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  1.    12 Jun 2017 #1
    Join Date : Nov 2015
    Posts : 14
    Windows 10

    Changed a hard drive, now Windows logs in but screen is black


    I swapped my storage drive last night and now Windows logs in to a black screen and I can't do much of anything with it.

    The drive I swapped was a 2TB HDD with no part of Windows on it. I did have a swap file and File History folder on it, plus some library locations were mapped to it, but I'm pretty sure I did everything necessary to deal with them: I copied all of the data to the new drive (using Windows, rather than cloning), disabled the swap file on the old drive, enabled it on the new, added the new drive to the libraries and removed the old drives from them, and I disabled File History completely. By my reckoning, nothing I did should have affected Windows, my boot drive or my data drive (where my Users directory is held, which is still a separate drive from the storage drive I swapped).

    Before removing the old drive physically, I tried to change the drive letter over to the new drive, but it wouldn't let me (I can't remember exactly what it said, but I think it was "Parameter is incorrect"). I assumed I'd be able to fix that once I booted with the new drive. I powered off, disconnected the old drive, connected the new drive (using the old drive's SATA cable, therefore the same SATA port) and then rebooted.

    Windows seems to start normally. It displays my usual log/lock screen wallpaper and seems to log in successfully, but the desktop is just black. The mouse cursor works, and my second monitor is recognised and used, but there's no task bar and Ctrl-Shift-Esc does not open the task manager. If I wait for a while my antivirus software's window appears (BitDefender Free) as normal, but no other windows open (though again, that's normal). Ctr-Alt-Del works as expected, but Task Manager won't open from there either. I can lock the computer with Win-L and then log back in, but nothing changes. I can't open anything from the task bar (Win-1 normally opens Chrome).

    I can shut the computer down with using the power button on the case or the options on the Ctrl-Alt-Del window. I can also reboot into the recovery options or safe mode. I've tried using the recovery options to do an auto startup repair, but it doesn't find any errors. I've run sfc /scannow from the recovery options' command window but it finds no errors either.

    Once I get into safe mode I can see the task bar and interact with it, and I can open some apps, but not PowerShell or a command window (but is that because I didn't choose safe mode with command window?). I can open the new settings window but clicking on stuff just seems to stop it from responding. I searched for and successfully opened the screen to try to add another user (in case it's my user account that's been corrupted) but it doesn't do anything there either (I see a flash of another window opening, but it closes immediately). I tried to open the Disk Manager so that I could change the drive letter but the MMC doesn't open (it's visible in Task Manager, which opens in safe mode, but it's not using any CPU and I can start multiple copies without any of them becoming visible). In "Safe Mode with Command Window" I can run SFC again, but it still finds nothing wrong.

    I'm out of ideas here, short of reinstalling Windows over the top of my current installation (version 1703, build 15063.296), preferably without wiping my data/settings, depending on results) if it will let me. Does anyone have any other suggestions before I do that?

    Thanks in advance.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  2.    12 Jun 2017 #2
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,403
    Windows 10 Pro

    Have you tried creating a new local user account and logging into it?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  3.    12 Jun 2017 #3
    Join Date : Nov 2015
    Posts : 14
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    No, but as I mentioned above, this is because I can't open the requisite control panels (I've tried using the Win 10 settings app and the old cpanel.exe route) in either normal or safe mode. Is there another way to do it?
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  4.    12 Jun 2017 #4
    Join Date : Nov 2015
    Posts : 14
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Additional info: I've just managed to open Chrome on the PC, but only because I clicked on a button in the antivirus software that opened a URL.

    My guess right now is that explorer.exe is in some way broken, given the lack of task bar. I can't open context menus on my desktop, nor does double-clicking the desktop do what it normally does (in my case, open a Directory Opus lister window). I've tried Win+R to open a Run window: nothing appears, nor does it seem to respond to the commands I type if I assume that the window is open but not displayed.

    Another thing I've just thought of: none of my usual programs that start with Windows appear to be running, so there may be an additional problem with the Windows startup sequence or, more likely, Windows doesn't get that far in the process, so doesn't try to start any of them.

    Edit: that should be "most of my usual programs", since my AV software is clearly running.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  5.    12 Jun 2017 #5
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,403
    Windows 10 Pro

    I would try option four here:
    Enable or Disable Elevated Administrator account in Windows 10 Windows 10 User Accounts Tutorials

    See if you can get into the built-in administrator account. If you can, then see if you can create a new local user account to log into.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  6.    12 Jun 2017 #6
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Posts : 8,763
    windows 10 professional version 1607 build 14393.969 64 bit

    Quote Originally Posted by NJMorf View Post
    My guess right now is that explorer.exe is in some way broken, given the lack of task bar.
    What happens when you click control + alt + delete simultaneously then file then run new task then type explorer?

    Create a bootable windows 10 iso: Download Windows 10

    Plan an in place upgrade (you should be able to keep files, applications, settings)

    Repair Install Windows 10 with an In-place Upgrade Windows 10 Installation Upgrade Tutorials
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  7.    12 Jun 2017 #7
    Join Date : Nov 2015
    Posts : 14
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    Quote Originally Posted by zbook View Post
    What happens when you click control + alt + delete simultaneously then file then run new task then type explorer?
    This wasn't possible: Task Manager wasn't working, so I couldn't use it to stop and restart explorer.exe. I've already got a Windows install flash drive, so my next steps were going to be to reset Windows using the troubleshooting tools or do an in-place upgrade/installation from the USB.
    Quote Originally Posted by NavyLCDR View Post
    I would try option four here:
    Enable or Disable Elevated Administrator account in Windows 10 Windows 10 User Accounts Tutorials
    See if you can get into the built-in administrator account. If you can, then see if you can create a new local user account to log into.
    I started doing this: got into the admin account and set my own existing account as a standard account. I tried to change the drive letter again and got the same "parameter is incorrect" message, so I tried to run a few more disk checks to see if perhaps my new drive is faulty. Windows refused to run DiskCheck so I scheduled it to happen on reboot, then I rebooted. Progress was very slow for the first 10-20 minutes (stuck on 10%) so I left it for an hour: when I came back, it was still on 10% so I assumed it wasn't going any further and reset the PC.

    The PC booted and successfully logged into my normal (now non-admin) account and everything started up as normal: wallpaper, task bar, all startup applications, Task Manager, everything. I literally did nothing to my old account but change it from administrator to standard, I didn't even get around to creating a new user account as a test.

    I'm going to copy some more data from the hard drive and then wipe it completely. Assuming nothing else breaks, I'll turn the account back into an admin and test things again, but my guess (hope...) right now is that Windows did whatever was necessary to fix the account when I changed its type, so fingers crossed it'll still work normally as an admin.

    Thanks for the help, folks. I'll update this thread with the results.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  8.    12 Jun 2017 #8
    Join Date : Jul 2015
    Posts : 9,403
    Windows 10 Pro

    You are in a very dangerous situation right now as the only admin account you have on the computer is the built-in admin account. Lots of people have gotten locked out of their own computers this way when something happens to the built-in admin account such as it suddenly gets a password assigned to it that the user swears they don't know how it happened or what it is.

    What I had suspected is that part of your user profile was on the second hard drive and that part of your user profile was no longer available to load. Switching the user account to a standard user must have rebuilt whatever part of the user profile was lost. Creating a new user account, as I suggested, would have also created a full profile for the new user.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  9.    12 Jun 2017 #9
    Join Date : Nov 2015
    Posts : 14
    Windows 10
    Thread Starter

    I'm pretty sure that there's nothing on the old storage drive that had anything to do with the user profile. I always build my PCs with separate drives (or at least partitions) for the OS, user data and games. I use answer files to change the location of the Users directory during Windows installation, and the storage drive was never used for user profiles. It had a pagefile, recycle bin and some folders included in libraries, but all the folders there were created by me by hand for various purposes.

    I agree with you that switching the account must have found something to fix and then fixed it, but I'm convinced that the new drive wasn't the root cause, if it was involved at all. I'm guessing it was a coincidence that the two things happened at the same time.

    Anyway, still tidying up and making sure that all my data's on an external drive before I tinker with the accounts again.
      My ComputerSystem Spec
  10.    12 Jun 2017 #10
    Join Date : Apr 2017
    Posts : 8,763
    windows 10 professional version 1607 build 14393.969 64 bit

    Quote Originally Posted by NJMorf View Post
    my next steps were going to be to reset Windows using the troubleshooting tools or do an in-place upgrade/installation from the USB..
    Reset and save files, lose applications
    Reset and remove files
    In place upgrade keeps applications

    Back up all of your files as an extra precaution.
    The in place upgrade is an attractive option.
    You must be able to open the iso from within windows.
    If you cannot do that then reset with save files.
      My ComputerSystem Spec

 
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