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Boot Failure: Flashing Cursor – Help!

Sunday, November 18th, 2012 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help

Dave from North Pole AK writes:

Every time I need to reboot I have to hit ESC to get to the boot menu, then click on the default location and again on the operating system. If I don’t do this I get a flashing cursor in the upper left hand corner and a black screen. I am running Windows 7 Professional as the only operating system on the computer.

I believe the problem began after installing an external (My Book) hard drive. The default boot location was changed to a virtual drive that did not exist. I was able to change the default back to my hard drive, but my computer will not boot properly without going through the above mentioned steps.

Thanks for any help you may be able to give me.

Dave, you’re a smarter man then I am! I read your question and rememberd a similar situation when I left a USB flash drive in my computer and the next time I rebooted it went to a blinking cursor. I nearly pulled my hair out going through every possibly problem till I finally said “Ok, I give up, what’s changed?” and realized it was simply my new USB device messing up the boot.

So why does this happen? Booting off a USB drive was added to modern BIOS software to allow you to use external drives to recover your PC, host a second operating system or install firmware updates. The BIOS can get stuck on reading the flash drive and not realize no operating system exists to skip to the next boot device.

How do you fix it? The easiest way is to disable booting from USB devices in the computer’s BIOS. When you first start your computer you should be prompted with a screen that says hit F2, F10, Del or any number of other keys (though those 3 are the most common) to enter setup. Press that key a few times right when the computer comes on to get into the BIOS setup. Once in the BIOS setup, look for Enable USB booting and change the setting to disabled. Exit and save settings and you should no longer have this problem.

If your BIOS does not an option to disable USB booting you can also remove USB devices from the boot order list, which will result in the device no longer attempting to boot. Find boot devices, then remove any reference to USB HDD or USB device then exit and save settings.

Hope this helps, Dave!


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2 Responses to “Boot Failure: Flashing Cursor – Help!”

  1. David L. Kennedy says:

    My new HP desktop has Win 7 Professional. While I am still learning how to move from XP to 7, I’ve been spending time with it. Last Sunday, I kept getting a message about not being able to boot do to a USB requirement. The next time I will try your solution; all that were plugged in were monitor, mouse & keyboard.

  2. Betty Knutson says:

    I have the same situation with a WD external drive. My system (Windows 8) will not boot with this drive attached. I wanted to use it with Windows File History to keep an up-to-date backup, but when this drive is attached my system is extremely slow and unresponsive, so much so that I consider it unusable, so I can’t keep it attached. I attach it weekly, run a backup, and detach it again.

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