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  1. #1
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    Vista desktop not appearing (shell problem?)

    Good day to all.

    I rebuilt a friend's Vista Home Premium laptop last fall: new hard drive and a completely fresh OS install. Machine worked fine until recently.

    She sent it to me no longer working. The symptoms are: machine appears to boot normally, but the login page does not appear. Instead, all I see is a black screen with a mouse pointer. Mouse pointer moves normally.

    The Caps Lock and Num Lock keys toggle their respective LEDs normally.

    Its as if the Windows shell is simply not loading.

    What I've tried so far:

    1) mash the F8 key while booting, select "restore last known good configuration". No change.

    2) mash the F8 key while booting, select "Repair Computer". The machine boots and I get the normal color screen asking me for the username and password. I enter those and the repair utility does its thing. But: it says that all items are OK. The last item in the log is "Root cause found: Boot status indicates that the OS booted normally."

    I'm not sure what to try next. Unfortunately, the owner did not send to me either the OS install disk or the drivers disk. I can get them sent out but that will take several days. I don't have any Vista install media here - I made a conscious decision to avoid Vista.

    What I'm hoping is that someone can offer suggestions that I can do either with the laptop directly or by pulling the hard drive and connecting the drive to one of my XP or Win7 computers.

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

    dwayne

  2. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I really think you need the Vista disk as I think you may have to boot from the DVD and run a repair install. This will re-install the system files (I believe) and possibly fix the problem. It is entirely passible she has developed a cold on her PC (virus that is). If this is a possibility a format reinstall would probably be less time consuming than attempting to t/s. Good Luck!
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  3. #3
    Gold Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by DwayneR View Post
    Good day to all.


    The symptoms are: machine appears to boot normally, but the login page does not appear. Instead, all I see is a black screen with a mouse pointer. Mouse pointer moves normally.

    Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

    dwayne
    DwayneR,
    Hello.... When i get a "black screen" after booting up it usually has to do with my "Nvidia" (VGA) control settings ...Sounds like they somehow were switched to a second monitor ...After you boot can you get into your control panel ? Regards Fred
    PlainFred

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    Hi,

    Can you boot in safe mode?

  5. #5
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    One of the first things I checked was to make sure that the machine was not set to use an external display. Hitting the hot-key combo (Fn + F7) causes the display to blank very momentarily, then return to what it was doing before (mouse pointer on black screen).

    Booting into Safe mode has exactly the same results as booting normally: no login screen; movable mouse pointer on black screen.

    I was hoping that someone might have a suggestion in terms of connecting the hard drive to one of my other computers, then using a registry editor of some sort that would mount and open the registry on the affected drive so that I could look at key registry values.

    Many thanks!

    dwayne

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    DwayneR,
    Hello... When you get the "black screen" what happens if you left click and then input your "log on" ( even though you can't see it )? Also you can run the HD on another PC if you have the ports and or a USB input.
    Regards Fred
    Last edited by Just Plain Fred; 2011-01-26 at 12:25.
    PlainFred

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  7. #7
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  8. The Following User Says Thank You to JoeP517 For This Useful Post:

    CLiNT (2011-01-29)

  9. #8
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Hit the Ctr+Alt+Del keys and see if you can bring up taskmanager.
    From taskmanager you should be able to initiate the explorer exe shell and access Windows.

    It's possible that the user's profile and explorer shell has become corrupted by
    either the user or an infection of someform.

    Get the install disks from the owner.

    Even if you where able to connect the hard disk from the laptop to your computer
    and run a thorough AV/AM scan, you may still need the install disks to repair or reinstall if needed.

  10. #9
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    I currently have the same problem on a nephews HP laptop. Normal boot does appear to boot to Windows but you simply can't see the desktop, only the mouse pointer. Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del does nothing, or rather it probably does but you can't see anything. Booting into Safe Mode does work. Updating video drivers did nothing.

    What I did eventually find worked is to boot into Safe Mode, go to Control Panel, Users and turn off UAC. Reboot normal and VOILA! Desktop is back.

    I've been researching this for days and have found nothing to the cause. Yes I did run Avast, Prevx and Malwarebytes scans and found nothing. This system is clean. I also went through every app in Programs and uninstalled anything that was not going to be used. If it were my machine I'd simply leave UAC off but it's my 16 year old nephews so I need to find the cause and turn UAC back on. Hope this helps...for now.

  11. #10
    Super Moderator jwitalka's Avatar
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    If it works in safemode, try the Cleanboot debug procedure starting in Safe mode.

    Jerry

  12. #11
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    Not hijacking the thread but in the event it helps the original poster, a cleanboot did not help for me.

  13. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeperez View Post
    Many thanks for that link. I truly had NO idea how wide-spread this problem was!

    I've spent the past couple of days trying many of the things listed on that page as well as some of the things suggested on pages linked to that page.

    These include: creating a new Logs directory, running the PrevX utility (which is supposed to check and correct something like 10 or so possible causes of the problem), check the Shell setting in the registry, many other things that I can't recall right this instant.

    I've spoken with the owner of the machine and she asked if there was any way that I could install either XP or Win7 on the machine. I just checked the LG website and they do show full driver support for Windows XP, so I think that is the way I'm going to go. The machine's owner has never liked Vista anyway and now sees this as a golden opportunity to get rid of it.

    The worry that I have is that even if I fix this particular problem, who's to say that it won't happen again. All those millions of hits in Google when searching out "vista black screen" make me (and her) extremely wary. An OS change seems like a good idea to me as well.

    I will take an image of the boot partition before I wipe it, though. That does give me the opportunity to tackle it again sometime in the future.

    I truly appreciate all the suggestions that everyone has made. Even though I didn't fix the problem, your support made it easier and less frustrating.

    Many thanks!

    dwayne

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    I'd strongly recommend Windows 7 over XP. Just backup her data first and do a clean install. If you have any driver issues most likely a Vista driver will work.

    Joe

  15. #14
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    In my experience dealing with Vista since it came out on many machines, when what you are saying happens:

    1) Your boot block is bad. In this case a boot from a Vista disk and repairing boot will fix it.

    2) A USB item connected to the computer is stopping it from booting. Disconnect all USB items and try booting again.

    3) It has gone into hibernation and as it is a laptop, either crashed or the battery died while in hibernation if on battery only. You need to delete the hibernation file and boot again. I recommend taking the drive out and attaching it to another computer, get rid of that hibernation file and putting it back.

    4) You have a rootkit that has gone crazy. You need to go over it with a GOOD antivirus. Everyone has their favourite. In my constant checks and rechecks, AVG free comes in second and Sophos first but Sophos is costly if you have only ONE computer as the price normally includes 3 licences. After checking it with your favourite antivirus, have Malwarebytes anti Malware on your clean system with laptop drive connected to it and check with that for any nasties.

    5) You have a ram chip that is partially working. Easy to check if you have one dud ram chip and I guess you know how so I wont go on about it.

    6) As others have said, a driver problem, one that is either your graphics chip or not. You can do yourself a favour, here and attach an external monitor while booting. While this rarely helps, on occasion it has given me the answer because SOMETHING has gone wrong in the graphics display and it didnt turn up until an external monitor was attached. You can also try moving the mouse off the borders of the screen. If it goes out of site and out the window next your computer and frightens your cat in the yard, then there is a fair chance that you have an extended display and that you are seeing only part of it.

    7) Your user profile is history. Can you boot safe mode with a monitor also attached? You may be able to get in that way or if the profile is hashed, you may be able to logon as Admin and fix it. If you dont have the admin password, you can always boot from a CD from an Ophcrack ISO and get the password that way. Actually, try booting from that anyway. If it works fine it answers some questions for you straight away.

    8) You have a physically damaged sector on your hard drive. Easily fixed by doing a full (5 level) check of the laptop hard drive while attached to another computer. Actually, in some cases like yours with Vista, this is the first thing I have done and all worked as it should after that.

    9) When all that fails, I always go with a repair from a boot CD or depending on who made the laptop it is sometimes possible to restore Windows to factory condition without killing off any data by booting from the restore partition.

    10) When all else fails, I find a sledge hammer cures all! ;-}

    Greg.

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    Black Screen of Death

    I recently had this same problem with the black screen and cursor, although it was after the user logged in. I was able to get to the task manager, but not the desk stop. I rebooted, pressed F8 and Repair Computer. I then restored to a point when the PC had installed Vista Service Pack 2. There seemed to be something (probably video related) installed on the users computer that did not work well with the Service Pack. After restoring to that restore point, it has worked fine. SP 2 will not be installed on that computer in the future. I am preparing to move that user to Win7.

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