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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Black screen in a Windows VM or an a physical server

Filed under: Errors,Microsoft,Troubleshooting,White Papers — Tags: , , , , , — A. Mikkelsen @ 11:31 am

Over the past few months we have seen a few Windows servers with a black screen.

  • You can’t see the logon promt
  • You get a black screen when you connect with RDP

We found that the problem was caused by a change in the Windows color scheme.

The solution is to copy the color scheme from a simular Windows servers registry and add it the VM/server that has the problem using registry to connect to a remote server.

  1. On a simular windows server locate “[HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Colors]” and export it to a file.
  2. Using the same Registry Editor connect to the remote server.
  3. Import the registry file just created or change the color scheme manually.
  4. Reboote the affected server to change the color scheme.

Default color scheme for a Windows 2003 server.
Default color scheme for a Windows XP.
Default color scheme for a Windows 2000 server.
Default color scheme for a Windows 2008 server.


  1. Thanks for sharing!

    I’ve seen this behaviour before too.
    How did you found out that it was related to the change in the color scheme?

    From my experience such servers are ok after a normal reboot without any changes to the Windows color scheme (I could be facing another problem offcourse). If it’s related to the change in the color scheme I would ask myself than: “What is causing this change in the color scheme as it happens suddenly without any user intervention?”

    I had a couple of servers suffering from these symptomps you described here. The problem didn’t return after reinstalling the VMware Tools, even if they were reported as “OK”.


    Comment by Arnim van Lieshout — Thursday, September 10, 2009 @ 12:13 pm

  2. Hi Arnim,

    We found the solution using google – it took a few days.

    We suspect that the error occures when a KB is installed but not installed 100%.
    It could also be that the error comes from an application not installing fully.

    But why it happens we haven’t been able to fully find out.

    Comment by A. Mikkelsen — Thursday, September 10, 2009 @ 12:32 pm

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