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black screen, white cursor, Windows won't start


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#1
badPC-badPC

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I am trying to trouble-shoot a problem with my son't laptop, which is a 3yr-old Dell Studio running Vista. On startup, it shows the Dell spash screen then goes to a black screen with a white flashing cursor at the top left. I cannot do F8 to start Windows in safe mode.

About a month ago he was getting frequent popups claiming that there were disk errors, but I think that was some malware. I cleaned out a bunch of stuff (mainly using Spybot S+D) and after that it seemed to be fine. I did a chkdsk which did not report any disk problems. At that time I also copied all of his user files onto an external USB drive.

Apart from that, I don't know much about what led up to the current problem. I am sure he would not have installed new hardware or mucked around with system settings.

I have run all of the diagnostics from the Drivers & Utilities disk and the hardware seems completely fine.

I have used the AVG rescue CD to do a virus scan...it found a few and deleted them.

I have used the "repair startup problems" function on the Vista CD and it said there were no problems found.

But the system still does not start up.

The only thing I can think of to do next is completely re-install the OS, but I would like to avoid that if possible. Does anyone have suggestions for something less radical?
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#2
phillpower2

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Hi badPC-badPC
Try tapping one of the other F keys, try F5 first then F1, F2, F12 or possibly the Del key.
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#3
badPC-badPC

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F2 goes into the hardware setup utility and F12 allows you to boot from a CD instead of the HD.

F5 and Del don't do anything.
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#4
phillpower2

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I`m stumped then perhaps there is a problem with the F8 key, do you have or can
you loan a USB keyboard you can try?
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#5
badPC-badPC

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I tried using a USB keyboard and no effect. My assumption was that the Windows installation was busted...I wasn't thinking hardware.
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#6
phillpower2

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My assumption was that the Windows installation was busted

Whilst this is partially accurate it is not 100%, F8 is controlled by information on the BIOS chip
boot sequence and time and date settings for example, you can remove the HDD altogether but still be
able to get into the BIOS by pressing F8 on boot up, persevere with it and keep trying F8 you may just
catch it, frustrating I know but I have heard of people having a similar issue before.
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#7
badPC-badPC

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OK, I'll try it a few more times...

I am not sure if it means anything, but I'll mention it in case it rings any bells... When I go into the Vista repair console, there is an option to open a command shell, which I did and ran chkdsk on C: and there were no errors, BUT... at the end it says that it failed to write the logged messages to the event log with error 50. Not sure what that means...
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