Windows Vista Starts Up With a Black Screen and Cursor (KSOD): Fix

Several users have encountered an issue in which Windows Vista improperly starts up, displaying only a black screen and a movable cursor. This problem is sometimes referred to as the “black screen of death” (KSOD). There are three fixes for this issue: one is extremely simple and should be tried first. The other two are more involved and require system file modification.


Startup in safe mode with networking In some cases, all that is required to fix this issue is to boot Windows Vista in safe mode. To do this, tap the F8 key on your keyboard repeatedly as the computer is starting up. Select safe mode with networking. Once the system is booted in safe mode, you may be asked to install updates–do so. Alternatively, after you’ve started in safe mode, you may be asked to install updates or restore the system after you boot again in normal mode. Either way, the simple act of booting in safe mode and applying the updates appears to fix this issue in some cases.

Disable the event log After the black screen with cursor appears, press the shift key several times (5 to 10 times). A window should appear that reads “Go to the Ease of Access Center to disable the keyboard shortcut.” Click on that item, then follow these instructions:

  1. In the explorer window that appears, clear the address entry and type MSCONFIG then press enter. Run MSCONFIG.
  2. Uncheck the two items in selective startup and press apply, then restart the computer.
  3. The computer should start normally. Now click the Start button and type MSCONFIG again, then press enter. Uncheck Windows Event Log and Windows Event Collector, then restart the system.

Use the Vista repair disc Failing the aforementioned, you may need to use a more involved process that requires use of the Windows Vista disc. The steps are outlined here.

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