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Computer unable to start?


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I normally leave my computer on all 24 hrs but the past 2 days I've been getting up and it's been off.  When I try to start it, the fan & light turns on but the screen stays black.  I hold the power button in to turn it back off and when I start it back up, it takes me to a screen allowing me to choose "start windows normally" or "repair windows".  If I select start windows normally, it will not start, just goes to the black screen again.  If I go to repair windows, it does the windows repair (pic below) and will usually boot my computer properly.  


I'm afraid that something is failing in my computer and I want to fix it before it kicks the bucket and I lose my data.  I've ordered a 128gb flash drive and I'm about to order a new computer but I'm worried I might lose everything before one of them gets here.  The computer is a dell I bought new somewhere around 07 so it is time to upgrade anyways.  I'm going with HP this time.


Any help is appreciated.  Also, is it ok to buy a new computer with win7 or is 8.1 run a lot faster?  




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Being that this computer is a DELL, when you turn on the computer hit the F12 Key and run a diagnostics, it will tell you if something is failing, more than likely it could be the hard drive.


As soon as you get your flash drive, make sure to backup your data immediately.

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Well if its the hard drive going out, then minimal usage of the computer is a must. It will not hurt it to run a diagnostics on the computer, the diagnostic test does not take that long. If you get any error codes you can post them and we can help further.

As for Windows 7 or 8. Well its a loaded question really. Its really a matter of choice, and you can ask 100 people the same question and some will like 7 and others 8.

For me, well its much easier to have Win7 because of my work environment, and the ease of use with Win7 including compatibility with our existing programs.

Some folks like Win8 and some don't, but you will have to make that choice yourself.

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Thanks for your help.  I will run the diag later tonight when I get home and post any error codes.  


Here's what I just ordered, how did I do?  


HP ENVY 700qe Desktop PC

  • Windows 8.1 64
  • 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4790 processor quad-core [3.6GHz, 8MB Shared Cache]
  • HP wireless keyboard and wireless optical mouse
  • 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 745 [DVI, HDMI, DP, DVI to VGA adapter]
  • 16GB DDR3-1600MHz [2 DIMM ]
  • 2TB 7200 RPM SATA Hard Drive
  • 16GB mSATA SSD Cache
  • No Secondary HDD
  • No TV Tuner Card
  • Microsoft Office Trial
  • Security software trial
  • SuperMulti DVD Burner
  • 15-in-1 Multi-slot Media Card Reader, 4 USB Ports (Front/Top), Audio [Front 2USB2.0, Top 2USB3.0]
  • Integrated Sound, Envy Audio; Beats Audio
  • HP WLAN 802.11 b/g/n 1x1 MCard BT
  • 500W Power supply


$1069 w/ tax

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Well it's too late now lol.  I had someone tell me http://www.classicshell.net/ makes 8 look a lot like 7.  I guess I will have to get used to it. 


As for the diagnostics, when I press f12, it takes me to the boot menu.  All I can do is choose the boot order.  If I press f2 it takes me to set up but I don't see anything about running dianostics.


Am I doing something wrong?  I have windows vista on that computer.



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without more information , it is hard to say what is happening .


as for W8.1 ... yes , it is about as awkward as a bear cub with two left paws ... at least to those of us that require a *real* desktop and keyboard .   <_<

"classic shell" is the answer (for the most part) , it does a fair job of making W8.1 (_ahem_) *palatable* .

i have installed it on many machines .


oh yeah ...

the first thing to do with that new comp (after installing a *real* anti-virus) is to check for updates and make darn sure that you are indeed running 8.1 and not 8 .

go to the "windows store" (in the apps section) and look for "upgrade to W8.1" (or words to that effect) .

the upgrade will take an appreciable amount of time ... patience is needed .

once the upgrade is done , then check for updates ... after all updates have been installed , tell the windows update to notify you of updates but let you select what to do .

continue to install all the rest of the programs you want .

you will need to check to see if any of your old programs are compatible with W8.1 .

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Thanks for the info on the new computer.  What *real* antivirus should I download to the computer?  Malwarebytes I assume?  Link? 


For now I am not using the desktop until I get my flash drive in.  I definitely don't want to lose my data.  As for what the problem is, if someone can guide me on how to run the diagnostics test, I will.  Otherwise I will just yank the ram(2x4gb) and trash the system.  I don't think anything else in it is worth anything.   

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first ... malwarebytes is not an AV ... it is an antimalware ... it is a very good adjunct to an decent AV .

as for "what is a good AV" , forum rules prohibit endorsement of any specific product .

here is a list of some programs :



you may find that the ram in your old comp is not compatible with your new one or many of the newer style motherboards .

if you do scrounge up an *old* working comp that is short on ram , then saving it is a good deal .


it has not been determined if your HDD is good , heading south , bad or infected ...

there are a couple of tools to determine (to some extent) if the drive is physically and electronically ok .

as i understand it , the comp , at this time , is "messed up" ... maybe the best thing is to pull the data off of the drive using a linux based live OS such as "linux mint 13" (google-fu) .

as you do not know if the old comp is infected , it is best to not place the old drive in the new machine to pull the data off of it .

once the new comp is up to running speed ... then you can transfer stuff from the old comp and scan everything (using the AV and malwarebytes) on the flashdrive that you use for the transfer before you drop it into the new machine .


while you are waiting for the new comp to arrive ... check the programs for things like your printer/scanner for compatibility with W8.1 .

in some cases , there will not be *new* software written for some devices .


as you are not familiar with "classic shell" take this time to read about it at the website or on wikipedia .

someone that is familiar with it to guide you through the initial set-up is a good thing ... it makes the learning curve less steep .

a couple of items in particular :

tell it to bypass the metro/fisher-price screen and go right to the *classic desktop*

replace the "start button" with the "aero" themed button

deactivate all "corners" , "sidebars" and "charms"

"ctrl + escape" is your new friend ... it will usually get one back to the desktop

double check your supply of 2-acetoxybenzoic acid

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Hello again


Since forum rules prevent endorsement on the public forum, are you able to PM me a suggestion?  Are any of them freeware?  I've had bad experiences with some antiviruses, especially when it comes to renew and decide not to.


I've got my data backed up.  I've been using my desktop the past couple days with no issues.  Now that it's backed up, how can I diagnose the issue of the failed boot?  Like I said, I cannot find any type of diagnostic scan under F12.


Lastly, how do I scan my flash drive with malwarebytes?


Thank you everyone

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  • Root Admin

About the only 2 decent free antivirus are Avira and Avast. BitDefender has one too but due to what appears to be the inability to exclude files, folders, etc I cannot recommend it myself.


Depending on how the system sees the USB drive you may need to right click on the drive from within Explorer and tell it to scan with MBAM or do a Custom scan and select it if it shows there.


Might have to create boot media to test the hard drive while booted from a CD


Please see the following link which has all sorts of links and topics for hard drive diagnostics
Hard Drive Diagnostics Tools and Utilities

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disclaimer : this is not a recommendation ... it is a personal experience and the results .


i used to use AVG (paid for) but it became "naggy" and started hawking their products , offering things that were of dubious need .

i finally settled on ESET "smart security" ... there is no trial (the last i knew) , it does ok and has saved my bacon many times .

it will allow you to scan external/flash/thumb drives ... it can be set to automatically scan a drive when it is plugged into the machine (monopoly ; do not pass go ...) .

scan individual files ? yes , it allows that .


additional information :

some AVs can/will "turn off" the windows firewall and windows defender (AVM) , some cannot and will require manual deactivation of them .

the running of a single AV and AM is the best way to avoid conflicts and keeping the "fat" on a system pared down .

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