Thursday, December 10, 2015

NVidia Drivers and the Windows 10 BSOD

Got my first blue screen of death in Windows 10 last week, followed shortly by several more.
It looks different in Windows 10, but who doesn't love this particular BSOD? Other than Bill.
I had no crashing issues for the first couple of weeks after the installation. When the first BSOD happened, I was playing SWTOR. I didn't pay a lot of attention to the first crash, because these things have been known to just go away on their own after a reboot. But then it happened several more times over the next few days, always while playing some game or another, and I knew I needed to do something.

Error messages on these kind of system errors are never particularly clear, but there was one useful bit of information on mine: it referenced "dxgmms2.sys". Given that the crash always happened while I was playing a game, and "dx" brings to mind Direct X, it wasn't much of a stretch to conclude that video drivers were the likely culprit. A bit of Google searching for "dxgmms2.sys" confirmed that other folks has seen similar things, and it was indeed driver-related, although most of what I found was several months old.

Something must have changed from when things were working, so I took a look at what Windows Update had been putting on my machine. In the Windows Update advanced settings, you can look at what updates were recently installed. Unfortunately, everything in the list was a "Cumulative Update" of some kind. That could mean just about anything, and I didn't really want to roll them back, as it likely included a lot of stuff not related directly to graphics drivers.

So I approached this from the other direction, and went looking for graphics drivers. I have an NVidia GeForce GTX 650 Ti Boost, so it was off to NVidia's driver site. I grabbed the latest Windows 10 driver (359.06 at that time), and installed it with the "Clean Installation" option selected. Installation went fine, but less than a day later, same problem.

If the newest driver doesn't work, try an older one. I went back to the driver downloads and picked version 358.91. Why that one? The publication date for that driver was just prior to when I started noticing the crashes. Once again, I did a clean installation of the drivers and everything looked good.

This time, it seemed to work. It's been several days and no more crashing. Hopefully NVidia and Microsoft will work out whatever is causing the problem with the newer drivers, but until then, sticking with the older drivers is working for me.

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