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The good news is that Mark has a solid workaround that ensures that you don’t have to reinstall Vista after it boots to one of these black screen of death issues.
The bad news is the underlying trigger is still not known/understood at this time.

Which is still the bigger concern in my book as until we get to the bottom of what ‘this’ is, it won’t get it’s ultimate fix and may impact Windows 7.  “Something” is triggering this but it’s not known at this time what “it” is.  What I can tell you is that in all of my Vista machines 32bit, 64bit, desktop, laptop, clients that have it installed, I’ve not personally seen it.  Nor am I seeing it bubble up a huge amount in the patching communities.  So I’m not convinced that this is specifically caused by Vista all by itself.

So here’s where I’d like to ask a favor.  If you have been impacted by the “Black screen of death”, I need you to ensure that the body count is counted by either setting up a SRX or posting in the managed newsgroups.  We need to make sure that the “pain” is heard.  Next, if you can, download the Sydi server inventory script and email me the output (  

If you are like me and have never EVER seen this issue as well in ANY Vista you have under your management, can you let me know that as well at the same email address?  What I’m trying to see is the pattern between those that are being impacted and those that aren’t.

There is a trigger.  The question is what?

I’m not buying that it’s “just Vista”.  If it were I’d see it consistently in Patching communities and I’m not.  So until proven guilty, I want to find out more.


16 Responses to Vista Black screen of death — we still need a reason

  1. Joe Raby says:

    Sometimes on bootup after patching or changing system settings, some people have called in to mention that Windows shows a “black screen with only a mouse cursor”. I’ve seen a few systems like this. In all cases, Windows Vista would start to boot, but would sit at the black screen before playing the logo animation. I’d leave it for a minute. In all cases the user just didn’t wait long enough and just rebooted the system way too early. Most systems were underpowered too.

  2. Joe Raby says:

    Another user was loading USB speaker drivers, and Windows Vista (32-bit) took almost 3 minutes to boot up afterwards (!!). It was an OK system – Core 2 Duo E6420, 2GB of RAM, OneCare running on it and up to date, and no bad stuff on it (user doesn’t use Bittorrent or P2P filesharing or go to untrustworthy sites, etc). The user shut the system off after waiting about 30 seconds. After getting a successful bootup from waiting awhile, every boot after that went fine.

  3. Dean says:

    So what do those of us who bought computers that only came with factory restore disks and not real Vista disks do ?

    And yesterday I finally realized why they only give you factory restore disks. It’s not just a tech support thing. It’s because Microsoft only gives certain Vista things ( like the Wireless Feature Pack ) to OEM’s so if you reloaded Vista from a Vista disk there would be no way to reload these OEM only things. So Microsoft is fricking things up for us.

    This black screen of death is the same thing that used to happen sometimes when you installed the Novell client on Windows like 5-7 years ago. You would reboot and the machine would hang at a black screen with the curser blinking in the upper left. Sometimes if you waited long enough ( long enough was sometimes like 15 minutes) the machine would eventually finish booting.

  4. Sohail Patel says:

    What will be the suspected Pstches causing this?
    or any other reason behind that??

    We must know the root cause to stop that “Black screen of Vista” issue to occur again. Even if we know the resolution.

  5. Fish says:

    I’m afraid this post probably won’t help anyone, just throw fuel on the fire. Heck, it might get you looking in the right place…

    I’m troubleshooting this right now on my niece’s machine. If you take a look at:
    you will find that there are many symptoms and (sometimes) solutions to KSOD. Even on the first link posted above (you know, where they tell you the “Solution” to the problem…), the commentors posted that the RPC service wasn’t broken on their machines. Others have posted (in many different forums) that the Event Log Service, the “ProfileGuid” registry entry, ATI and NVIDIA Drivers, were the problems on their machines. There is a post from Microsoft saying that it’s caused by a problem with NTFS and that the workaround(!!!!!) is to reinstall:

    On a limb here… Could the problem be related to WGA or DRM?
    Anti-Piracy: Microsoft Turning Screens Black
    (yeah, I know it’s different, but its fun to consider…)

    My understanding is that with DRM/PVP, Microsoft can (permanently?) disable/cripple your hardware (Graphics cards and the like) if it determines that your encryption keys have been hacked. Some have suggested that faking these messages from Microsoft might make for an awesome virus!

    Back to the issue at hand:
    This KSOD is a nasty problem. I would run the “Sydi server inventory script”, but I can’t run anything in Vista right now… ;^)

    Long and short is that Ubuntu will replace micro$oft on this machine… :^)

    But I’ve got other relatives who run Vista, so a let’s find a solution to this show stopping bug!

  6. CowboyCrash says:

    It’s not just Vista that gets this error it is Server 2008 as well. Even having the install dvd’s does not always save you. I went through the repair steps started the command console and received: Windows Resource Protection could not start the repair service. Luckily enough this install is fairly new and the group in my company using it hasn’t put too much on it yet. So the re-install is not a hard ship yet but let me tell you there is nothing like facing a room of users and trying to explain what the heck a black screen of death is.

    I hope they can track down the root of these problems.

  7. Ricardo says:

    As far as i can see, none of those solutions solve the ksod om my Vista Ultimate.

    I checked everyting and all de registry keys are correct. The Filter keys,give me the windows, but when I press “yes”, no more windows appears.
    System restore, last known good conf, ctrl+alt+del, nothing works!

    Any more ideas?

    best regards and good lucky for all… 🙂

  8. David Gauld says:

    We’ve had this happen on 5 64bit based machines running 32bit Vista OEM. this frist login is fine but once you join the box to a domain you will get the “Black/Blue Screen of Death”.

    I’ve reinstalled Vista Business on one PC without joining to a domain and the OS boots up fast, but once you join it to a domain the black screen is back.

    We’ve called Microsoft and are still waiting for them to get back to us…

  9. Rick Darr says:

    I’m amazed this has been going on for over a year and the best Microsoft has to offer is do a reinstall.

    I have been running Vista for two years on a Presario desktop. Two days ago I ran a Microsoft Defender update. As it was downloading I put a DVD in to watch while i waited, a few minutes later everything froze and on reboot it was the dreaded Black Screen.

    None of the posted fixes have worked for me. I called HP support and they said they would gladly send me the Vista Discs…..for $143.00. *&*%@!&*$%#%#$%@

    It is apparent this can happen on a variety of machines and apparently has numerous causes. If anyone has aanother idea I’m all ears.


  10. Sohail Patel says:

    Worm \ Virus could be the reason.

    Resolution Provided by Microsoft to change registry value of Key:


    From Old Value: LocalSystem to New Value: NT AUTHORITY\NetworkService

    How that value change to LocalSystem , Only Virus\ Worm may change that value.

  11. Sohail Patel says:

    Worm \ Virus could be the reason.

    Resolution Provided by Microsoft to change registry value of Key:


    From Old Value: LocalSystem to New Value: NT AUTHORITY\NetworkService

    How that value change to LocalSystem , Only Virus\ Worm may change that value.

  12. Rick says:

    As I mentioned above there seems to be more than one thing that causes this. I checked my registry key and everything was fine. I also tried the other ‘fixes’ mentioned in other posts and nothing worked. One thing I did notice is that when I ran a boot repair CD all reports showed that the system was booted up. Luckily I was able to attach a USB drive and after shutting down and restarting then returning to the Dos prompt, was able to manually copy all my pertinant files. After that I used the HP restore that luckily was on the PC. It is 4 days later and I am still installing updates, adding programs, and fixing problems that come from a 2 year old Vista reinstall. I really feel bad for the common user, how many people are sitting out there right now without a clue what to do? I wonder.


  13. Sheka says:

    This happened on my laptop. I bought an iPod, never had one before, and suddenly the black screen of death started when I left the thing plugged in to charge. I unplugged the USB, and Vista started. It’s happened twice, same way now. I’m not sure if that’s the issue, but I hope it helps your analysis.

  14. xunt says:

    i have tried every fix imagined so far and nothing has worked, guess im just gonna have to back up what i can and format that shit.

  15. Big Jim says:

    According to M$
    CAUSE: This problem may occur because of file system corruption within the $Txf directory. This corruption causes a deadlock condition between the Transactional NTFS (TxF) process and the Autocheck process.

    WORKAROUND: To work around this problem, perform a clean installation or a parallel installation of Windows Vista.

    Reinstalling the OS is not a solution! There has to be some way to fix this.

  16. Smileynator says:

    Mine got this problem 2 days ago JUST after a windows vista update.. lucky? anyway a restoration point repaired it.. FOR NOW..