This article is being written to help all those whose computer screen simply goes blank. While it happened specifically on a HP Pavilion ZV5120US model running Windows XP, it appears that it might happen to anyone. I did a lot of research on this subject and I thought I will summarize my findings for the benefit of those who experience similar problem.
As I was working on my laptop, suddenly the screen started to fade. At that point nothing worked (no keys, no mouse activity). I waited for a few seconds and everything seemed normal. Then a few minutes later, it happened again and it did not come back. I restarted the computer several times but nothing happened. I could not even seen the HP or Windows logos.
What did I do?
Research showed that Windows XP had crashed. So I tried to start the computer in the safe mode but since I could see nothing on the screen, I was helpless. After some more research on Microsoft’s website and other computer websites/forums, I was told to use the Operating Sytems Disk to fix the problem. In fact, I saw nothing on my screen. I imagined (based on all kinds of information on the web) that the problem could be with Windows XP or hard drive but what really frustrated me was that since I could not see anything I could neither get into safe mode or BIOS mode.
The wonderful people at HP were useless. Using the help section on their website, they advised that it was a hardware problem and I would need to ask them to repair it for me. Since the laptop is out of warranty I knew that HP would screw me big time.
As a final try, I got hold of an old CRT monitor and plugged it into the laptop. Wow, everything seemed just fine. So it was my LCD screen that was dead and it looks like all this while my computer was probably getting into the safe/BIOS modes but I just couldn’t see it.
I am told by a technician friend of mine (and confirmed through more research) that replacing a LCD screen on a laptop could be anywhere from $500 to $800. So my decision was to simply hook up my laptop to a new LCD monitor and forget that I owned a laptop.
Lessons I learned
Backup your data daily, or if you are like me who makes a living from computer, several times a day.
Computers are very complex and a lot of things can go wrong. Make sure that you can diagnose the problem before you decide to junk it. Seek the help of a computer technician if you need it.
Never over-invest in a computer. They become obsolete fast and manufacturers do not expect them to last more than a year or two. It is much better to buy a reasonable PC and replace it after 1-2 years than to buy a top of the line computer and get stuck with it for years (while it continues to give problems).
Recommended article: How to recover data from a hard disk drive crash?