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Windows 7: Black screen, blinking cursor

12 Mar 2010   #1

Win 7 - Mac OS X - Linux
Black screen, blinking cursor

I have already posted at the Expert Exchange, but I am getting no traction there so I am thinking of reposting here.

All the tech spec are in my post below, but I wanted to summarize the problem so that it wasn't such a chore to read:

Basically, I had 3 drive, each with one OS: Win XP, Vista 64 and Win 7 64

For some reason the Drive with XP crashed and it's dead. Now I am trying to revive my Win 7 Disk but all I get is the same blinking cursor on a black screen. Each time the repair disk that came with my Win 7 upgrade tells me that everything is OK but each time I try to reboot I end up on the blinking cursor.

The reason the machine crashed is pretty clear: The win X{P drive was booting the rest of the OSs. Now that's gone the Vista and win7 drives don;t have a valid boot loader. The repair disk seems to think everything is fine, but it isn't.

It has been suggested to me to use BCEDIT : BCDEDIT - How to Use

But in iorder to use it it would have to be installed on the disk.

Does anyone have any ideas? Thank you.

My original Post from EE
I have had my rig for almost 3 years. It started out as a
Systemax Venture VX2 -
Processor: Intel® Core2 QUAD Q6600 @ 2.40GHz (2397 MHz)
Motherboard: Intel DG965WH ATX Motherboard w/Gigabit LAN

Passed thought
Vista Ultimate 64 bit with 8GB on a dual boot

and finally ended up as a :
Windows 7 Professional, 64bit, 8GB (OCZ Vista Upgrade Edition Dual Channel 4096MB PC6400 DDR2 800MHz)

Each OS has been mounted on its own Hard Drive. As I upgraded I kept the OS and the Drive and added a new one.

Yesterday morning, I sat at my desk and a blank screen with a blinking cursor at the top left corner welcomed me.


upon restarting the BIOS screen came on but it was frozen. There is a number on the lower right corner of the BIOS screen that usually runs by, but it wasn't moving. Basically, there was no sign of intelligent life in there. No F key had any effect on anything. (F2 should take me to setup)

I am not a total moron when it comes to hardware and software and I have a friend that does this for a living so I called him.

We first tried the obvious, to no avail. Then we started taking everything off the rig so it would run as bare bones as possible. No Video card, no peripherals, no modems, etc.

Finally, I reset the motherboard with the jumper. After that at least I was able to go on to the dreaded blinking cursor, but more importantly I was able to get to the BIOS set up screen.

There I realized that we couldn't see any of the drives. We went through a few more setting in the BIOS (I am making this as brief as I can) until I decided to make it even more bare bone. I unhooked everything inside and changed power supply with another computer I have. Power supply was OK and I started running 1 hard drive at the time against the BIOS screen. This is where things started getting interesting:

These are the drives I had in the machine at meltdown time:

1) Seagate Velociraptor, 10,000rpm with Win 7
2) Maxtor 500GB with Windows Vista 64
3) Maxtor 250 GB with Win XP pro
4) Seagate 1.5TB no OS (This is my document drive - I keep no documents on my OS drives)

Running each drive separately gave me some interesting results:

1) Seagate : Could not see in BIOS and got blinking cursor
2) Maxtor 500GB : Could not see in BIOS and got blinking cursor
3) Maxtor 250GB : Could not see in BIOS and got blinking cursor
4) Seagate 1.5TB could see but got "No Operating system error" when trying to boot up (for a time I was not sure which was which because it was cramped in there but I kept notes)

So at this point I run to Fry's and I bought a SATA enclosure to see what the drive's were doing.

I attached the drives to both my Mac and my Laptop with Vista. These are the results:

1) Seagate Velociraptor: Run fine all files safe and sound
2) Maxtor 500GB with Windows Vista 64: Run fine all files safe and sound
3) Maxtor 250 GB with Win XP pro: Run but did not mount. On the laptop actually made a clunking sound
4) Seagate 1.5TB : Run just fine

At this point it was clear what happened:

1) For some reason my oldest drive failed
2) Since I installed 3 OS on top of each other, the Win XP disk actually contained the Boot.ini file that controlled the boot of the other drives. Once that was gone the other drives did not know where to boot from
3) This was confirmed by a later Windows repair I performed were both the Vista and the Win7 drives resulted having missing or corrupted Boot files or sectors (I wish I kept better notes - more on that later)

Once I figured all that out, I tried again to mount my OS disks in my rig, minus the XP disk. Once again I get the blinking cursor but at least now the BIOS is able to see them all.

I have now repaired the Win7 disk several times:

1) At first windows repair fixed it and made me restart without giving me any choice in the matter.
Result: black screen as before

2) The second attempt it let me choose the repair method. I choose to perform a repair (first choice in the repair window) and came up with an error saying that the boot files (or sectors, or blocks) were corrupted or missing and that it fixed them
Result: Ditto

3) The third time, far from being a charm, I performed the repair again and I got this:

Boot selector code for system disk partition is corrupt

Repair Action: Boot sector repair
Result: completed successfully Error code= 0x0

But it didn't work. Whenever I try to boot I still get the dreaded black screen with the blinking cursor.

My next step is to go ahead and perform and more complete repair of the installation. But before I do that, at the risk of messing things up further, I wanted to ask people here if anyone has had any experience like this and what you have done to fix it.

At some point we thought the SATA channels were bust, since we couldn't see the drives (all but one). but that is no longer true.

I know that I am spent. Thank god I have my Mac and my laptop that are both pretty powerful machines, so I can continue to work, but most of my software is highly tricked out and set up "just so" working on a backup machine, even if 80% of the software is the same, takes me a lot longer.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
12 Mar 2010   #2

Windows 7 x64 finally!

conticreative, remove the XP drive from your system, run the repair install 3 times and let us know.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
13 Mar 2010   #3

Win 7 - Mac OS X - Linux
Dark Screen blinking cursor: repair win7 boot

Thank you for the replay. I run the Repair drive many more times than 3 times, but I did it because each time it would not work. How exactly does that work?

As far as the XP disk, it has failed and I found that out when I try using it as a USB drive with my Mac and laptop. I have never put it back into the computer.

Note: My computer is currently totally bare bones: no drives, no usb anything connected, no video card, no disks except the ones I need and then 1 at a time

When I tried the repair on the Win7 disk. Each time it says it's fixed. Each time I try to boot off it but it won't boot. Otherwise it recognized the OS and tells me everything is dandy.

I have not tried the repair 3 times in a row. I did try many more than 3 times, but each time I tried to boot off the disk, restarted, run the repair again, tried to boot, restart, run the repair, boot off the disk and so on. Does that count? If not I'll do it again.

Anyway, the last thing I did was to install a new copy of win7 in the drive formerly with Vista in an unused partition. That went very well, so at least my computer works.
Now the issue is to try to revive my dead win7 (let's call it win7-1).

What options do I have at this point? Right now, I have both disks in a drive enclosure attached to my mac so I can take a good look at the files. They all seem to be there, so the issue is one of corruption, not missing files.

Can I boot off the new Win7 disk (let's call it Win7-2) with the win7-1 disk as a slave and do something with the repair disk?
Maybe I can try to do a upgrade install on the old win7-1? What is left?
When you do an upgrade restore, can you do it on the OS that is not the one you booted from?

I really would prefer to get to my original win7-1 because I have so many programs I would have to install and configure again it would take me days. I am a web developer and I have the Adobe Suite, MS Office, Open Office, fIREFOX, cHROME, ETC.dozens of other customized programs and utilities. I have them all documented but having done that work recently when I went from Vista to Win7, I am not looking forward to it. Firefox alone would take me more than an hour. Let alone Photoshop, Illustrator and especially Dreamweaver. I am writing a book about Dreamweaver and dynamic website building and I need to have it set up just so. I actually had to edit scores of XML files to make it behave. (I guess before I wipe out anything IO will save some of my config files on my Mac so I can at least copy the changes)

Anyway, one last question: since I am looking at the "boot" folder on both old win7 and the new win7, and especially if I am about to lose my win7-1, could I see what happens if I rename the folder "boot" to "boot-old" on win7-1" then copy the "boot" folder from, win7-2 and paste it into the same place.

I know they are binary files and probably they are dependent on the registry, but is there even a remote chance that may work? What do I have to lose?

Thank you for your help. I am going to try the repair 3 times in a row staying in the CD mode, just in case. feels like I am clicking my heels to go to Oz...
My System SpecsSystem Spec

13 Mar 2010   #4

Win 7 - Mac OS X - Linux

One more interesting thing I found out comparing the two installation of Win7:

The New Win7 (win7-2) has a single "boot" folder under windows/boot
The old (non bootable) win7 (win7-1) has 2 boot folders. One is top level C:\Boot and another is under C:\Windows\Boot

What is going on? Could it be that the c:\Boot folder is the one messing things for me? in that case, is there something I can do to delete it or rename it? My mac can see all the files and folders, but I can't touch them, no matter what I do. But that's something I may be able to fix somehow iof eliminating one of the boot folders would do the trick. (Why the Mac should care about Windows files is another Mystery to me...)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Mar 2010   #5

Windows 7 x64 finally!

CC, is the partition where Windows 7-1 is installed marked as active? Can you boot into Win 7-2 and post a picture of the disk management screen (Right click on Computer, Manage and Disk management)?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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