A black screen at boot is bad news. It’s tough to diagnose a problem without helpful information on the screen. After upgrading to Windows 10, many users found themselves looking at a black screen. Let’s look at how to solve it.
Follow our troubleshooting steps in order. Start with the basic checks, like ensuring the cables are connected and the monitor is turned on. Then proceed to more advanced solutions, like booting into Safe Mode to remove the display driver.
Note: Should you see an error like “missing operating system” or “invalid partition table”, you might have to fix your Master Boot Record (MBR).
1. Perform Basic Checks
If you’re not getting any picture at all, even when the system is first booting, the first thing you need to do is check the display connection. I know, you probably rolled your eyes at the suggestion, but do it anyway. Ensure the cable running from your monitor to your PC hasn’t come loose. Even if it hasn’t, switch the cable to a different video input and see if that solves it. Also, make sure the monitor is actually switched on.
If possible, connect your monitor to a different computer and see if it works there. If not, it can be a sign that the monitor is faulty and you should contact the manufacturer. Alternatively, you can try a different monitor on your computer. If that works, again, the other monitor may have a fault.
2. Unplug Your Devices
With your system on, disconnect all of your external devices. This includes your mouse, keyboard, external hard drive, and so on. Restart your computer and see if you still get the black screen. If you don’t, plug each device in one at a time until you find what’s causing the problem.
With the problematic device identified, try updating its drivers. See our guide on finding and replacing drivers if you need a hand with that. No luck? Check out the device manufacturer’s support site and contact them for further help if needed.
3. Adjust Projection Settings
It may be that your system’s projection settings are set incorrectly. Press Windows key + P to bring up the Projection menu. From top to bottom the options are: PC screen only, Duplicate, Extend, and Second screen only. While the first is the default, consider that yours might not be set to it.
Press P to move the selection down the list and Enter to select. Repeat this four times to get back to the original setting, though hopefully one of the settings along the way will bring your display back.
4. Reinstall Display Drivers
To reinstall display drivers we’ll need to boot into Safe Mode. The method depends on various factors, so follow the appropriate steps below, then continue reading to find out how to reinstall your display drivers.
A. You Can See the Login Screen
Restart your computer. At the login screen, hold Shift, select the Power icon, and click Restart. Once restarted, select Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Startup settings > Restart. Again, your system will restart and present you with different options. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.
B. You Can’t See Anything and Have a Recovery Drive
If you have already created a recovery drive before this problem occurred, good job! Shut down your system and then connect the recovery drive. On the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.
C. You Can’t See Anything and Don’t Have a Recovery Drive
You need access to a working computer so that you can create Windows 10 installation media. Download Windows 10 from Microsoft and then use this to create installation media. If you need help on that, see our guide on making a bootable ISO. You then need to set the boot order in the BIOS to read your installation media first. Again, if you need a hand, see our guide on how to change the boot order.
On the installation screen, select Repair your computer. Then select Troubleshoot > Advanced Options > Startup Settings > Restart. Once restarted, press F5 to select Safe Mode with Networking. If that doesn’t work, follow the prior steps but select F3.
How to Reinstall Your Display Drivers
Now you’re in Safe Mode, do a system search for device manager and select the relevant result. Expand the Display adapters option. Right-click the option within and select Properties. Go to the Driver tab.
If available, click Roll Back Driver…, select a reason, and click Yes. This will take you back to the previously installed driver. If this doesn’t work, or isn’t an option, select Uninstall to completely remove the driver.
You might experience some weirdness with this, like getting an incorrect resolution, but if it restores the monitor’s image then you’ve determined it’s a driver fault. If so, go to the manufacturer’s website and install an older driver or contact them for support.
Return From the Dark Side
Hopefully, working through these steps has solved your black screen problems, but if not then see our other article on troubleshooting black screen issues for advice on power supplies and overheating.
If you don’t have a black screen, but instead one that’s flashing constantly, it’s time to read our article on how to fix Windows 10’s flashing screen problem.
Have you suffered from a black screen on Windows 10? What did you do to resolve it?
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