Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
A machine that fails on boot is hard to diagnose long distance. There are two typical problem areas to look at first.
I have Windows 7 Professional, SP 1, 64 bit. I do all of the recommended updates. At about 50% of the time when I reboot on startup, the process hangs. I get the normal blue Windows 7 screen, but it never goes all the way to the login. The mouse pointer will move around the screen, but I'm not able to take any other action. I know of no other way to escape the situation than to power off with a hard shut down and when I restart, things usually progress normally, although I often have to restart from the black screen, "You didn't shut down Windows normally" or something like that. My understanding is that it's bad to shut my PC down that way, but I've found no other method to get things up and running again. I run Avira and Malwarebytes so hopefully my problem isn't related to a virus or malware. Any idea what might be going on with my system?
In this excerpt from Answercast #38, I look at a machine that's failing on boot and offer a few suggestions that may help isolate the problem.
Unfortunately, this particular symptom turns out to be incredibly difficult to diagnose remotely. I am going to throw out a couple of guesses, but in reality, they are just that; semi-educated guesses. There are two things I would consider:
One thing you might want to do is grab a copy of SpinRite and run SpinRite on that hard disk.
Here's my thinking: If a sector on the hard disk is going bad, then sometimes what can happen is, if it's in the right spot, it can be an intermittent kind of thing that could impact your ability to start the machine.
We've seen machines, or I've heard of machines, that have experienced exactly what you're seeing that a run of SpinRite will actually resolve (I shouldn't really say that the hard disk is going bad because the hard disk itself may be just fine after a run of SpinRite). But that's one of the things that comes to mind.
The good news about SpinRite is that, even though it is a $95 dollar program, if it doesn't help you they have a money-back guarantee.
The other approach that comes to mind is:
What's going on, when Windows is starting at that point, is it's in the process of loading drivers.
It's basically firing up all of the software that would interact with all the different pieces of hardware that are included on – or attached to – your computer.
So, one of the things that I would typically do in a case like this, is disconnect everything that's optional. Particularly external USB devices (anything that you don't need to keep the computer running) and see if that makes the problem go away.
That doesn't necessarily implicate the device drivers for those pieces of hardware, but they certainly cast some suspicion.
One by one, I would reattach those devices and then see if the problem returns.
As soon as it seems to return, associated with one specific device, then I would take a look at both the drivers for that device and the device itself.
I certainly would make sure that you have the latest and greatest drivers for that specific device; if it turns out to be something that you can isolate that way.
Otherwise, unfortunately, there's a raft of other things that could be affecting your system at startup time. Everything:
To the power supply.
To intermittent connections on the machine's motherboard.
It's really, really difficult to say. My money is actually on something software related with respect to the drivers.
The hard disk is an easy one to test. But otherwise, I'll probably end up
suggesting that you have a technician take a look at the machine in
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