Nothing is more frustrating than your computer not working properly, and believe me, I know. In the particular case that your computer monitor has a blank screen, it could be due to any number of reasons. Take a moment and read through the possible situations and causes below.
Just as there are different reasons for a blank screen, there are just as many characteristics. For example, is your monitor blank, or black when you first turn on the computer, or is it only happening when entering Windows? Though these may seem similar, they could have varying causes. It could be a hardware issue, corrupted software or system files, or an incompatible or damaged device driver.
In this article, we’ll focus on some common occurrences, and possible causes of both, blank screens in Windows, and when your computer boots. Though note, that each issue may resolve your problem in either scenario. I realize these may not be step-by-step solutions, but typically, it takes more than one tried solution to resolve the issue.
Before you start reviewing the below, try to have your situation in mind; is the screen blank immediately upon computer booting, do you see a series of colored lines, or shades prior to the black out? If the monitor screen is blank only after logging into Windows, can you see your mouse cursor?
Let’s first take a look at a few common occurrences regarding blank screens.
Common Blank Screen Occurrences
- Your computer just started, it’s running, but your power light went from green to red and your screen is blank
- Upon booting your computer, you hear the CPU fan start, your optical drive clicks, and your power light is on, but your computer won’t start
- The monitor is blank, though the power light is on, and the computer appears to be running
- You booted your computer up to the Welcome screen, but after you attempt to log into your Windows session, the screen is blank except for the mouse cursor
Possible Blank Screen Causes
If you are able to see your screen initially upon booting, boot into safe mode by pressing the F8 key as your computer starts. If you are able to then log into Windows without the blank screen, you can narrow your causes down to connected peripherals, auto-starting applications, or device drivers. The reason maybe be quirky, corrupted files by malicious virus or spyware.
Desktop PC Monitor Status
Possibly the easiest cause may be a monitor that is not properly attached, the cable has become faulty, or the device drivers for your monitor have been corrupted, or replaced during a Windows Update session.
Be sure your monitor is plugged into the proper port. If you are using dual-monitors, make sure you have the proper combination of connection types. For example, one of my desktop PC’s has an HDMI port, and when used, I can only connect a VGA-based monitor as a second, and cannot use a DVI-based connection.
Failing Video Card or Adapter in Desktop PC’s and Laptops
The failure of a video card can be the cause of blank screens, simply because it is failing. Laptops, for example, take on much heat, and if it is excessive for too long, the connection of the vcard separates, and the screen becomes blank. It requires a cool-down period and specific powering on procedure to get it back working.
Removable Flash Drive
Is there a removable USB flash drive plugged into your computer, or USB hub? If yes, remove the drive and drive rebooting. If you boot as normal, either your flash drive has become faulty, is corrupted, or you have a hardware issue with your USB ports on your computer, or possible device driver corruption.
Recently Installed Hardware
Have you recently installed new hardware, such as a video card, other expansion card, connected a peripheral to any port on your motherboard, such as a keyboard, either USB-connected cable or wireless USB dongle? Have you upgraded any motherboard component, such as RAM, or at minimum, added another RAM module? All hardware must be compatible. Your screen is blank because your computer is confused upon startup, and is frozen, due to the incompatible component you added.
Specific Look at RAM Modules
Not only upgrading RAM may be the culprit, it could be RAM gone bad. I know, it sounds like a hit TV series, but this can be the ill of your computer woes.
- Recently upgraded RAM: Should your motherboard not recognize your RAM, your computer monitor will go black. Additionally, your computer may, or may not, provide audible tones, or beeps. First, double-check you have added the correct RAM type, and not exceeded the amount of memory possible, and that they are installed in proper configuration. You should also swap out the modules with your previous memory chips to see if the issue persists.
- Existing RAM may be failing: Try removing the modules, cleaning and reinserting them.
New or Upgraded CPU
Are you building a new computer, or upgrading your existing rig? If so, check to make sure your CPU is properly seated in its socket. This issue has occurred to me more than once. CPU install should be straightforward, but at times, it is not fully seated in the socket. If you remove the CPU, make sure to reapply thermal grease before reseating it.
Possible Power Issues
If your power light is a solid, or even flashing, amber color, it could mean a number of things. The more common causes is an issue with your power, either power supply in desktops, or a battery or adapter problem for laptops. It could also be a short in hardware, most commonly, a USB or other port.
Corruption in Your Master Boot Sector
This is a small area of the computer that is required for startup procedures. If the files, or code, become corrupted, or is infected by a virus, blank screen can certainly be one of the issues. Microsoft has a good KB article and repair procedure for this: How to use the Bootrec.exe tool in the Windows Recovery Environment to troubleshoot and repair startup issues in Windows
Blank Screen Issues in The News
As you may have already guessed, these issues are not limited to personal computers, or even to Windows. Here are a few related articles:
Unaccelerated drivers may produce a blank screen
This situation was indicated by Apples support site, regarding the X Lion OS on iMac’s.
MacBook Pro Blank Screen
This is a continuation of an existing thread on Apple support forum. The original thread was getting so long, it was timing-out visitor browsers
Ubuntu 11.04 blank screen on boot
Here is a recent forum thread on ‘thedaneshproject.com’ about Ubuntu users experiencing blank screens during boot up
How to fix Android’s blank screen of death
Network World reported that Android-based mobile devices have similar issues with blank screens
Xbox Blank Screen | Xbox 360 Monitor Issues
As reported on Xbox.com, though the green light is on, the Xbox 360-connected monitor, or TV, shows a blank screen
Why do I get a blank screen when trying to sign in to Classic AOL …
AOL forum thread about AOL users experiencing the problem when signing into AOL