FIX: Windows XP Screen Goes Black

Windows XP is, at this point, a fairly old operating system. However, there are still a decent number of users who still use it, and some of them have been facing a peculiar problem. That is, when they turn their computers on, they see the Windows XP startup screen, then the screen goes black, rendering their computers useless.

This issue plagues quite a few users, and the root cause behind it is still unknown. There are a few possible causes, such as explorer.exe not loading, power issues, and even video card driver issues, but none has been confirmed as the definitive solution.

There are a couple of things that you can try. They’ve all been reported to work for various users, and which one works mostly depends on what is causing the problem in your specific case. You can go ahead and try them one by one, and see which of them helps you with the issue.

Method 1: Perform a power reset (laptop only)

Performing a power reset will discharge any electrical build up, and as mentioned earlier, that might be one of the possible causes for this issue. Performing a power reset is fairly easy, so read on to see the steps.

  1. Unplug the laptop from its power source.
  2. Remove the laptop’s battery. You might have issues with this if your laptop’s battery isn’t removable, because in that case you will need to disassemble the laptop. If this is the case, move on to the next method, and come back to this one as a last resort.
  3. Hold the power button for between 30 seconds and 2 minutes. This will drain all electricity from the laptop.
  4. Put the battery back in.
  5. Power on the laptop. At this point, it should boot up just fine and you’ll be able to use it again.

Method 2: Start explorer.exe manually

Sometimes your computer actually boots up, but explorer.exe doesn’t start, and all you get is a black screen and your mouse cursor, but you can’t really do anything with the computer. At this point, you will need to start up explorer.exe manually.

  1. When faced with a black screen, press Ctrl, Alt, and Delete simultaneously on your keyboard. At this point, you will either see the Task Manager directly, or a menu offering options to Lock Computer, Shut Down, Change Password, or open Task Manager. Regardless of which one appears, you need to open the Task Manager.
  2. At the bottom, there is a ‘New Task.’ Click it and you will see a pop-up window with a text box.
  3. Type ‘explorer‘ into the text box and either press ‘Enter,’ or click ‘OK‘ on your keyboard. Everything should be back to normal now.

Method 3: Boot into safe mode and check the video card driver

If the video card driver is corrupt, booting into safe mode successfully, which boots with generic drivers, will tell you that. If this is the case, you will need to reinstall the drivers for your video card.

  1. Before Windows XP boots, continuously press F8 or Shift. This will lead you to a menu with several boot options. Choose ‘Safe Mode.’ Check if this resolves the issue, and if it does, proceed to the next step.
  2. Press the Windows key on your keyboard, and open Control Panel from the start menu.
  3. Open the ‘System‘ and navigate to ‘Hardware‘. Then, open ‘Device Manager’.
  4. Under Display Adapters, find your video card and right-click it. Then, choose Uninstall from the menu. Follow the wizard until you have uninstalled the drivers. Afterwards, reboot your computer. Upon booting up, your computer will utilize the generic driver. It will also detect if there’s a missing driver and will manually install it.
  5. If it doesn’t, however, it signifies complete corruption of the driver. In such a case, you will need to download it manually from the manufacturer’s website. To achieve this, refer to step 1 from this method, but choose ‘Safe Mode with Networking‘ instead to ensure internet access.
  6. Go to the website of the manufacturer of your video card, and download the latest available drivers.
  7. Go to your Downloads folder, and install the drivers you just downloaded. Reboot once more, and the device should be working without any issues.

This is a fairly odd issue, but whatever the cause is, you can solve it by following any of the methods above. They are made to fit different situations, and you are bound to find one that will help you with your specific one.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.