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Windows 7: Windows 7 Repair Install screen black before install finished

23 Sep 2014   #1
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 
Screen goes black half way through Windows 7 Repair Install

Hi all

Half way through the Windows 7 Repair install the monitor drivers seem to have corrupted. The screen works fine up to the Windows logo on a black background, then the screen goes dead.

Everything is still working underneath, key presses seem to affect the hard disk, caps lock works, I can even hibernate with the sleep key, but I can't get Windows running so I can install the monitor drivers (or do anything else).

Repair Install did ask me to uninstall the ATI Catalyst drivers, but the screen worked fine after.


I have tried:
  • Restarting
  • Typing my Win 7 license key and pressing return
  • Connecting to an external monitor via HDMI
  • Booting from a USB and DVD Win7 installer disk and trying the Startup Repair, Restore, installing drivers (I think they only go into memory), etc.
  • As above but using the DOS prompt, copying fresh copies of the monitor driver files inf/monitor.pnf inf/monitor.inf and sys32/drivers/monitor.sys then rebooting
  • Trying every option in the BIOS (although nothing was promising - was hoping to turn off PnP but there was no option)
  • Trying a new repair install by booting from the Win7 disk - it boots, loads fine, but at the compatibility check demands I start Windows then run the installer from within Windows
Is there any way to avoid a fresh Windows install? All I need to do, I think, is install a different video driver, and I have full access to the file system.

Huge, huge, huge thanks for any leads at all, been on this a few days now and this Windows install unfortunately contains months of effort I can't port to another Windows install (VBox servers etc). I'll post here if I get anywhere.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Sep 2014   #2
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Sorry but a quick bump. I've edited to make it clearer - was writing the original at 5am cross-eyed after hours at the screen.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Sep 2014   #3
gregrocker

 

This behavior most often happens when the video card is outputted to a television or projector. You can enter Device Manager from boot to try to disable the erring device to see if it will allow Win7 to start normally to a VGA or HDMI monitor: Device Manager - Access During Windows 7 Installation

Check also in BIOS setup for monitor output settings.

Otherwise compare the install you have to the perfect install compiled in Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 as if it is the grossly inferior factory install or done much differently then you might want to invest now in a perfect install. Be sure to read the Special Note to Dell Owners at the end to preserve bootable diagnostics if they still function.

You'll avoid problems by installing only the display driver provided by Win7 installer or Updates, unless it only provides Standard VGA in which case I'd import the latest from the Dell Support Downloads webpage for your model and never the ATI or Nvidia bloatware package of it's driver. This is because OEM's often modify this driver which is vetted by MS before loading into Windows Update, and the bloatware package provides nothing but problems.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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24 Sep 2014   #4
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Some absolutely fantastic links, thank you very much indeed, although relevant only if I finally give up on trying to save my existing install, which I'm slowly resigning myself to. I tried running the device manager from the repair install but it wouldn't load and anyway would be working on the repair OS not the laptop OS I guess. I changed every BIOS setting, nothing worked and nothing relevant anyway. I never had the chance to install any custom drivers - this was with whatever driver Windows gives out of the box, so I am very happy to know about that Device Manager command if I do a fresh Windows install, assuming I can get far enough in the sequence of steps before the screen dies.

I do have a disk image of the Windows install shortly before I started the repair install. It includes all the problems I was trying to fix, but I could get any files - drivers etc - from it. Is there a way I can manually install a driver with only access to the file system? I could copy the files onto the Win7 boot USB drive, boot into repair, call the DOS command, and do whatever I like to the files - this is why it seems there must be a way!

Huge thanks once again for your very illuminating post, it'll come in very handy if/when I resign myself to a fresh install.

(The previous one was a Dell OEM one, I had lots of problems from day one, not sure whether it was hardware or OS, never had an OS need a repair install so quickly.)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #5
Imrankhan

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Hi,
You may try to load the display driver, before install and then proceed, to install.
DriverExtractor - driver recovery software
Try using this app to put the installed display driver onto a USB.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #6
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Another handy utility thanks. Do you know if this tool can extract from and install into a Windows install that cannot boot up? Or does it have to be run from within that booted Windows environment? That is exactly what I want to do, but the Windows install the driver is in (an image of the install previously), and the Windows install I want to install it into (the half-completed repair install), don't boot. Do you know if it can still help on a broken Windows file system?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #7
gregrocker

 

Please read again the steps for how drivers are handled in Win7 from Clean Reinstall - Factory OEM Windows 7 as they are not like XP at all. These steps are printed in red so they can't be missed. Win7 will provide the drivers for almost all devices during install and via Windows Update. Any still missing after all Updates are installed are normally easily found on the PC's Support Downloads webpage.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #8
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

Thanks for the advice gregrocker, but note that this is precisely the problem. Windows 7 repair install has automatically installed a driver for the monitor which turns the monitor off, preventing me from entering the Windows license key, which prevents me booting into Windows and accessing any driver functionality. The screen turned off half way through the repair install process. What I want to do is put the HDD into a SATA caddy, force-feed the half finished repair install with some drivers by accessing the file system manually, then resume the repair install at the point I enter a license key. I did get the repair install to download updates, although it only seemed to download a megabyte or so.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #9
gregrocker

 

What makes you think that Windows Update provided such a driver that would do that? I've never heard of such a thing and doubt it its the case unless you have found known cases of such behavior.

Plug in an external monitor to the VGA port on most laptops to see if the problem persists.

A Repair Install should not ask for a license key until afterwards when its time to activate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
26 Sep 2014   #10
technicaltitch

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
 
 

I have two theories. I'm not saying it was Windows Update, but the driver is something bundled with Windows, as at no point have I had any opportunity to intervene in the process. I initially thought it was corruption on the disk, but I've replaced the three driver files for the default monitor. My alternative theory (just from thinking about your question thanks) is that the repair install corrupted its registry when it was merging in the registry from my previous Windows install - it seems Win7 repair installs Windows then copies in everything from the old Windows (as opposed to XP where it seemed to just copy new Windows OS files over old Windows OS files).

I've tried HDMI - do you think VGA is more likely to work? I went to buy a VGA cable and the shop said VGA was no more likely to work than HDMI.

The repair install I believe has completed and just needs activating.

I have found nothing online from anyone with a similar problem for any monitor, let alone my specific one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Windows 7 Repair Install screen black before install finished




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