I went to grab a file from my wife’s computer that I’ve done thousands of
times. The screen showed them, and then the screen went blank. All of the icons
went away. The screen is just white now. This week, last week, they’ve not come
back. I’ve no access to her files now. Any idea what happened? I’m running XP
Home, SP 3. In fact, we both are. I gave up on Windows 7 when nothing
In this excerpt from
Answercast #64, we look at what happens when a screen goes white and what that means.
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Can’t access files
So when you say that the screen just went white, I’m assuming you mean the
entire computer screen. That there is nothing at all visible on the
screen whatsoever. There’s no remnant of Windows.
To me, that says either of two things:
Either your computer simply crashed and it’s not coming back;
Or the connection to the monitor’s been harmed and it can’t display properly
what you’re computer is trying to display or the monitor itself has
So, I’m assuming that you’ve tried rebooting the machine. If not, reboot the
Test monitor and cables
If that doesn’t solve anything, then I would do something like take the
monitor and its cables and try them on a different computer – to make sure that
they’re working. Or the other way around, borrow a monitor, connect it to your
computer, and make sure that’s working or not.
If the replacement monitor works, that tells you that your monitor is toast.
If your monitor works on somebody else’s computer, that tells you that the
problem lies elsewhere.
Data backed up?
I’m hoping that you have backed up. If not, this is a very good reason
It’s unclear exactly what’s going on. We don’t know, for example, that your
data hasn’t been completely overwritten. So, one lesson to take away from this
is of course to start backing up and backing up regularly. That way, you’ll
have access to your files, your wife’s files, whatever, on a regular basis no
matter what happens to your computers.
Live CD boot
Finally, the other thing that comes to mind for self-diagnosis would be to
go out and grab what’s called a “Live
CD.” It’s something that you download and burn to a CD-ROM and boot from
that CD-ROM. There are several:
Ubuntu Linux is
one (that might require a live DVD; they just exceeded the size of a CD). But
there are others.
There’s the Ultimate
- There’s a bunch of different alternatives to this.
The bottom line there though is to see if you boot from some other
operating system. Does the display work? Can you see what’s on your hard disk?
Does the computer work at all?
If it does, then you’ve at least defined the problem to be probably,
software related and not hardware related. If the live CD doesn’t work at all,
then you’ve probably got yourself a hardware problem.
Unfortunately, given the description we’re working with, about all I can
suggest you do in either case (software or hardware) is that you then consider
seeing if you can’t find yourself a good local technician to have a look at the
machine. This definitely feels like one of those situations where you want to
have someone lay hands on the machine, examine the machine, poke around on the
machine physically, and see what’s going on in a way (obviously) like I can’t do
here from the other side of the internet.
Next from Answercast 64 – Malware prevents me from booting in even Safe Mode. What do I do?