Home > Troubleshooting > The Black Screen of Death

The Black Screen of Death

On Sunday I was doing some updates on a workstation remotely.  When it rebooted, I wasn’t able to contact it again.  It wasn’t responding to anything, including pings.  I figured that when the employees arrived Monday morning, I’d call them, have them reboot the system again and all would be well.  Of course that would have been too easy.

As it turned out, the system would boot past the Vista blippy bar thing but not quite reach the orb thing.  So something was screwy.  I was still remote, so I instructed the employee to insert the Vista install DVD, boot to the repair console and do a system restore to the day prior to the updates.  No go, same response.  So I set up the employee on a spare computer and made plans to go onsite to do more troubleshooting.

When I arrived, I found the system with a black screen and a movable mouse cursor.  Ctrl-Esc and Ctrl-Alt-Del did nothing and a reboot into safe mode reached the same conclusion.  Next I booted to the Vista DVD again and tried Startup Repair which found nothing and tried restoring to an even earlier date which still failed.

Time to turn to the master resource, Google, where I found lots of folks in the same predicament, but few fixes and none that worked on this case.  Most had something to do with MagicISO and Roxio.  Now I was really getting ticked and started digging out the disks to prepare for a reinstall.  Since I had nothing to lose, I decided on a hail Mary and did a system restore to the earliest date in the list.  It worked!

The system booted up to the logon prompt finally!  Of course the computer’s password didn’t match the server, (see previous post), but with a local admin account, that was easily fixed by removing the computer from the domain and then adding it again.

Curiously, after I removed the computer from the domain and deleted the account on the server, I noticed that the system time on the computer was off by two hours!  Checking the event log, I found a bunch of security errors with the failure of the PC’s credentials.  But they didn’t start until the time I got to the logon prompt, so I don’t think the time difference had a bearing on the failure to boot.

Checking the application logs for the PC, I found that the only recent changes were a bunch of LogMeIn updates made by Zenith Infotech on Oct.24th.  (I had restored the system to Oct. 19)  Checking the logs, the system had not been rebooted until I did the system updates Nov 9th.  So it looks like LMI was the culprit.  Now I need to reboot all the systems to make sure they don’t get stuck as well while I still have a system restore window.

Categories: Troubleshooting
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