What You Should Do If Windows 10 Fails to Start

It is a dreaded moment when your PC suddenly starts crashing and won’t boot to the desktop. If this happened to you on your Windows 10 machine, then you will be pleased to know that Windows not booting is a common problem, and in most cases it can be fixed rather easily. Below we have listed the most common solutions to the Windows 10 not starting problem.

1. Could it Be a Monitor Issue?

It’s easy to conflate Windows not starting with your monitor not switching on. A telltale sign that it’s your monitor causing the issue is when, after booting, you hear your Windows intro jingle play but there’s no picture (on the other hand, you might not have a jingle, in which case it’s harder to tell).

how-to-fix-black-screen-pc-second-screen

To see if it’s actually your monitor causing problems, switch on your PC, then at around the time when you reckon Windows should have loaded, try pressing Win + P twice, then three times if that fails, to see if the picture comes on. It’s possible that your monitor was outputting to the wrong – or even non-existent display – and this keyboard shortcut could fix the issue.

If you believe your issue could be monitor-related, then we have a whole bunch more fixes for what to do when your screen doesn’t turn on in Windows 10.

2. Check Your Motherboard Connections

windows-fails-to-start-check-motherboard

If you’re getting a completely blank screen when Windows tries to start, then – if you’re reasonably confident – it may be worth taking a look inside to make sure that all the hardware is slotted in as it should be. Here are the main components you should be looking at.

  • Memory/RAM: RAM comes in the form of thin little sticks, which can be easily dislodged if you’ve knocked your computer around. Modern laptops usually hold the RAM in a bay on the underside, which means you don’t have to open the entire thing to take a look. Open your RAM bay (or PC tower), take the RAM out, and slot it back in to make sure it’s well connected.
  • OS Hard Drive: Another possibility is that your main Windows hard drive has disconnected from the motherboard (or the power supply). Press the SATA cables in firmly, and make sure it’s also connected to your PSU.
  • PCI-E Cards: It’s less likely – but still possible – that a disconnected GPU or other PCI-Express device may be causing Windows to fire a blank. Make sure it’s all properly connected.

3. Repair Windows 10 Startup

Windows 10 comes with a built-in startup repair option that can scan and repair missing or damaged startup system files. To access it, you’ll need to have either the Windows 10 installation disc or flash drive handy (you can use a friend’s disk/drive, or create your own through Microsoft’s website). Alternatively, you can follow our guide to create a Windows 10 recovery drive. Both of the solutions lead to the same place.

Once you have your recovery media, insert it into your PC, then reboot your PC and it should boot straight to the recovery media (if not, you should get the option to select the recovery drive as your PC is booting). Click “Next” on the Windows Setup screen, then “Repair your computer”.

This will open Boot options where you can troubleshoot many Windows problems. Go to “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Repair”. When you click “Startup Repair” Windows will restart and scan your PC for any system files it can fix (Microsoft account authentication may be required). If it finds a problem, it will automatically fix it.

Windows-Wont-Boot-Startup-Repair-option

4. Check External Flash Drives and Disks

There is a chance your Windows may be set to prioritize starting from an external drive and you have a USB drive attached or a disc inserted. If such external storage device is attached, Windows may try to boot from it but fail due to not having the right device attached containing the recovery files. Remove all external storage devices before starting Windows and see if it helps.

5. Windows Boot Record Errors

Boot Record errors are a major cause of Windows not starting, but fortunately they can be easily fixed using some Command prompt commands. You can refer to this guide to solve Boot Record errors.

6. Use Safe Mode to Solve the Problem

Whenever I face any Windows problem that makes the OS inoperable, the first thing I do is access Safe Mode. Safe Mode can answer a lot of questions quickly and also make it easier to solve them. In Safe Mode Windows starts with minimum required drivers and only the necessary startup system files, so a faulty file, program or driver will most probably not load in this mode, which makes it easier to identify and solve the problem.

Although there are many ways to access Safe Mode, now that Windows 10 is not booting at all, we have limited options. If you have restarted Windows multiple times and it has failed, then Windows will automatically open Boot options. If for some reason it doesn’t give you that option (very rare), then you can do one of two things.

1. Restart the PC and as soon as Windows 10 tries to load; remove the power supply or press and hold the Power button to force shutdown. Repeat this process three to four times, and Windows should automatically load the Boot options.

2. Otherwise you can try pressing the F8 key repeatedly while Windows tries to start and see if it loads the Boot options. Most probably this will not work in Windows 8/10, as the boot time is too fast, but on slower machines it may still work.

In Boot options go to “Troubleshoot -> Advanced options -> Startup Settings -> Restart.” Once the PC restarts, you can choose Safe Mode from the list using the numeric key 4.

Windows-Wont-Boot-Restart

Windows-Wont-Boot-Safe-Mode

Once you are in Safe mode, you can follow the guide here to troubleshoot your Windows problem. Listed here are possible things you can do in Safe Mode to solve Windows problems (including the Window won’t boot problem).

Last Resort

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If for some reason nothing helps you, and you are sure that you will have to do a clean Windows 10 install and lose all the data in the process, then there is still hope to save at least some of your data.

You can boot to a Windows 10 installation or recovery disc (which we outlined at the top of this article), then when it boots, select “Troubleshoot -> Reset this PC -> Keep my files”. This will back up and save all files, documents, pictures and so on kept under the user profiles in Windows 10 (and the profiles themselves). Third-party programs, games and so on, will be removed.

Are You Inside Now?

After going through all the above options, you should be inside Windows. If repairing the startup or solving boot record errors don’t help, then restoring or resetting the PC will probably solve the problem, and you can do that from both the Boot menu and the Safe Mode. Although, these options can lead to deleting some of the recent data, but at least you will be inside Windows 10.

Do let us know in the comments which one of these solutions worked for you or if you know any other solutions to solve the Windows 10 not starting problem.

This post was first published in 2016 and was updated in April 2019.

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16 comments

  1. Hello, I’m a university online student, I use my laptop everyday. I do not know why my Toshiba satellite (3 R’s. ) Started to crash. I’m a little bit computer suave. I have tried many things, and I did not realize that last thing I tried was supposed to repair my lap top ( I was in command prompt when I entered the info. I entered) it was intended if I had as windows 10 repair disk or flash drive ..I do not have one. I now only have a black screen with white text reading t he following:
    “Reboot and select proper Boot device or Insert Boot Media in selected Boot device and press a key.”
    Help I’m stuck..please tell me what to do. I’m scared, I need to get back in class..

    1. If your system has optical drive then the windows tool to reinstall should work.

      You need to make the windows an ISO image and burn it. I use imgburn.

      You can try placing iso on a bootable USB stick.

  2. Hullo there
    Option one worked for me, The “Automatic start up Repair” couldn’t fix my booting problem.
    So, I had to check my hardware components connection, and I found out my RAM chip was loosely connected. So I fixed it back, firmly (gently)…and now I am able to log onto my system.
    Lots of appreciation to you.

  3. This didn’t help me. Unfortunately after running a windows update today (the one which requires multiple restarting, at some point it advised that it had failed to restart. It suggested troubleshooting, restoring and resetting…. none of which will actually work, they all fail ” there was a problem….” is always the message or similar. Thanks Windows…. thanks a lot. :(

  4. Can I use the system image back up on external HDD instead of a recovery drive on usb for startup repairs? Please advise as well as elaborate on how a system image on an external HDD can help in solving bootup & crashes problems.

  5. Hi,I have a big problem I just don’t know what to do,my computer shut down lats week when I press the on batten it says ur PC need to be repair but when I try to repair my PC it failed & I try to reset and remove my file it say THE DRIVE WINDOWs INSTALLED IS LOCKED, but I don’t know where I can unlock my had drive.I put copy DVD windows 10 but still I don’t know what do,my PC don’t go to menu the copy DVD windows it loading nicely and put the product key,but when it installing file it failed on 12%.maybe u could help me with this problem

  6. Thank you.. After trying everything in my HP repair screen to get this amazing Windows 10 to boot to only fail. This article got me onto the boot menu options.. Tried a few and in my case it was F8 that worked… So is this my Norton messing my computer up or system mechanic I recently installed? 😭🤔
    Any ideas anyone. My comp has been jittery in slow performance of late too anyway… 😕🤔

  7. Thanks to this article on getting to the boot menu choosing F numbers. Mine was F8 that did the trick.
    So is it Norton messing with the startup or system mechanic which I recently installed?
    Any ideas?
    Comp has been stutter and slow recently too anyways….??
    Blummin things! 😭😂
    At least I’m in and currently backing up lots of data! 👀

    1. maybe i should try like you….or my windows 10 will force me to reset and lose everything.

  8. Fn and f8 repeatedly while on the Lenovo startup :) thanks so much

  9. My Win10 failure to start is a bit different. My computer will start and the Windows “earlyboot-icon” appears in the middle of the screen but the LoopOfDots does not appear unless I remove the 110vac from the computer power supply and reapply the power connection. . . Something else that is odd is I do not need to press the power on momentary switch on the front of the computer to get Win10 to boot. Side note: I have Win7 on another SSD and when I replace the Win10 SSD with the Win7 SSD there are no startup problems – Win7 boots directly. Something that I have notice with Win10 is that it operates noticeably slower than Win7. Oh, my Win10 install was in the presence of Win7 – it was one of those upgrade/migrations.

    1. Help! I have a cheapo HP 4 gigs memory machine, I thought I’d try to change the operating system (W10 pro) to a portable ssd drive to speed it up. Now the computer gets to options on language (UK, USA, etc.) and wont go any further. Any ideas please?
      Thank you!

  10. Windows 10 sucks. This from an IT point of view. Seven is much more stable. The best solution is to delete windows 10.

    1. Shocking…..i am worried now.

  11. I have a Dell AIO computer. It is a Inspiron 24 Model 3455 Series. Anyway, I had a problem with it and contacted Dell. They had me ship the computer to them and they determined that the motherboard was bad and I had to pay $100.00 to replace it. Then, they said they would have to reimage my system. I am not sure I understand why changing a motherboard required a reimage. Anyway, they said they reimaged it and returned my computer.

    Everything was fine for about 3 months, then it would not boot up when I turned it on one day. It automatically came up with a list of things it needed to do. Every option I selected failed. I kept getting a message that some files were corrupted. I contacted Dell again and they said my warranty had run out and I would have to pay them more money for them to look at it.

    I opted to purchase a reboot disk from “Xtra-PC”, which booted my computer up to a Linux system. It works great, but I do not want to have to learn a new language. That, to me, is a younger man’s game.

    So, I decided to buy a whole new copy of Windows 10, but when I tried to load it, I got all the way through entering the product key and it started to load files, then failed with the error code, 0x80070057 (corrupted dll(?)). I also found out that the file system was something called “BPM”? or something like that. I am not even able to format the hard drive.

    As I was looking to just break down and buy a brand new hard drive, I noticed, on the back of the computer, there was an envelope with a license with a product key!

    First, is there a way to load a new Windows 10 from the internet? I am thinking that the real crux of the issue is the product key, right? If I am able to get the Windows 10 program installed, would I be able to use the product key taped to the back of my pc? Apparently, I already purchased it, right?

    Or, am I just not seeing the forest for the trees?

  12. Hello,
    I have installed an incompatible display driver on my windows 10 and my laptop is not booting l. Please help me to recover from this problem. Please tell me how to repair this problem?

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