to this extreme.

Conclusion

The black screen of death is usually the result of a software glitch, but this cause is reproducible. Black screens that occur seemingly at random are usually the result of a more serious hardware problem which will require component repair or replacement.

Have you encountered a stubborn black screen, and if so, how did you fix it? Tell your story in the comments.

Image Credits: Don’t Panic by Sarah via Flickr

  1. aiayyu
    August 15, 2016 at 11:15 am

    thanks for the info it help too much

  2. Candy Ray
    August 8, 2016 at 7:50 am

    Well, sometime the peripheral devices would also be a reason. In this kind of case, just remove the peripheral devices could resolve the problem. On the other hand, a bad display driver also could cause this issue. Download and update the correct display driver could be a workable solution. I also had this problem and I repaired the display driver with OSToto Driver Talent, then the problem was gone.

  3. JOHNCHAP2
    April 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    My BSOD occurs randomly and at various frequencies. I have yet to find the cause, but the following actions can get me up and running again without rebooting. Cntrl/Alt/Del and select Windows Task Monitoring will reinstate the video at least briefly. If the video does not stay on I will do it again but select Switch User and relog on to my same account. This works most of the time. If both these fail to keep the video on I will next select Log Off and once it starts immediately select cancel. This has rarely failed to get me back up and running. On the rare occasions when all the above have been unsuccessful even after trying each twice I am left to the very time consuming rebooting.

  4. ssssssss
    February 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

    So, how do you know if it's your monitor? No error message neither and PASSED all alienware dell testing diagnostics online.

  5. Cipp
    April 13, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Yesterday i got a black screen after Windows Memory Testing. The test seemed to be ok with no errors but my laptop restarted and the black screen appeared. In my case it seems to be the ATI Radeon HD3650 video card that is faulty. Luckly i have a second one from Intel and it`s ok for now.

  6. Mike Boston
    May 28, 2014 at 2:14 am

    Twice last week I got Black SOD after Windows Updates. Both times after the update was finished, My PC crashed with BSOD, and a message telling me that Windows must "Rebuild". Both time the "Rebuild was unsuccessful" and "System Restore will try to restore to an earlier time before the problem." Luckily for me System Restore was able to restore. I have blocked anymore forced Updates and will check them online for reputation before I install them.

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