Thursday, February 24, 2011

Windows 7 Service Pack 1 Boot Failure

Windows 7 SP1 has been released, but upon installing it, I found my system no longer boots into Windows. I get the BLACK screen of death, with the cursor flashing helplessly in the upper-left corner and no hard drive activity.

The dreaded BLACK screen of death, complete with animated cursor!

There were no obvious issues during the installation of the service pack, so I'm going to try using the BOOTREC utility in the Windows Recovery Environment in case some aspect of the service pack install, or some weird twist of fate, decided to damage the master boot record rendering my system unusable, for now.

Please feel free to share your own Windows 7 SP1 experience, whether good, bad, or ugly!

-= UPDATE =-

As I inserted my Windows 7 disc and rebooted, ready to attempt a repair through the recovery environment, I remembered something.

Before updating to Windows 7 SP1, I made a change on my system to enable AHCI (Advanced Host Controller Interface), which enables two of the best features of SATA, hot swapping and native command queueing. I'd just recently replaced the last of my old IDE hard drives and went full SATA.

To see whether this made a difference, I entered my system BIOS and changed the setting for "Configure SATA as" from IDE to AHCI, and then rebooted.

No more black screen
, my system successfully booted into Windows! 

Here are the steps I'd used originally to enable AHCI:
  1. Exit all Windows-based programs.
  2. Click Start, type regedit in the Start Search box, and then press ENTER.
  3. If you receive the User Account Control dialog box, click Continue.
  4. Locate and then click the following registry subkey:


  5. In the right pane, right-click Start in the Name column, and then click Modify.
  6. In the Value data box, type 0, and then click OK.
  7. On the File menu, click Exit to close Registry Editor.

I stumbled upon a Microsoft support article (922976) which is slightly different in that it specifies an additional registry key that may be modified in order to enable AHCI.


In my system's registry, the subkey value for Msahci I had changed to 0, but IastorV was still set to its default value, 3. I changed the latter so that both subkey values are set to 0, then rebooted, entered the BIOS, and this time changed the SATA setting from IDE back to the desired AHCI, saved changes, and rebooted once more.

Now, my system appears to be back to normal.
From this troubleshooting misadventure, it seems like the question of whether Windows 7 service pack 1 may want just ONE of those two registry subkey values set to 0 is no longer a question but a fact as far as AHCI goes.



Anonymous said...

Try unplugging any usb devices and rebooting. That usually is a symptom of a PC trying to boot to an external usb device and hanging.

Unknown said...

It seems to work as well at the Windows Phone 7 update that bricks the phone. I prefer Windows XP over Windows 7 (altho I have both) because things don't work as well under Windows 7. You have convinced me that I don't want anything to do with SP1.

Darth Continent said...

@Anonymous: Yeah I've encountered this before on an older Compaq laptop, I had a USB stick plugged in and it gave this same result, but upon unplugging it and rebooting the boot proceeded normally. If the repair process doesn't work out, I'll unplug everything USB, at that point I'll have nothing to lose.

@jmoller99: I'm thinking I should've done what I usually do with any new release of Windows itself and just waited for a few months of "shakedown" time, rather than being one of the first to try updating. So far I'm liking Windows 7 vs XP, but if I can't find an easy fix, downgrading will definitely become an option!

Unknown said...

After sp1 was installedalmost half my programs didn't work(would become unresponsive after a couple of minutes) and nearly all my games would lock up explorer.exe before their logo appeared

Darth Continent said...

@Denver: You might want to scan your system for malware, just in case.

The other day I got hit with malware which Microsoft Security Essentials and SpyBot both missed, but a tool named PrevX (by a subsidiary of Webroot, makers of SpySweeper) found and removed it. The malware exhibited behavior similar to what you're describing with the lockups and slowdowns of running apps.

Also it probably would be a good idea to check for updated drivers for all your hardware, particularly video, chipset, and network adapter, in case something SP1 fixed in Windows has allowed an issue with an older driver to emerge.

Anonymous said...

This same thing happened to me. It was worse tho. My computer froze up after 10 minutes of use. No hard drive activity just frozenin time. No way to get into reboot etc. Then I had to hard shut it down and it did what u said. Woulnt load startup repair nor safe mode nor windows. Tried using ubuntu from disk and the hard drive wasn't there. In fact running the windows through recovery disk to try to reformat it said the harddrive was corrupted or missing. After a week of this I called Sony and they said this has been ongoing and they sent me a mew hard drive. They said they'd had to send out thousands of them and the service pack one has been killing hard drives but they still aren't sure how. They have computer forensics teams researching all these drives to find out. The comp of mine is four months old so luckily it was under warranty. I was told by Sony not to install sp1 UNTIL they send messages about it. Other computer companies are warning the same thing. Use at own risk. Its a hard drive killer.

Doctor House said...

hey mate, what sono told you is total BS. I am a system administrator and i have updated hundreds of Win7 machines flawlessly. But it is true that i am in front of 2 totally identical notebooks and i am experiencing the same issue: blank screen. The funny thing is that the lcd seems to turn off just before the windows GUI goes on. in the past hours and last night i spent some time searching for a possible solution... i have found none..y. The only thing i can suggest you is to try to download the updated iso image of windows 7 as it integrates SP1.

In minutes i am going to reinstall... i'll let you know...