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How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

Have you ever started Windows 10, and the only thing that appeared was a black screen with a white cursor? Here is how to get the Windows 10 Graphic User Interface (GUI) to appear.

How to fix the Windows 10 black screen with a white mouse cursor

Usually, when you log in to Windows 10, the Start menu, Taskbar, and the Desktop will appear with all of your favorite icons. But there may be a time when all that appears is a black screen with a white mouse cursor.

What has happened is the GUI has failed to load. And believe it or not, it is the File Explorer. But getting a GUI to appear is easy.

How to get the Graphic User Interface (GUI) to appear in Windows 10

  1. Press CTRL + ALT + DEL at the same time. This will bring up the Windows 10 lock screen.
    The Windows 10 lock screen
  2. On the Windows 10 lock screen, left-click on Task Manager.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager without running apps
  3. If when Task Manager appears, there is nothing showing but a message that says There are no running apps, left-click on the arrow next to More Details in the lower left-hand corner. Task Manager will now show all details.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager with running apps
  4. In the upper left-hand corner of Task Manager, left-click on File, then Run new task.
    The Windows 10 Task Manager Create new task dialog box
  5. In the Create new task form that appears, type in Explorer and left-click on OK.
  6. The Desktop, Start menu, and Taskbar will now appear.

Easily create, edit, and burn CD, DVD, and BD disks with AnyBurn

Are you looking for a program that can create, edit and burn Compact Disk (CD), Digital Video Disc (DVD), and Blu-ray (BD) disks? One that has a simple to use interface but has a ton of features? If so, then look no further than AnyBurn by Power Software.

The main screen inside of AnyBurn

Now I have been working with different disk formats for over twenty (20) years and have never found a more straightforward program than AnyBurn. Its simple user interface so easy to navigate that it is hard to go back to some of the disk programs I have used in the past.

With AnyBurn, you can create, edit, and burn various types of disk formats, including data and audio. It can even erase rewritable disks too. If it has to do with CDs, DVDs, or BDs, AnyBurn can handle it. AnyBurn can work with over 25 image file formats. Some of the formats include DMG, ISO, IMG, and VCD formats.

The settings screen inside of AnyBurn

There are a couple of cool features that make AnyBurn stand out. The first one is to create a bootable USB drive from image files. With more computers not having optical drives, making a bootable USB drive from an image file, like an ISO, is essential.

The second outstanding feature is being able to rip music from audio CDs and burn audio CDs from your existing music library. If your car stereo has a CD drive, this can be a fantastic feature.

AnyBurn runs on several different Windows versions, from Windows XP to Windows 10, and is available in both 32 and 64-bit versions. There is even a portable version that requires no installation. Just extract the files to a folder, and you are ready to go. It is great for having on a flash drive.

Now the best thing about AnyBurn is that it is free to use for personal or business use. For more information on AnyBurn, follow the link below.

AnyBurn

Synchronize folders and files on your Windows computer with Allway Sync

Are you looking for an easy way to synchronize your files to another computer on your network? Or maybe you want to sync to an external drive or the cloud. If so, then take a look at Allway Sync by Botkind.

Synchronize folders and files on your Windows computer with Allway Sync

For years now, I have been using synchronization programs to make an exact copy of my files on network drives and external devices. Over ten years ago, Microsoft released a straightforward file synchronization program called SyncToy.

But Microsoft dropped support for SyncToy a few years ago, and eventually, it stopped working correctly. That is when I started looking for another synchronization application and found Allway Sync.

Windows 10 does have a built-in file sync program called File History, but it is pretty basic. With File History, you can sync to a network folder or external drive, but not to the cloud.

On the other hand, Allway Sync can sync to a local or network folder, FTP / SFTP server, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and several different cloud storage types. You can even sync to a single archive file.

The user interface inside of Allway Sync
The user interface inside of Allway Sync

The user interface is simple to use and easy to understand. The sync options are quite extensive and include data compression and encryption. You can set up multiple sync jobs and customize each job to meet your needs.

The sync job options menu inside of Allway Sync
The sync job options menu inside of Allway Sync

The options for sync jobs include synchronization rules, automatic synchronization, inclusion and exclusion filters, file versioning, error handling, and custom actions.

I have several clients that use synchronization software for backing up files. The primary reason is that files can be recovered quickly, as they do not have to be decrypted. Just copy the file you want to be recovered back to the original folder.

Allway Sync is free for personal use, with a limit of 40,000 files per 30 day period. But for unlimited file synchronization, purchasing a Pro license is recommended. FYI - A pro license is not that expensive (under $30).

There are a couple of different editions of Allway Sync, a desktop edition for installing on desktops, laptops, and servers. There is also an edition, Allway Sync 'n' Go, a portable version for installing on external drives.

Allway Sync comes in 32-bit and 64-bit versions compatible with Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2016, and Windows Server 2019. They even have versions that will run on Windows 2000 and Windows XP.

For more information on Allway Sync by Botkind, click on the link below.

Allway Sync by Botkind

How to clone the drive in your Windows computer

Are you running out of free space on the drive in your computer? Or are you thinking about getting a faster drive for it? If so, cloning the drive in your computer might be just the answer, and here is how to do it.

How to clone the drive in your computer

Note: Drive cloning is a procedure that computer technicians perform regularly. If you do not feel comfortable doing any of the following procedures, please contact a local computer service company like Geeks in Phoenix.

When installing a new drive in your computer, you have two (2) options; you can perform a fresh installation of the operating system and all the programs. Or you can clone the current drive to the new one and preserve the installed operating system and programs.

Since many people do not remember how they installed their programs or where the installation media/software keys may be, cloning their existing drive is the best option. The complexity of cloning a drive depends on the type of drive, the form factor, and the current and new drive interface.

There are several types of drives; the most popular are SSD (Solid State Drive), HDD (Hard Disk Drive), and SSHD (Solid State Hybrid Drive). There are also several different drive interfaces; the most popular are SATA (7 pin connection cable) and M.2 (keyed socket). HDDs and SSHDs use a SATA interface; SSDs can use either SATA or M.2.

Different types of computer drives

There are several different form factors (physical size) of drives; HDDs and SSHDs come in 3.5" and 2.5" (width), SSDs come in 2.5" (width) when using a SATA interface, and 30 to 110 MM (length) when using an M.2 interface. Drives that come in 2.5" form factor can also have different heights (thicker); 9.5 MM is standard, and 7 MM is used in ultra-thin laptops.

 
Drive types
 
SSD
HDD
SSHD
Form Factor
3.5"
X
X
2.5"
X
X
X
M.2
X
Interface
SATA
X
X
X
M.2
X

If you are upgrading a laptop drive (2.5"), check with the manufacturer on what size is recommended. If you are upgrading an M.2 drive, check with the manufacturer (system/motherboard) on what interface (SATA 3, AHCI, or NVMe), key notch (B, M, or B & M) and length is supported.

Now the first thing you need to do is find out the model number of your current drive. Once you have the model number, you can search on Google and get all of its specifications. You can find the model number in Computer Management.

How to open Computer Management

  1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo menu
  2. Scroll down the list of programs and left-click on Windows Administrative Tools
  3. Left-click on Computer Management

or

  1. Right-click on the Start Windows logo menu to bring up the Power Users menu
  2. Left-click on Computer Management

Once you have the Computer Management console open, left-click on Disk Management and locate the disk that has the partition with the drive letter C:. Right-click the disk number (usually Disk 0) select Properties from the context menu. On the General tab, you will find the drive model number.

Once you have your existing drive specifications, it is time to decide on a replacement drive. Are you going to replace it with one that has the same form factor and interface or not. Your decision will determine how you clone your drive, and there are two (2) ways to do it.

Now it is just a matter of getting another drive with the same data capacity as your existing drive. You can get one with a smaller capacity, but you would have to shrink the partition(s) on the drive before cloning it. You can get one with a larger capacity (recommended), but you may or may not have to manually expand the partition(s) after you are done. Some drive manufacturers (WD, Seagate, and Samsung) cloning software will automatically do that.

There are two (2) different scenarios, upgrading your existing drive to the same form factor and interface or upgrading your existing drive from SATA to M.2. Doing an upgrade that involves just SATA drives is relatively simple; M.2 drives are a bit more complicated.

If you decide to upgrade to an M.2 drive, you will need to find out what type of M.2 drive your motherboard can support before purchasing it. You need to find out the local interface (SATA3, AHCI, or NVMe), width/length, and keying. You will also need the hardware (standoff and screw) to mount it to the motherboard.

SATA drives can be connected to your computer using internal SATA and power cables (desktop) or external USB docking stations / external drive enclosures (desktop or laptop). Since M.2 drives use sockets with PCI-e buses for power and transferring data, they have to be directly connected to the motherboard.

There are M.2 to USB adapters, but they can be expensive and only support specific key notches. For cloning SATA to M.2 or M.2 to M.2, I recommend using the drive-to-image method (see below).

  • Drive-to-drive. This is the method you would want to use if you are cloning your existing drive to another drive with the same interface (SATA to SATA).
  • Drive-to-image. This is the method you would want to use if you are cloning your existing drive to a different interface (SATA to M.2)

Drive cloning software

A few drive manufacturers have the software you can download to clone your drive, but at least one of the drives (source or destination) has to be one of theirs. And a few of the programs you can use to create bootable media. Here are a few of the drive cloning programs available.

Western Digital - Acronis True Image

Seagate - DiskWizard

Samsung - Data Migration

Ultimate Boot CD (bootable media)

R-Drive Image

Hardware required for drive cloning

  • Docking station
  • External hard drive
  • Flash drive for creating bootable media

Different hardware you might use when cloning a computer drive

Drive-to-drive cloning

This is probably the easiest way to clone a drive. The first thing you have to do is install the cloning software on the computer with the source drive you want to clone. If you decide to use the UBCD, you will need to create the bootable media.

Then connect the destination drive by either attaching using a docking station / external case (laptop or desktop) or shutting down the computer and installing it (desktop).

Once you have both drives attached to the computer, you can boot the system normally or use bootable media and start the drive cloning program. Follow the software instructions and be ready to shut down your computer as soon as the software completes cloning the drive.

You will need to remove or detach the source drive from the computer, as both of the drives will have the same boot signature. If you cloned a SATA drive to another SATA drive, connect the destination drive to the connection that the source drive was on. You should be ready to boot your computer on the new drive.

Drive-to-image cloning

This procedure does require a few more steps to complete, but it does also have more options. One of the advantages of this type of drive cloning is changing your computer's primary drive interface. The disadvantage is you may have to expand/recreate partitions manually.

The first thing you need to do is install the cloning software on your computer and then create bootable media using it. You will need the bootable media to restore the disk image or disk backup to the new drive.

The next thing you will need to do is use that same cloning program to create a drive image / drive backup of your primary (boot) drive to an external hard drive. Once that is complete, safely remove the external hard drive from your computer and shut it down.

Now that your computer is turned off, uninstall the existing drive and install the new drive. Once the new drive is in place, boot your computer using the bootable media you created and proceed to restore the disk image / disk backup to the new drive.

If the new drive is larger than the old one, the cloning software may prompt you to expand the primary partition. If it does, let the software do it. If not, you may have to expand it manually using Disk Management inside of Windows.

Windows creates a hidden recovery partition right behind the primary partition. If the cloning software does not put that hidden partition at the end of the new drive and expand the primary partition, you will have to do it manually.

I use R-Drive Image for drive cloning, and it allows me to restore a complete drive image or individual partitions. When I run into the hidden recovery partition, I usually will restore all of the partitions except for the last one, the hidden recovery partition.

Since the system does not require the hidden recovery partition to operate, I boot it up on the new drive and expand the primary partition using Disk Management to fill up almost all of the remaining free space.

I leave a little more than enough free space to restore the hidden recovery partition. I then boot the computer back up on the R-Drive bootable media and restore the hidden recovery partition into the remaining free space.

For more information on upgrading computer drives. click on the following links.

How to upgrade the hard drive in your computer

How to upgrade your computers hard disk drive to a solid state drive

How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

When it comes to using Windows 10, the Start menu app tiles are a popular way to open some of your favorite programs. But what happens if the app tiles stop functioning correctly? Here is how to repair the Start menu apps.

How to repair the Windows 10 Start menu apps

The Start menu apps are not standard desktop Windows programs; they are Universal Apps, UWP (Universal Windows Platform), to be exact. They are designed to run on all Microsoft devices, including Xbox, Surface Hub, and HoloLens. Microsoft has set quite a few of them as default apps in Windows 10 for opening photos, videos, music, etc.. So when they stop working, it can be a significant problem.

The steps outlined in this article should be taken in the order listed. Remember to restart your computer between each step so that changes have a chance to take effect. The links to the blogs referenced in each stage are highly detailed and will open in new browser tabs. That way, you don't have to worry about trying to get back to this article.

Reinstall the Start menu apps

This step is one of the most straightforward procedures and should fix the Start menu apps most of the time. All you have to do is copy a string of text and paste it into an Administrative PowerShell console.

There are several ways to open an Administrative PowerShell. Here are a few of the most popular

  1. Open an Administrative PowerShell using one of the following procedures.
    • Bring up the Start menu by left-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Scroll down to the Windows PowerShell folder and left-click on it.
    • Right-click on Windows PowerShell and select Run as Administrator on the context menu that appears.
    or
    • Bring up the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button.
    • Left-click on the Windows PowerShell (Admin) link.
    or
    • In the search box to the right of the Start Windows logo button type PowerShell.
    • In the right-hand column of the search results, left-click on Run as Administrator directly below Windows PowerShell.
  2. You will get a prompt stating Do you want to allow this app to make changes to your device? Left-click on Yes.
  3. Copy and paste the following text into the PowerShell window.
    Get-AppXPackage -AllUsers | Foreach {Add-AppxPackage -DisableDevelopmentMode -Register "$($_.InstallLocation)\AppXManifest.xml"}
  4. When the script is done running, close the PowerShell window by typing exit and press enter.
  5. Restart your computer.

Don't worry if a couple of errors are generated while running the PowerShell command. It happens even on a clean Windows 10 installation. If numerous errors are generated, then you may need to proceed with the following steps.

I once had a system that the Start menu apps would not reinstall because the Windows Security Service would not start. I had to repair it before I could get the Start menu apps working again. Remember that once you complete any of the following procedures, restart your computer and rerun the PowerShell command.

Check the drive for errors

There is a possibility that the Start menu apps are not functioning correctly because there are errors on your C:\ drive. Running a quick standard disk check may be just the thing your computer needs to get the Start menu apps running again.

And even if it doesn't fix the problem with the apps, it is always an excellent procedure to do before the next step. Here's how to run a standard drive check in Windows 10.

  1. Open File Explorer using one of the following:
    • Left-click on the File Explorer icon (manilla folder) on the Taskbar.
    • Press the Windows logo key Windows logo + E at the same time.
    • Use the Power User menu by right-clicking on the Start Windows logo button and selecting File Explorer.
  2. In the left-side column left-click on This PC.
  3. In the right-side column right-click on the drive you want to check and select Properties.
  4. Left-click on the Tools tab.
  5. Under Error checking left-click on Check.
  6. Left-click on Scan drive.

If you get an error when trying to run a standard drive check, you may have to perform an advanced check. Here are all of the details on how to do it.

How to check your drive for errors in Windows 10

Check system files for corrupt or missing files

Now some of the files the Start menu apps require to operate correctly may be missing or gotten corrupted. Windows 10 has a utility called System File Checker (SFC) that can detect and repair problems with files required by Windows 10 for properly operation.

Let me forewarn you that you may have to run SFC more than once to fix some of Windows 10 files. You may even have to start your computer in safe mode to get SFC to repair Windows 10. Here's how to run a basic SFC scan:

  1. Open an Administrator Command Prompt using one of the following.
    1. Left-click on the Start Windows logo button.
    2. Scroll down the program list and then left-click on the Windows System folder to expand.
    3. Right-click on Command Prompt.
    4. On the context menu that appears, hover your cursor over More and then left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
    or
    1. In the search box next to the Start Windows logo button, type Command Prompt.
    2. In the list of results, the Command Prompt should be highlighted.
    3. In the right-hand column under Command Prompt, there is an options menu. Left-click on Run as administrator. If you're prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.
  2. Type sfc /scannow into the Admin Command Prompt and press enter.

And in the worst-case scenario, you may have to replace a corrupt file or two manually. Luckily there is a way to determine what files SFC repairs and what ones it cannot. The following article has all of the details on how to go about using SFC to its fullest potential.

Check Windows 10 system files with System File Checker

Perform an in-place upgrade of Windows 10

The next step to getting the Start menu apps to working again involves doing an in-place upgrade of Windows 10. Even though it sounds kind of scary, it is relatively simple.

When performing an in-place upgrade, your documents, pictures, and videos stay perfectly safe. And you can keep all of the installed programs too. The only downside is the default programs for specific file types revert to Windows 10 defaults. To me, that is no biggie. The following article gives all of the details on how to do an in-place upgrade.

How to repair Windows 10 by doing an in-place upgrade

Reset Windows 10

This step is the completely last resort to fixing the Windows 10 Start menu apps. I defiantly don't recommend it, but I do have to suggest it (reluctantly) as an option. With resetting Windows 10, you can keep all of your documents, pictures, and videos. But all of the programs that did not come with Windows 10 will be gone. The following article gives all the details on how to reset Windows 10.

How to reset Windows 10

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Geeks in Phoenix is an IT consulting company specializing in servicing laptop and desktop computers. Since 2008, our expert and knowledgeable technicians have provided excellent computer repair, virus removal, data recovery, photo manipulation, and website support to the greater Phoenix metro area.

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