Computer screen goes black

Eternal_Student
Eternal_Student used Ask the Experts™
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Occasionally, it seems once a week my computer screen just goes black and I have to reboot.

It will do this 2 or 3 times then be OK.

What is the problem here ... how can I diagnose what the problem is?

I've had a good look inside at everything and it seems fine, everything seated properly, nothing is over-heating.  
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Commented:
Maybe you could do a system restore to the time when it did not have this problem. Maybe swap the graphic card for another. If it is onboard, grab an old pci card and try this for a few weeks. Run a diagnostics program and see if any error come's up.
Did you check the monitor cable, maybe this is the problem?

Author

Commented:
Monitor cable is fine.

Is there a diagnostic program you would recommend?
Most Valuable Expert 2015
Commented:
Possibly your PC is going into hibernation or standby mode, and it can't wake up anymore? Disable any such modes and then see if it happens again. If not, check for driver updates from your manufacturer's web site and install them, and also look for BIOS upgrades. After all that has been upgraded (also make sure you have done all windows updates), enable those standby or hibernation again and check if it is now fixed.
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Commented:
I would suspect the monitor is failing. Next time it happens, try just cycling the power on the monitor to see if it comes back on.
Top Expert 2013
Commented:

Author

Commented:
The monitor light does flick on and off. Nothing happens if I try and click it. The comp sounds like it is still running OK.

Is there any way of seeing a log in windows perhaps where this could show the error?

Author

Commented:
Also, it might be worth noting that I had this problem quite a while ago and I cleaned out all the dust inside the case and made sure everything was seated properly. This fixed it for some months until now where it seems to be resurfacing again.

Commented:
Are you working in a particularly dusty environment?   Even if you're not its certainly worth having a look inside the cabinet again.
Check fan operation, and for dust around the CPU & heatsink.
Commented:
Also have a look in the event logs to see if there's anything applicable >>
"How to view and manage event logs in Event Viewer in XP":
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/308427

If you find nothing, crash dumps are normally located in
c:\windows\minidump\    
or  %systemroot%\minidump\

It (or they) will contain information about the bugcheck that may have been generated.
Can you paste the latest dump(s) in the "File" box below and i'll take a look.  

If you see no minidump(crash dump)>
Enable Minidump's in Windows XP:
http://www.cakewalk.com/Support/ProblemReporter/minidump.asp

You may need to disable auto restart:
Right click My Computer > Properties > Advanced > Startup and Recovery Settings and uncheck Automatically Restart.

Commented:
You can use speedfan for monitoring temperatures> : http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php 

Other possibilities ... you could check for latest Graphics driver, from the appropriate manufacturer.

Author

Commented:
It isn't a dusty environment but looking at my processor and the heatsink, that does look a bit dusty.

I had a look in the event viewer and the error appears as the following:

Source: ati2mtag
Description: CRT invalid display type

Most Valuable Expert 2015

Commented:
Are you using a CRT display, not an LCD? Make sure your display properties don't exceed what the monitor can actually cope with. LCD's normally have a refresh rate of not more than 60Hz, while on CRT's the refresh rate depends on the resolution used. Check the monitor's specs for more details.
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
Do the Caps lock/num lock keys light up when the screen is black?

Can you ping it from the network (if applicable)?

Can you read shares from it when this happens?

Will explain if it is just the monitor/display adapter, or if the whole system is locked up.....

Commented:
If you're still not resolving the problem you could try temporarily adjusting the graphics card "Hardware Acceleration" ... or even turning it off.  This at least should help confirm the cause.

Right click Desktop > properties > settings > advanced > 
then ... select 'Troubleshooting'.
Adjust hardware acceleration to a lower setting.
Reboot, and monitor the situation.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
ati2mtag refers to the miniport driver, so try updating it -
what system is this?

http://www.file.net/process/ati2mtag.sys.html

Author

Commented:
windows xp
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
what pc model i mean ?
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
"Do the Caps lock/num lock keys light up when the screen is black?

Can you ping it from the network (if applicable)?

Can you read shares from it when this happens?

Will explain if it is just the monitor/display adapter, or if the whole system is locked up....."

Id like the answers to these, as it will offer us insight to more specifics of whats happening....

Commented:
@ Eternal_Student ... have you been able to make any progress with this black screen problem?
I have just had a similar problem with a client. It turned out that one of the capacitors on the mother board had blown. Hard to see initially, but the top was deformed and a small amount of black dust around its top. The machine would work for a bit, maybe even a few days, then just stop for no reason.
All updates done, no Virus / Spyware. Check Disk all ok. RAM good and so on. the only thing we found was this one problem.
It could be worth taking a closer look at the board just in case you have a similar problem.

Author

Commented:
Strange as this sounds but when I lie the computer flat so that the motherboard is flat everything works fine and I dont get this problem!

How does that figure?

Commented:
If you're convinced its nothing to do with air cooling around the motherboard, then it could be a dry joint, or H/R (high resistant joint), on a motherboard connecting wire or connector.  Suggest resoldering connections, as appropriate.

Or, the weight of a wiring loom 'pulling' at a motherboard 'dry joint' connection, when you have it lying flat.

Commented:
In that case a line on your motherboard is broke, so it will only work correctly when the motherboard is absolutely flat or bend in a certain way. Or, your processor is not firmly seated in the socked. Or a pci/AGP/PCI-express card is not seated correctly and gets seated correctly becease you lay down your case. Or there is a cable or metal thing that rests on the motherboard when the system is up.

Author

Commented:
haha ... crazy, all I know is it's working!

Author

Commented:
Just wanted to say thanks everyone for your help.

I think I need to upgrade my machine fairly soon, so I don't think I will attempt to address this issue just now.

I will award points accordingly in the near future.
Top Expert 2013

Commented:
you may find that disassembling everything, and reeassembling it cures the problem, since it was probably a bad contact
Most Valuable Expert 2011
Top Expert 2011

Commented:
"Strange as this sounds but when I lie the computer flat so that the motherboard is flat everything works fine and I dont get this problem!"

Going out on a limb here......

Maybe a bearing is going out on the fan, and an angle is making it stick....   ????>>>???>>>???

Commented:
Lee,
Although Eternal_Student stated that ...
<quote> I don't think I will attempt to address this issue just now <unquote>, some good advice had already been offered, and may well have resolved the problem.

Therefore may i suggest that if he doesn't reply, the question is archived and points distributed equally between dmeeren, rindi, edbedb, nobus, Jonvee, johnb6767, and marksitwell.  
Thanks.
LeeTutorretired
Top Expert 2009

Commented:
This question has been classified as abandoned and is closed as part of the Cleanup Program. See the recommendation for more details.

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