Article: Windows 10 and the Black Screen of Frustration

Not quite as catchy I admit, but as there was no answer to this question apart from “smash it and start again” I’ll start from the start.

What leads up to this scenario could be almost anything: failing hard drive, ungraceful reboot, trip and fall while carrying a laptop – I’m not judging, all been there.

After a reboot, upgrade, or one of the above incidents, and one quite harmless little disk check later, and you now have either a black screen, a cursor and no taskbar, or (after a sign in) a semi-normal screen with a taskbar but Explorer (the shell, not file explorer) seems to be misbehaving. Other symptoms: Task Manager is also not working.

Sometimes (I found this in Safe Mode) you’ll see the shell trying to restart

The application is not responding, wait or end task

to which you will then be treated to this ad infinitum.

The cause: your ProgramData folder is now consigned to the found.000\ dustbin – if you find it, uproot it and replant it in the root of your Boot drive, Bob should return to being your Uncle.


  1. Once you are in the BSOF, Ctrl-Alt-Del is still functioning – do this.
  2. Shift-Power Icon-Restart, then make your way to Command Prompt.
  3. CD to found.000 (or whichever is the most recent of these you have) in the root of your C: or boot drive.
  4. Review each lost folder: one of these will have numerous subfolders with software names, a Microsoft subfolder, and others – this is likely your missing ProgramData folder, and you should rename it to suit.
  5. Now review your C drive root: if there is a ProgramData file here, rename it delete it; otherwise rename the (almost empty) new ProgramData folder.
  6. Now

> move c:\found.000\ProgramData c:\

Now try a reboot – I hope you’ll be pleasantly surprised.