Troubleshoot black screen & cursor Windows 7 installation
January 5, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

Fresh install of Win 7 HP passes flag logo animation but stops at black screen with moveable cursor. Troubleshooting help?

The machine in question was previously running XP SP3. To prepare for the 7 install, I moved files I wished to keep to the second of two hard disks, and deleted the single partition on the first before installing 7 onto it (using the install DVD interface).

BIOS loads without incident, the Windows flag animation runs as the OS supposedly loads, and then the boot sequence stops—not freezes—at a black screen with a moveable cursor, which infrequently becomes the "processing" cursor with turquoise circle. One of these black screen episodes also featured a intermittently flashing install disc wallpaper.

I have thus far:
-unplugged all external peripherals (excepting keyboard and mouse)
-tried a) booting in low-res (640x480) and b) disabled driver signing modes from within the F8 menu
-tried safe modes (same black screen/cursor nightmare)
-allowed the computer to run overnight (simply to rule out that something, albeit extraordinarily slowly, wasn't happening)

The monitor is connected via DVI, so I don't believe it's a HDMI-draconian-restriction block. I'd try VGA, but the graphics card (nVidia 9800 GT) has only outputs DVI x2 and s-video (analog, but no companion port on the display).

I suspect a video driver-related cause, but apart from that I'm baffled.

Should I start removing/disconnecting internal components—RAM, wireless card, non-OS hard drive?

Thanks for considering my question.
posted by alexandermatheson to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
Try starting task manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Del
I'd also try a full reinstall
posted by pyro979 at 8:46 PM on January 5, 2011

If it won't boot into safe mode, then it probably isn't a video driver issue. Safe mode uses a different driver.

I would run the diagnostic program for your brand of hard disk and make sure it hasn't failed. maybe even run dban on it (erasing EVERYTHING) and try a reinstall.

Could be a damaged install disk, too.

Also, remove the second disk completely (logically anyway- unplug it) before doing the install.
posted by gjc at 8:49 PM on January 5, 2011

I would also recommend a full reinstall.
If the video card was the issue, I believe safe mode would have worked since it doesn't use your video drivers. If the RAM was the issue I'm pretty sure you'd just be getting a blue screen. I think the possibilities are:
a.) bad install/install disk (was this a torrented .iso?)
b.) Something is wrong with the hard drive you're installing the OS on (possibly conflicting files? failed at a very inopportune time?)
posted by Evernix at 9:06 PM on January 5, 2011

I remember my laptop taking really, really long on that same black screen at the first Win7 boot. Like 15 minutes long. After that, everything was fine.

For how long have you tried just letting it sit and do its stuff?
posted by Cironian at 9:13 AM on January 6, 2011

I'm with "remove second hard drive to avoid mistakes" before wipe and load and try again. Sometimes Operating Systems are just like that.
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:45 AM on January 6, 2011

I should add that if after a second install, you get the same problem... then it warrants further investigation.
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:45 AM on January 6, 2011

Response by poster: pyro979: Had the same idea, but the task manager will not load; keyboard commands elicit no response.

gjc and others: Will definitely try pulling the SATA plug on the second disk.

Cironian: I was hoping it was just taking a while, but after eight hours I conceded it wasn't going anywhere.

The install disc was a legitimate ("genuine," as the Windows folks are so fond of asking) OEM copy.

Had wiped/tried install again with the same outcome, but the second drive was connected.

Will update; thank you for your thoughts and time.
posted by alexandermatheson at 10:18 AM on January 6, 2011

FYI, I've since learned that Ctrl-alt-Del will NOT automatically bring up task manager in Windows 7. Now, it's Ctrl-Shift-Esc.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on January 8, 2011

oh, and I've periodically had the very same problem with Windows7 starting up on a NEW OUT OF THE BOX laptop, which discomfits me.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:18 AM on January 8, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, EmpressCallipygos, Will try the alternative key combination, although I'm not holding my breath.
posted by alexandermatheson at 6:57 PM on January 8, 2011

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