Windows 10 Black Desktop with Cursor Fixed

Symptoms

My Cool ‘n’ Quiet workstation was working fine until some point last night where it showed a black screen with moveable cursor. Attempts to bring up the Task Manager were unsuccessful – the cursor briefly changed to indicate busy state, but Task Manager would not appear.

This morning, the system would boot, displaying the Windows logo, but I was stuck on a black screen showing only my cursor.

I did not make any changes to hardware, and was not aware of any changes made to my system.

Initial Troubleshooting

I plugged my secondary display into my workstation’s graphics card and attempted to tinker with Windows 10’s Project settings (Windows key + P) to no avail.

Stumbling Across a Solution

I poked around within my workstation’s UEFI and focused on Boot Option Priorities.

Last Known Good Configuration

Boot Option Priorities
#1 Windows Boot Manager
#2 SATA: My Windows 10 OS Drive
#3: UEFI: Built-in EFI Shell

I modified Boot Option Priorities:

  • Swapping positions of #2 and #1 resulted in failure to boot
  • Tested UEFI, Windows Boot Manager, and finally SATA. This time, I was greeted by the familiar login screen

Upon login, Windows displayed a notification stating that updates were installed.

Update history (Settings > Update & security > Windows Update > Update History) showed that an updated NVIDIA display driver (NVIDIA – Display – 12/29/2016 12:00:00AM – 21.21.13.7653) was installed last night – could this have been the culprit?

Confirmed that this updated NVIDIA display driver is shown for my graphics card within Device Manager.

After successful boot, I restarted my workstation, and reverted changes to Boot Option Priorities. I was still able to boot cleanly into Windows 10.

I ultimately modified Boot Option Priorities. They are now set to

  1. UEFI
  2. Windows Boot Manager
  3. SATA