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Black Screen of Death: What is It and How to Fix?

Updated on Thursday, June 16, 2022

iBoysoft author Jenny Zeng

Written by

Jenny Zeng
Professional tech editor

Approved by

Connie Yang

Black Screen of Death: What is It and How to Fix?

Summary: This article tells you what the black screen of death/BSOD is, why it happened, as well as how to diagnose BSOD. And some quick fixes to help you solve this problem are also listed.

Black screen of death

Guide to the black screen of death:

What is Black Screen of Death/BSOD?

Black screen of death, BSOD for short, is an error screen that shows up when a system failure, a software problem, or a hardware fault occurs. BSOD can happen to several operating systems, including Windows and macOS. However, Windows black screen is one of the most frequently discussed ones thanks to its total amount of users over the world.

Plus, one typical symptom is that the computer screen turns black all of a sudden, but note that not all black screens can be diagnosed as BSOD.

Symptoms of Black Screen of Death and How to Diagnose it

Basically, there are 3 types of BSOD symptoms.

1. The monitor screen turns black completely when you are using the computer as usual, or the screen keeps to be completely black starting from the booting of your computer.

Black Screen

2. The monitor screen is all black except for a single movable mouse pointer. You can only move the mouse pointer other than doing anything else. There are no other Windows or macOS features.

Black Screen with an Arrow Cursor

3. The monitor screen is all black apart from a flashing gray cursor. This interface is somehow a little bit similar to that of the Command Prompt or the PowerShell in Windows. However, you cannot type in any letters or digits.

Black Screen with a Blinking Cursor

In all the above 3 types of situations, you get no response from the operating system and cannot conduct any further operation. Your machine is "dead".

PC/Laptop/Mac gets a black screen all of a sudden when you are editing your documents, or playing favorite computer games, or browsing websites? Then, you may be caught in a BSOD issue.

What Causes Black Screen of Death?

Before we discuss the real causes of BSOD, be noted again that not all black screens can be diagnosed as BSOD. In some other cases, your screen also remains completely black, and this may be an issue with your monitor, NOT a real BSOD issue. 

For example, you might have accidentally set your monitor to an extremely low brightness in its setting options (figure 4), or your monitor has been broken, something is wrong with the cable, or you simply haven't turned it on. We'll discuss how to diagnose BSOD and other black screens in part 5.

Adjust Display Brightness

Two categories of causes can trigger BSOD: hardware problems and logical aspect problems. Below list some detailed common causes of each category.

Hardware Problems

Computer components are overheating, including CPU's overheating due to the failure of the fan;

The power supply unit (PSU) is not providing enough power to your computer due to PSU aging or incompatible external equipment that has been added to your computer;

Some computer accessories, like graphic card and motherboard, are of poor quality and get corrupted, or are incompatible with the computer.

Logical Aspect Problems

The process of Windows/macOS installation has been interrupted, which led to incomplete Windows or macOS installation;

Software/Application Error. Some incompatible software has been installed and runs on your computer;

System file missing or corrupt due to virus attack;

The MBR or partition table of the internal disk is corrupted.

Will BSOD Cause Serious Consequences?

When people encounter BSOD, one of their big concerns is whether it will cause serious damage to the operating systems or the disks of their PCs/laptops/Macs and whether their important data will be lost.

Actually, it depends on the causes of BSOD. As we discussed above, there are two major categories of reasons. One is a hardware problem, and another is a logical aspect problem.

Generally speaking, hardware problems do not exert too much negative influence on your computer or stored data. However, logical aspect problems, such as virus attacks, system corruption, and key file missing, can cause serious consequences to your computer and data. Therefore, remember not to store files in a computer that often gets BSOD, and make timely data backup before disaster happens.

In addition, if such a disaster unfortunately happens, don't panic. You are highly recommended to adopt professional third-party data recovery software, such as iBoysoft Data Recovery (for both Windows and Mac users), to retrieve your lost data to the largest extent in a reliable way.

Quick Fixes of Black Screen of Death

First of all, you need to know how to verify whether your black screen is a BSOD problem or a monitor problem. You can test this by connecting your PC/laptop/Mac with an extra/external monitor which works normally. If the external monitor screen also turns out to be black or blank, then it's very likely to be a BSOD issue.

Compared to any other monitor-displayed errors such as a blue screen, the black screen of death is usually more difficult to be solved as it doesn't display an error message as a hint or a tip on your screen. But the black screen of death is a common issue and there's no need to panic. 

As an ordinary user, when you are sure that you've been caught in a BSOD issue after a correct diagnosis, you can restart your PC, laptop, or Mac. If the BSOD problem still exists, perform these advanced quick fixes of BSOD for Windows or macOS.


Black Screen of Death is a commonly seen error condition of a computer displayed by several operating systems, often by Windows. When your computer screen goes black, you might think that your computer has gone kaput. However, a black screen is not always equivalent to a black screen of death. 

It may be just specific to the monitor. So, before you decide to buy a new PC, a new laptop, or a new Mac, or send it to the electronics repair shop, make a simple diagnosis and perform the quick fixes to save your time and money.

If your important data are unfortunately lost due to BSOD caused by logical aspect issues, you are recommended to use a professional 3rd-party data recovery software, such as iBoysoft Data Recovery, to retrieve your lost data in a reliable way as soon as possible.