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  1. #1
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    My PC shows black screen first time I boot

    I have a three year old Acer Aspire X3200 desktop running Vista Home Premium sp2. I keep it updated using secunia and haven't downloaded any new software recently. My custom is to switch it on first thing when I get up, go and shower then come back and drink coffee while I read my emails but yesterday when I came back, although the drive was lit to show that it was switched on, the monitor was still black. I switched off and back on again and got the message saying that Windows had shut down improperly and did I want to boot normally etc. I did and everything worked as usual. The only strange thing was that all of the usernames and passwords that normally appear automatically when I login to places had been wiped.

    I ran a complete disk check during the day which came out clean.

    This morning, again I had the black screen and had to switch off at the button then on again. Windows started normally the second time and did not even ask me how I wanted to boot up and my usernames, passwords etc have not been wiped this time. It seems to be working perfectly well apart from this strange failure to load the first time.

    Can anyone offer an explanation? Is this a sign that it's about to crash completely and should I be looking for a new computer?

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  3. #2
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    I would definitely clean out all temp files, temp internet files etc (a tool such as CCleaner might help with this chore), defrag the HD, then create a full system Image just in case something is failing.

    Have you had any updates in the last few days? Has ANYTHING changed in the last few days, other than this strange problem? You might want to get a system monitoring app such as HWMonitor to check on system voltages and temps, etc.

    If nothing has changed recently just prior to this strange behavior then you might have a hardware problem. It might be worth while to visit the Acer site to see if there might be a Bios update. Speaking of the Bios, there should be a small battery (looks like a watch battery) on the MB. It might be time to replace the battery. They are a few dollars (less than $5), don't know what that equates to in pounds but worth replacing. If you have not changed anything in the Bios manually, the default values when you replace the battery should be fine. Replace this battery before flashing the Bios if an update is available.

    Hope these suggestions help.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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    sylviesinc (2011-11-27)

  5. #3
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    If the PC failed to ask for usernames or passwords on one occasion, it may be a corruption int he user logon process - more especially, a problem with the user profile.

    Follow Ted's suggestions to rule out anything BIOS related, but I would seriously consider taking a full disk image backup asap if you don't already have one.

    Having taken a image backup, then look at the event viewer (click the Start button and in the Start Search box, type "Event", then click on Event Viewer at the top of the menu - click accept if a UAC prompt appears). In Event Viewer, go to Windows Logs, then to system and look for errors or alerts at the time of the boot up and login process.

    If it shows a corruption during login, you might workaround that by creating a new user and password and copying data from one account to another. However, it may not solve the root cause which may be a disk corruption, despite the initial disk check (I presume that was from within Windows?). If you think you have a corruption on the disk, you could try using chkdsk /r from an administrative command prompt.

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    sylviesinc (2011-11-27)

  7. #4
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    Red face

    Thank you for the prompt replies and the advice.

    Since opening the case to replace a battery is a major undertaking for me, I decided to go with the deep clean first. I used CCleaner and cleaned everything. The registry showed only 3 errors but I used the fixit for that as well. I defragged using Defraggler and was surprised at the amount of disc recovered. I had only a quarter of my C drive free before and I now have half! Defraggler also tells me that the disc health is good and the temperature 54 degrees.

    I checked event viewer and there are no errors showing (apart from MSE failing to update which I will address) and I have made an image with Macrium reflect. On reboot everything loaded nicely so, fingers crossed that the problem has been solved. If it recurrs tomorrow morning I'll try the bios update and battery replacement.

    Thanks again.

  8. #5
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    I have had two odd occasions when I logged in to my laptop and everything on my desktop wasn't there and it was like my first login. I just logged out and rebooted and got everything back. This means Windows does that, I have seen it happening. Since it happened once or twice, I really didn't worry too much about it. I think there must have been an issue on windows part, with the reading of the profile info.
    So what to do here? I would probably just run a chkdsk, to make sure everything would be ok after the unexpected shutdown and if the profile loaded properly on the following boot, I wouldn't worry too much about it. I would keep an updated backup of system (which I always do with my systems anyway).

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    sylviesinc (2011-11-27)

  10. #6
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    Thanks, this was a proper black screen as though the montor had died, but since cleaning as suggested it hasn't happened again. I did run a chkdsk and all was fine. I'll know more tomorrow morning when I switch on as usual. I'm hoping that it was just something in the junk that stopped Windows loading properly.

  11. #7
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    We're all hoping for the best. Please let us know what happens.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


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    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

  12. #8
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    I switched on this morning and although it went through it's normal opening sequence, the Windows sign never appeared and I was faced with a black screen again. I manually switched off and on again and the message asking me whether I wanted to start in normal or safe mode briefly appeared before another black screen. Third time lucky and this message remained long enough for me to choose normal start up and it loaded. I was able to log straight into here as well so my logins to external websites haven't been wiped as they were the first time it happened.

    I plan to leave it switched on until I can ask my brother to change the battery that you mentioned and I'll look for a Bios update.

  13. #9
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    It seems to me that either the shutdown is not completing, or there is a failed boot. Which one is it?

  14. #10
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    When I switched on this morning I got the usual command message about Acer and even saw the Windows loading bar at the bottom of the monitor so it had shut down as usual last night and was attempting to boot up. The next thing I usually see is the Windows logo in the middle of the monitor screen but the screen remained black. It seems to be the first boot in the morning that fails because I have rebooted during the day without a problem.

    (I checked the Acer site and the only Bios update is dated 2008 and comes with dire warnings not to use without instructions from Acer technicians so I'll leave it!)

    My next step is to contact my brother (who is in the computer hardware business) on Wednesday and get him to advise about the battery.

  15. #11
    Bronze Lounger DrWho's Avatar
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    I would go ahead and change that CMOS battery. The first one can go at any time, the second one usually lasts for 4 - 5 years.
    Then I would take out any removable RAM and thoroughly clean the edge connector, with a soft cloth and Alcohol. Just the fact that the PC does not totally refuse to boot up, but only when it's cool, denotes more of a hardware problem than a Windows problem.

    It should be totally fixable.

    I was given a Toshiba Satellite laptop, that got really funky with the bootups, and finally wouldn't boot at all.
    I found the problem to be with the CMOS battery which was a NiCad twin cell battery, that just would not hold a charge anymore.
    I replaced that with a Lithium 3v cell and now the little computer boots up just fine.

    Good Luck,
    The Doctor
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    Thanks for the input. My brother thinks it's unlikely to be the battery so I think I'll start with a thorough clean of the inside in case dust is affecting the fans and go from there.

  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrWho View Post
    I would go ahead and change that CMOS battery.
    ....
    Just the fact that the PC does not totally refuse to boot up, but only when it's cool, denotes more of a hardware problem than a Windows problem.

    It should be totally fixable.

    Agreed.

    @sylviesinc: How cold has it been in Suffolk recently? I don't think below freezing, but maybe cold enough for condensation?

    I saw a machine a couple of years ago that was running in a agricultural environment. Come November it exhibited all kinds of weird boot up problems. I went over early one morning to find it covered in condensation. Put a fan heater in the building and fixed the problem overnight.

  19. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinto Tech View Post

    @sylviesinc: How cold has it been in Suffolk recently? I don't think below freezing, but maybe cold enough for condensation?

    I saw a machine a couple of years ago that was running in a agricultural environment. Come November it exhibited all kinds of weird boot up problems. I went over early one morning to find it covered in condensation. Put a fan heater in the building and fixed the problem overnight.
    It's never cold in our living room which is where the computer lives and Suffolk has in fact been unseasonably warm so I don't think condensation will be the problem, but thanks for the input. (Acer didn't recognise the serial number I gave them so I'll have to open up the case to get the number of the battery. I'm hoping to do this at the weekend so will live with the inconvenience of having to boot twice and login to all my forums again each day!)

  20. #15
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    As long as you have the PC open. the battery is easier to replace than on a wrist watch. I would definitely replace this as well. You have nothing to lose.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-12-01 at 03:47.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
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