Windows 8 and 8.1 Forums


Black Screen & Pointer When Booting Windows Recovery USB

  1. #1


    Posts : 17
    Windows 8.1 x64 Pro

    Black Screen & Pointer When Booting Windows Recovery USB


    I'm trying to boot from the bios into a Windows 8.1 Recovery USB. When it loads it just goes to a black screen with moveable mouse pointer and will sit like that endlessly. However when I boot with an Acronis USB for example everything comes up on screen fine.

    Can someone explain why this is happening or what it indicates?, all this is occuring outside of Windows so things like drivers shouldn't be affecting the display.

    Thanks

      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  2. #2


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    Depends on the Recovery USB that you are using.
    How did you make/create it?
    How do you select it to boot from in the BIOS/UEFI?
    Is this this Surface Pro that's in your sig?

    If it's the standard Windows USB recovery drive, then you should be able to boot to the System Recovery Options ( Recovery Drive - Create with USB Flash Drive in Windows 8 )
    If unable to boot to that, the drive may be corrupted/damaged.
    Try it on another system (don't install anything, just see if it boots) in order to see if it works there.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  3. #3


    Posts : 17
    Windows 8.1 x64 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Depends on the Recovery USB that you are using.
    How did you make/create it?
    How do you select it to boot from in the BIOS/UEFI?
    Is this this Surface Pro that's in your sig?

    If it's the standard Windows USB recovery drive, then you should be able to boot to the System Recovery Options ( Recovery Drive - Create with USB Flash Drive in Windows 8 )
    If unable to boot to that, the drive may be corrupted/damaged.
    Try it on another system (don't install anything, just see if it boots) in order to see if it works there.
    Thank you for the reply,

    The recovery USB I am using was made from a laptop running retail Windows 8.1 Pro x64 and it approx 700MB in size.

    Yes I am using it on a Surface Pro, to boot from USB I hold down the volume key and power key. It reads the USB and goes into it but then the screen goes black with just a mouse pointer which can move, and will remain like that.

    I have tried different sticks and they all do the same. But the funny thing is if I use an Acronis recovery USB it works fine, why would a 3rd party tool work and MS's own one not work? I am not sure what a black screen with pointer signifies.

    I have seen other examples of this on the net but it has always been graphic driver issues from within Windows. This is outside of Windows.
    Last edited by R23; 30 May 2014 at 06:14.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  4. #4


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    It's possible that the drivers from one PC won't match the drivers from another and there's only so much you can fit into 700 mB.

    As it seems that the Surface Pro's hardware is working properly (from the Acronis USB), then I'd suggest testing with a recovery drive from a Surface Pro.

    If you can't get a recovery drive for a Surface Pro, you may want to try one from a Surface Pro 2. If you don't know anyone who has one, you may want to ask nicely at your local Surface retailer if you can make one there from one of their display models.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  5. #5


    Posts : 17
    Windows 8.1 x64 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    It's possible that the drivers from one PC won't match the drivers from another and there's only so much you can fit into 700 mB.

    As it seems that the Surface Pro's hardware is working properly (from the Acronis USB), then I'd suggest testing with a recovery drive from a Surface Pro.

    If you can't get a recovery drive for a Surface Pro, you may want to try one from a Surface Pro 2. If you don't know anyone who has one, you may want to ask nicely at your local Surface retailer if you can make one there from one of their display models.
    I tried another recovery USB made on a Surface Pro, it did not boot because apparently they are hard keyed to only the Surface it was made on (OEM 8.1 cannot recover anything else).

    Looking in the file structure this isn't a whole lot different from a Surface recovery USB and a recovery from 8.1 reatail (no special drivers etc. File sizes are the same.

    I think the issue is becoming clearer to me, it might be to do with Windows PE. The Acronis one works because its booting into a Linux GUI. All recovery software created with a Windows PE image are booting to a black screen... a massive weakness if they want to make a sale. Even MS's own recovery USB = black screen!

    WinPE 5.0 is apparently for Windows 8.1 and everyone I have created black screens. Using WinPE 4.0 didn't boot at all so I must be on the right track. Could it be it doesn't recognise the Surface screen? It's your standard Intel HD4000 graphics so I don't see why not.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  6. #6


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    That's the confusing point here. It's using a common driver, so that should be easily recognized by (and should be included in) the recovery routine.
    Just for the sake of completeness, can you boot to the recovery process with the USB drive on another computer? (don't actually start the recovery, just boot into it to verify that it works).

    Interesting note about hard-keying the recovery drive to each Surface Pro. I've addressed this question previously on an RT (see this link: Surface RT won't reset/boot loop - Microsoft Community ), and got an answer from Steven_B that didn't entirely satisfy me. But as I didn't have a Surface to work on at the time, I forgot about it. The answer I received was this:
    Greetings Usasma,

    Sorry to hear about the Surface. We do not recommend using another Surface RT's recovery drive, though it may work, the recovery drive carries unique identifiers to the Surface that it is created on.


    Sending the Surface in for Repair is the best way to get the Surface back into a working state.
    Now, in the past I've seen issues with video that will work on Linux, but not in Windows. My own theory is that the drivers use different functions on the video chip - and so they may not involve the same parts of the hardware. In other words, I think that there may be a hardware problem within the video chip - one that the Windows drivers use, but the Linux drivers don't.

    *************************************************************************************

    Cut to the "AHA!!!" moment :0)

    Black screen errors used to be (in the XP days) caused by video drivers.
    Since Vista came out, they are caused by more than just this.
    In particular, I have seen chipset, storage, and networking drivers have an effect on them.
    So, it's reasonable to suspect that a malfunctioning motherboard, hard drive, or network device could also cause this.

    The question then becomes: "What's different (hardware-wise) between the drivers in the Acronis USB and the recovery USB?"

    Frankly, I'd suggest backing up your stuff (with the Acronis USB) and then sending it in for service. When I exchanged my RT, I had another one within 2 days (using the expedited replacement process).
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  7. #7


    Posts : 17
    Windows 8.1 x64 Pro


    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    That's the confusing point here. It's using a common driver, so that should be easily recognized by (and should be included in) the recovery routine.
    Just for the sake of completeness, can you boot to the recovery process with the USB drive on another computer? (don't actually start the recovery, just boot into it to verify that it works).

    Interesting note about hard-keying the recovery drive to each Surface Pro. I've addressed this question previously on an RT (see this link: Surface RT won't reset/boot loop - Microsoft Community ), and got an answer from Steven_B that didn't entirely satisfy me. But as I didn't have a Surface to work on at the time, I forgot about it. The answer I received was this:
    Greetings Usasma,

    Sorry to hear about the Surface. We do not recommend using another Surface RT's recovery drive, though it may work, the recovery drive carries unique identifiers to the Surface that it is created on.

    Sending the Surface in for Repair is the best way to get the Surface back into a working state.
    It is utter madness that you cannot use one Surface to recover another but thats apparently how MS have done it. The Surface box needs a huge sticker on it saying if you didn't make a USB recovery, your stuffed! Also if Windows won't boot at all, your stuffed!

    I have different USB's but as I don't have another W8 machine I would have to test them on a VM.

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Now, in the past I've seen issues with video that will work on Linux, but not in Windows. My own theory is that the drivers use different functions on the video chip - and so they may not involve the same parts of the hardware. In other words, I think that there may be a hardware problem within the video chip - one that the Windows drivers use, but the Linux drivers don't.

    *************************************************************************************

    Cut to the "AHA!!!" moment :0)

    Black screen errors used to be (in the XP days) caused by video drivers.
    Since Vista came out, they are caused by more than just this.
    In particular, I have seen chipset, storage, and networking drivers have an effect on them.
    So, it's reasonable to suspect that a malfunctioning motherboard, hard drive, or network device could also cause this.
    If Acronis didn't work I would probably think hardware failure, but the fact I can see all the paritions and drives makes me doubt it. Everything else like the UEFI boot menu, keyboard, buttons all work. I think it's just Windows is very very corrupted and the chances of hardware failure coinciding exactly with a messed up update are slim.

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    The question then becomes: "What's different (hardware-wise) between the drivers in the Acronis USB and the recovery USB?"
    Thats the million dollar question that's driving me nuts! All WinPE media has so far booted to a black screen and Acronis is the only one that doesn't... so what's it doing different? The only thing is Linux.

    I just tried using Windows ADK Deployment & Imaging Tool to create a WinPE 5.0 boot usb and injected the graphics driver taken from the Surface Pro firmware pack download. Would you believe it also boots to black screen with mouse! All these things can't be creating wrongly.

    I was always under the impression that the point of recovery media is that it operates totally independently of the system because it must be universal (it can't have driver support for everything), like a Windows install disk for example.

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Frankly, I'd suggest backing up your stuff (with the Acronis USB) and then sending it in for service. When I exchanged my RT, I had another one within 2 days (using the expedited replacement process).
    That will be the final option but I still want to pursue this as I hate not knowing whats wrong so I can prepare for when it happens again. I'm kinda old skool and swapping out every time something goes wrong just makes no sense to me.
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  8. #8


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    Doesn't matter what you test them on - you won't be going that far into the recovery for it to matter (and, if you do, you'll get an error message).

    Another thought - do the other Surface's have updated video drivers? I've seen numerous Intel video updates for Win8.1 (just found one at work and thought of you :0)

    I gave up fixing Black Screen errors years ago (at work). The process for doing it would take weeks, and most often wouldn't work. We'd end up doing a format and reinstall on these systems - backing up the data if the customer requested it.
    Now we run hardware diagnostics - and if those pass, we try System Restore. If we can't try it (or it doesn't work), then it's a wipe and reinstall.

    And, no, the only thing different isn't just Linux. We're dealing with different drivers, different implementations of the drivers, different functions in the drivers, and different versions of the drives. A Linux video driver isn't identical in functioning to a Windows driver.

    Have you tried making a bootable 8/8.1 drive (a bootable copy of a plain Win8 installation DVD) and seeing if it'll let you get into Startup Repair that way?
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  9. #9


    Posts : 17
    Windows 8.1 x64 Pro


    OK I have managed to boot Ubuntu 14.04 from a Live USB and everything (touch, wifi, screen etc) is all functioning. It's looking less like a hardware failure and more like driver / corruption if everything works in Ubuntu.

    It's now clear bootable Linux based stuff is working, WinPE stuff isn't. I cannot understand why. When I click on the Windows partition (and all the other ones) I'm getting the following message... thoughts?

    Attachment 44311

    So my next question is, is there any way to repair the Windows installation from within Ubuntu?

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Another thought - do the other Surface's have updated video drivers? I've seen numerous Intel video updates for Win8.1 (just found one at work and thought of you :0)
    There arenít as many graphics driver drops on the Surface as Intel release because they are customised by MS before being released through Windows update. I can't be sure what the other Surface was on but if auto updates have been left on the last one I think was in Feb which means it would match mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    I gave up fixing Black Screen errors years ago (at work). The process for doing it would take weeks, and most often wouldn't work. We'd end up doing a format and reinstall on these systems - backing up the data if the customer requested it.
    Now we run hardware diagnostics - and if those pass, we try System Restore. If we can't try it (or it doesn't work), then it's a wipe and reinstall.
    If this was a laptop I would have already taken the SDD out an either fixed or wiped it on another computer. Thank you for sealing it MS!

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    And, no, the only thing different isn't just Linux. We're dealing with different drivers, different implementations of the drivers, different functions in the drivers, and different versions of the drives. A Linux video driver isn't identical in functioning to a Windows driver.
    It might be that one stray driver has brought down the whole thing. My guess is PE cannot initialise because something its relying on has been trashed.

    Quote Originally Posted by usasma View Post
    Have you tried making a bootable 8/8.1 drive (a bootable copy of a plain Win8 installation DVD) and seeing if it'll let you get into Startup Repair that way?
    Yes, I used en_windows_8_1_x64_dvd_2707217. It boots to a black screen with mouse, like everything else thats WinPE based.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

  10. #10


    Posts : 5,139
    Win8.1Pro - Finally!!!


    I think that the most significant thing here is the screenshot of the error.
    If all things Ubuntu are working well - why can't you access the Windows directory?

    I am not familiar with Ubuntu, but the screenshot suggests that you mount the partition read-only (using the -ro option).
    Have you tried that? If so, what were the results.
    Are there any other partition/volume repair tools in Linux that you can try? (something akin to chkdsks /r /f in Windows): https://www.google.com/search?q=ntfs...x-a&channel=sb

    If this were a regular PC, I'd suggest wiping the hard drive (including deleting the partitions) - but this will leave you with a real nice paperweight if it doesn't work. I'd try this just before you decide to send it in for repair.
      My System SpecsSystem Spec

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