Troubleshooting if your computer turns on but the screen is black
To find out if you have a hardware issue with your computer or your monitor, you can try testing the monitor with another device. If the monitor works with another device, your issue may be with the computer, and you can try the strategies outlined in this article. But if your monitor still doesn’t work, your issue may be a hardware fault with the monitor, and it may need to be fixed or replaced.
Some devices use beep codes or LEDs to signal malfunctions if the display can’t show the error. You’ll need to listen to the number and length of beeps or check the LED color. Then refer to your manufacturer’s user guide to identify the issue. This may help you determine which of the solutions you should start with in this post.
How to fix display issues
Here are eight strategies to try getting your display to work again. If you have any concerns, it’s always a good idea to consult with a professional. Missteps from trying to troubleshoot may make it more difficult to recover data if it gets to that point.
1. Wake the device or restart graphics drivers
If you have a Windows PC and your screen is black or the display isn’t working, the first thing to try is a keyboard shortcut to either wake the device or restart the graphics drivers. Here are two shortcuts to try:
- Wake the screen. Press Windows logo key + P or Ctrl + Alt + Del.
- Restart the graphics drivers. Press Windows logo key + Ctrl + Shift + B.
2. Ensure cables are connected and working
The next troubleshooting step is to make sure all of your cables are connected and working, like your VGA and HDMI cables. Check that your cables are connected to the graphics card, not the motherboard. Also, be sure to check the monitor’s power cord and power supply unit.
3. Disconnect all peripherals
Sometimes peripheral devices, like webcams and external storage drives, can cause display issues. If you have any peripherals plugged in, disconnect all of them and restart your computer. If your issue is resolved, you can reconnect these devices one by one to see which one might be the cause.
4. Perform a hard reset
Sometimes, residual or static electricity can be stored on your system’s board capacitors, causing problems when you try to boot up. A hard reset helps by draining this residual power.
Here’s how to perform a hard reset on your computer:
- Turn off the computer.
- Disconnect the power cable. (For laptops, you’ll also have to remove the battery.)
- Disconnect all external devices, like USB drivers, printers, webcams, and media cards.
- Press and hold the power button for 15 to 20 seconds. This drains the residual power.
- Reconnect the power cable. (For laptops, you’ll also replace your battery.)
- Reboot the computer.
5. Update graphics drivers
Your computer display may show a black screen if you have a corrupted graphics driver. To test the screen, connect your computer to another monitor and see if it works normally. If it does, try downloading the latest graphics driver and chipset drivers for your computer. Then, reattach the original monitor and try powering it on.
On a Microsoft Windows computer, you can use Windows Update to update your graphics drivers. Here’s how to do it:
- Open the Start menu.
- Click on “Settings.”
- Select “Windows Update” from the menu.
- Click “Check for Updates.”
- Install any available driver or software updates.
6. Reset BIOS settings
If your computer works with another monitor, another possible cause for your display issue is your computer’s Basic Input/Output System (BIOS). Your BIOS is responsible for activating everything the computer needs to boot up. Resetting your BIOS settings will restore them to the last saved configuration, which could fix whatever setting may be configured wrong.
Resetting your BIOS settings doesn’t erase data from your hard drive, but it can affect how your hardware is configured if you altered your BIOS settings before. Only proceed with this step if you feel confident in your understanding of these settings.
Reset from the BIOS interface
One way to reset your BIOS is from the BIOS interface. If power is going to your monitor, you may be able to access this interface even if the screen is initially black.
Here’s how to reset your BIOS to its factory settings:
- Turn on the computer.
- Tap the F2 key until “Entering Setup” appears. If the F2 key doesn’t work, your device may have this command assigned to a different key. Check your device’s user guide to find out which key.
- Reset the BIOS to factory defaults. How you do it might vary depending on your computer, but here are three common methods:
- Clicking the “Load defaults” button.
- Pressing the F9 key to load default settings.
- Pressing the Alt+F keys to load default settings.
- Press the Esc key and select “Save and exit” or “Exit.”
- Press the Enter key to save all changes and exit the BIOS setup screen.
- Your computer should automatically restart.
Reset by reseating the CMOS battery
A more technical way to reset the BIOS is removing and replacing the Complementary metal-oxide-semiconductor (CMOS) battery from your motherboard, if it has one. The CMOS battery is the power supply that motherboards use to save the BIOS settings, so reseating it will reset the settings.
Here’s how to reseat your CMOS battery to reset your BIOS settings:
- Turn off the computer and disconnect the power cable from the computer. (For laptops, you’ll also want to disconnect the main battery.)
- Remove the computer cover.
- Locate the CMOS coin-cell battery.
- Carefully disconnect the coin-cell battery from the system board.
- Press and hold the power button for 10 to 20 seconds to drain residual power.
- Replace the coin-cell battery in the system board.
- Close the computer cover.
- Reconnect the power cable to the computer. (For laptops, you’ll also want to replace the main battery.)
- Turn on the computer.
- A warning message will appear stating that the date and time is not set.
- Press the F2 key to enter the BIOS screen.
- Set the date and time according to your time zone.
- Save and exit the BIOS screen.
7. Reseat memory modules
Reseating refers to when you remove a component and then put it back into the same slot. It can solve technical issues caused by loose connections.
Loose RAM sticks might cause your computer to have startup errors. But, just like with the CMOS battery, reseating these components can help fix those connections.
- Here’s how to reseat your RAM sticks:
- Turn off your computer.
- Remove the power cable.
- Open the case or computer cover.
- Remove the RAM and then reseat it back in its place.
If you have multiple memory modules, it may be worth reseating each component, or switching their slots. If you notice your RAM is dusty, you can try using an eraser to clean it.
8. Check individual components
If you built your PC yourself, you’re probably familiar with each of its components. You might want to check each component individually to make sure you’re not dealing with a hardware issue.
An issue with your display could be caused by the CPU, motherboard, RAM, power supply, or graphics card (also called video card) not being properly connected. Try reseating all of these to make sure they’re connected. You can also try using them in another computer to check they’re working properly.
The problem could be caused by any small part related to a component too. For example, the CPU plug from the power supply could be plugged into the CPU socket the wrong way, causing an issue even if the components themselves are functioning properly.
If you don’t feel comfortable with doing this yourself, you can contact customer support for your device or take it to a professional.
What to do after your display starts working
Once you get your display to work again, you should:
Update the operating system and software. On a Windows computer, you can use Windows Update to do this.
Run an antivirus program. This will detect and remove any viruses or malware.
Taking these steps helps ensure that your device is up to date and functioning properly. Also, keeping your device clean and free of dust and debris will help keep it in good working order.
Recover data from your computer
It’s stressful when you turn your computer on and can’t get the display to work. But even if you’re encountering a black or blank screen, your data may not be lost.
Whether it’s a hardware issue or a software one, the professionals at Secure Data Recovery have the experience and expertise to recover data from virtually any device. If you’re feeling unsure or worried about data loss, bring your computer to one of our experts, and we’ll help you get your important files back.