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Why Does My Monitor Go Dark for a Few Seconds?

Question: Leo, I’ve got an HP Pavilion H8 1017, which I love dearly. I’m on a Windows 7 operating system and it’s standalone. I use it mostly for graphic work: Photoshop, video editing, and the like. Lately, my screen goes black for about 10 seconds whenever I stop what I’m doing and open another program. I’m afraid that this may be a prelude to the blue screen of death. I do disk cleans and defrags regularly. I have McAfee protection and AOL computer checkup and backup. Please help! I don’t want my HP to become the recently departed.

A screen going dark isn’t likely to be a computer problem; it’s probably a monitor problem. Your HP is a desktop model, which means you have a separate monitor.

I have a similar problem with my machine. After doing some research, I have a couple of ideas.

Let’s start by getting some of the obvious things out of the way.

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Check the cables

Sometimes, a monitor blackout can be as simple as a loose cable between your computer and its monitor. Just jiggling the cable a bit might cause an intermittent connection, which causes the screen to go dark.

Make sure the cables are properly and securely connected.

Check the monitor

It’s not likely that this is an issue related to the computer itself, but you can rule that out easily by simply plugging in another monitor.

External MonitorIf you don’t have an extra one from another machine, borrow one from a friend. It doesn’t have to be the best monitor; you just need it long enough to connect to your HP computer for a while. Once plugged in, do what you normally do and see if the screen ever goes dark.

I suspect that you won’t see this on the new monitor. If that’s the case, then the problem is with the original monitor.

A worn-out monitor

In your question, you mentioned that you’re doing graphics and video work. To me, that says you’re doing some visually intensive tasks. Monitor quality is also probably pretty important to you.

That said, my research seems to indicate that some of the components in your monitor could be stressed, resulting in this symptom. One simple fix may be to reduce the brightness of your monitor. This may reduce how often your screen goes dark.  If you can live with a not-as-bright display, it may even lengthen the life of this monitor.

But if that’s not an acceptable option to you or you continue to experience problems, this may be an excuse to get yourself a brand new monitor.

Do this

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28 comments on “Why Does My Monitor Go Dark for a Few Seconds?”

  1. The video card/chip could be malfunctioning. My old monitor had a test screen that did not need a computer to be hooked up. It came on when the thing was turned on, but disconnected. Check the manufacture’s website for the instructions. Most new HDTV can act like a monitor.

  2. You may have heard of the capacitor problem found on a lot of motherboards ? Check your caps and if they look as if something has leaked from them OR the top has a bulge (of any amount) outwards then you have a capcitor problem. Monitors suffer from the same thing and I have fixed many monitors by replacingf all suspect capacitors.

  3. Well my build in laptop LED display does goes dark a few seconds every 5 minutes or so. It is software problem, when I’m using fast startup feature of Windows 8. Disable fast startup, problem solved, but can’t enjoy the improvement made in Windows 8.

  4. When my monitor goes black for a few seconds and comes back on I get this message: “DISPLAY DRIVER HAS STOPPED RESPONDING AND HAS RECOVERED. Display driver NVIDIA windows kernel mode driver version 185.95 stopped responding and has successfully recovered.” It happens mostly when I am accessing e-mails???

  5. Hi i am using a dell st2200l monitor with my pc . when ever i switch on another device like a fan or light in that room or any other room my monitor goes off for 2 or 3 sec and restores back . apart from that there is no other problem with my monitor.i have researched about this problem but no one was able to answer this strange problem.can you help me please

    • My guess would be that it is not your monitor with the problem, but the wiring in your house. It may simply be bad extension chords, or too many things plugged into one circuit. Over time constant electric brownouts like that will damage equipment so you’ll want to get the wiring checked out, or get some battery backups for sensitive equipment.

    • I have the same problem when I hang up my phone, but in my case I know it’s a cable that needs replacing that gets bumped. I would, of course, check the cable. A marginal connection could be susceptible to minor power fluctuations. Of course it might be a major power fluctuation, which means it’s more of an electrical problem with the house than the computer – the monitor’s just the most sensitive. A UPS would be an expensive solution, but a solution nonetheless, since it would maintain proper voltage for both the monitor and computer if the problem is systemic.

  6. My monitor goes dark for seconds and Sub D shows up in right had corner. And other times it will just blink a couple of time dark. I need to know why and if I need to do something about it.

  7. My monitor goes blank (dark) for a few seconds many times during the day and then comes back. Using a Dell Ultra HD monitor (3840 * 2160 resolution) with NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750 Ti graphics card. Using it at 30 Hz.
    Also sometimes strange red color dots appear on the monitor at random places on the monitor.
    The monitor is connected to the computer with an HDMI cable.

    Any help is highly appreciated.

    • The suggestions in the article you just commented on pretty much cover everything that you can do to diagnose the problem.

  8. I have an ASUS laptop. Mine just started doing the same. As soon as I sign into my email server, the screen goes dark for just a few seconds.
    I feel it’s more then something plugged into the computer. It happens whether I’m using an external monitor or just using the laptop.
    Something else has to be going on, it’s happening to too many, and so many different types of computer.

  9. I have a Dell UH2413 connected to a 2+ year old HP Envy i7 and my monitor intermittently blacks out when I am using the snip it tool, during selection process. The screen will disappear then reappear, and repeat until I have finished the snipping. Then it will disappear when I press copy in snip it and reappear again, usually as I am pasting into a word document. The only other program that I can remember it yapping with is Adobe Raw. Never had a problem until this year and have a problem with other applications. I have all of the basic troubleshooting steps and search the.
    Any thoughts or ideas? Thank you in advance for any assistance that you can provide.

    • Sorry for the ‘misspelling’ on my original post..the problem happened (not yapping) with Adobe Raw and has not happened with other applications, such as Excel, Nikonview, Nikon Transfer, Word, or others.

      • I may have discovered one of the problems, which is software related. I normally use the Dell Display Monitor in automatic mode to switch between color profiles when using photo editing programs versus Excel or Word, etc. Today I manually switched the profile before using Camera Raw and did not have a screen black-out issue…this program is embedded in Photoshop Elements and I could not find a way to configure for it. My guess is that Display Manager gets confused when switching out of Elements to Raw.

        I test for Snip also.

        Guess you could say this really limited to those using a Dell monitor and auto display control, if this proves out

  10. My problem is not just one monitor but few with the big smart tvs… in our company… our electrician already check if there is voltage fluctuation but using the small voltage tester analog even… and there is no fluctuation, even upgraded the amp in breaker from 30 to 60.. which lessen to only few left monitors and tv going black for few seconds sometimes rapidly… it happens only recently but in the past it didn’t.. what I thought maybe there is a trigger or someone tap.. consuming a lot of amperage… but if like that it should happen to all not only few… so what is the problem…

  11. I had that problem over years on my 2 laptops with diffrent brand (Lenovo z5070 and Monster Abra ). Even one sometimes crash with BSOD I think finally I found the solution. I am not sure what the reason behind , maybe optimus power management issue.My both laptop have nvidia gpus. My solution is keep running nVidia control panel on desktop. This keep nVidia gpu busy , because its rendering 3D nVidia symbol. This also solved crash problems at gaming. Hope it helps you.

  12. Hey! I have just built my first custom pc. It was working fine the first hour or so. But after some time I started getting black screens that would only pop up for like 1 or 2 seconds and it would keep doing it until I shut the hole computer up. I tried hooking up my monitor to another pc to see if the moniter was the problem. But no problems accured! This means something is wrong with my new built computer. I dont know what to do. Can someone please reply.

  13. I had a recent experience with my 4-year old PC monitor suffering the black screen of death. I was running Windows 10 version 1909 on a fairly new desktop PC that is used infrequently and has only a few extra software installed on it. The PC developed an unusual and intermittent problem where the monitor goes black/blank and stays black when I sign/log off from any of my user accounts.

    I scanned the PC for malware. I double-checked the cable connections, replaced the monitor-to-PC cable, and used another monitor. I adjusted the Windows power options so that the monitor never turns off and the PC never sleeps. I ran the System File Checker, chkdsk /r, and DISM scan – all was fine. Nothing fixed the problem. The only way I could get out of the black screen was to press the power button to shut down. (Since the PC was fairly new and I didn’t use it frequently, I didn’t think restoring a bare metal disk image would provide a lasting solution.)

    A check of the internet found just a few articles on this issue. The discussions were mostly over my head, but a common denominator among them was that the problem — and solution — involved the real-time antivirus software that were installed (although none of them was my antivirus, Norton). Not knowing what else to do, I did the same. I uninstalled Norton (which came preinstalled) and began using Windows Security instead. Since my problem was intermittent, I can’t be sure it’s fixed yet. But after a month, the black screen of death has not reappeared.

    I’m relieved, but I hate having to give up Norton, which continues to serve me very well on my other PC’s.

    Who would have thought this problem could be caused by an antivirus software.

  14. Hello,

    I purchased a LG 4k Screen (Model is 27 UD58-B) some months ago, and it’s always been having this VERY weird problem. The screen randomly goes black for a second (led light still on, so it’s like if the cable was briefly unplugged of if it was looking for another monitor source). Drivers have been erased and reinstalled multiple times, cables have been changed, both ports have been used (2 different HDMI and 1 DPI), problem happens whichever screen resolutions (1080, 1400, 4k, etc…).

    I first thought that the problem could only come from the screen BUT the very weird thing is that this problem happens mostly (like 98% of the times) when I’m using specific apps such as Microsoft Excel and Internet Explorer (now called Edge). When I use Excel, after a random time which can be from 30 seconds to 30 minutes, the screen starts to go black, sometimes up to 15 times in a row. At that point it will keep this behaviour until I close excel and / or restart it. I’ve been searching for an explanation for months, tried everything, the problem has always been there, but apart from that the screen works perfectly fine.

    Anyone would have a clue ? Also the screen doesn’t have this strange behaviour when used on a laptop for example.
    My graphics card is a Geforce 1050 tx low profile

    • That feels like a driver problem. Have you done out to the graphics card manufacturer’s support site to see if there are more recent drivers, and perhaps to see if others have reported similar issues?

      • Hello Leo,

        Yes unfortunately I haven’t found posts of people who have this specific problem… I have updated the new drivers many many times (I have the screen since february and I do the updates very frequently) and it never changed a thing.

        Do you think it’s possible that a very specific setting in the nvidia control panel, or a backword running process could be causing this ? This investigation is giving me nightmare and I never could return the screen for default cause it’s not actuallty faulty… but costed me a lot of bucks

  15. Hi Leo,
    I have checked my monitor and switched it out, turned down the brightness, and changed the graphics card from CPU to discrete. None of it changed anything. The cable isn’t the problem; I swapped it, and I scanned for malware, yet nothing. Any other possibilities? It happens whenever I minimize any window, yet it is not completely blank. It shows a windows 7-style bar with no name and no window. In opera what I type in the URL bar is blacked out, and what I type in the search bar is not. Thanks


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