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My computer, running Windows 8.1 has suddenly decided not to boot any more, showing me just a black screen (no errors or anything).

It's a HP Pavilion 500 141ea. When I turn it on, I get the HP logo with the spinning dots underneath. Sometimes this just continues forever.

Other times, it will display, "Preparing automatic repair", with the spinning dots again. Then the screen goes completely black.

If I repeatedly press escape on turning on the computer I can get a system menu which includes the ability to go into the BIOS as well as boot options. I can also get into the system diagnostics by holding F2.

I have tried downloading the Microsoft tool to create a USB flash recovery image. (From here: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-IE/windows-8/create-reset-refresh-media ) When I try to boot from this (I think I am booting from it), I get either the HP logo or the Windows logo, and the rotating dots for several seconds, before the screen goes black as before.

I've never been able to get into recovery mode, or the advanced tools that I keep reading windows is supposed to automatically go into if it can't boot for some reason.

In the system diagnostics, I've run a test and it's all passed. (including the Short DST which I see other people with similar problem failed).

It never displays an error message.

Edit I found another possibility at windows 8 stuck in endless preparing automatic repair which requires booting into the command prompt somehow. Any ideas on how I could do this could be helpful.

Another Edit

Just a bit of serendipity... which may or may not be relevant.

Before this happened, I had plugged the spare SATA plugs into a second hard disk in an attempt to recover some data, and left the computer open. When I first noticed this problem, I saw the larger of the two SATA plugs had come loose, so I just plugged it out altogether.

Now, on the Windows 7 machine, to try and investigate the booting problem, I tried plugging my Windows 8.1 HDD (from the computer above) into the Windows 7 computer. But after the disk didn't show up I turned off the computer and noticed the same issue (the larger of the SATA plugs had come loose!). So again I just plugged it out altogether. When I next booted the Windows 7 computer, it went into a disk check which took more than an hour to complete (I left it overnight).

I was wondering if the Windows 8.1 is stuck in some kind of similar disk checking triggered by the other disk not having been plugged in properly, just not displaying it? But I tried leaving it overnight last night but this morning it was still displaying just the logo and the rotating dots...

  • Try using a boot-disk or windows 8.1 boot-cd – Leet-Falcon Dec 2 '15 at 6:39
  • @Leet-Falcon Would this be any different from a boot memory stick? – colmde Dec 2 '15 at 8:55
  • boot memory stick is also good if your BIOS will load it before other devices – Leet-Falcon Dec 2 '15 at 9:12
  • @Leet-Falcon ahh but as I said in my message I tried that already and it simply goes into a black screen after displaying the logo for a few seconds. (Created from this page windows.microsoft.com/en-IE/windows-8/… ). I am away from the affected computer now but I expect a boot CD will do the same thing... ? – colmde Dec 2 '15 at 9:27
  • Can't say for sure. I think it worth trying. Also, Check in BIOS that the boot order lists CD & USB before Win8 HDD option. – Leet-Falcon Dec 2 '15 at 9:35

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