Games crashing is unfortunately a more common occurrence these days, especially with bigger publishers like EA releasing buggy and unfinished products. Fixing computers can be a daunting task, especially when you’re asked to use unfamiliar applications. This article will help you diagnose and fix the problem as well as giving you some useful free tools to make this process easier. You will need to have administrator access to the computer as we will be using tools which require Administrator permissions. There will also be a little typing in the command prompt but it’s nothing to be scared of! You will be able to copy and paste commands from the site into your command prompt to make things easier. This article is focused on fixing games crashing on Windows 8.1, 10 and 11 seeming as they’re still supported by Microsoft.
How to Fix Games Crashing – Common/Easy to Fix Hardware Problems
If your PC is restarting rather than having games crashing it’s likely to be a hardware problem or misconfiguration. We will try to eliminate the hardware first because a poorly timed crash could cause you to lose all your data. You will want to disable automatic rebooting so you can see the error message which will help you. If the PC still reboots then it’s almost certainly power related.
One quick thing to try before anything else is to make sure everything is seated properly. A CPU not being properly seated will cause issues, same with GPU or RAM. Just to make sure everything is in safely removed and re-insert your components. You will want to reapply thermal paste to your CPU after reseating, especially if it’s not been changed for a few years. Components being badly seated or wires being not quite plugged in will cause games crashing and unexpected reboots.
Overclocking is running your components above their rated speeds, usually requiring more power. Under-volting is setting your CPU to run at the lowest possible power to reduce heat. If you are running an overclocked system this could be what’s causing games crashing, same with under-volting. The easiest way to undo this is to load optimized defaults in your BIOS. To get into BIOS you need to turn on your computer and tap either the Delete or F2 key. Consult your Motherboard manual for specific instructions, BIOS and the names of settings are different between each manufacturer. Don’t forget to re-enable your XMP/DOCP profile afterwards or you ram will be running at it’s slowest speed.
Monitoring temperatures can be extremely helpful for diagnosing problems. Games crashing, blue screens and unexpected reboots can all be caused by overheating. HWInfo64 is a useful and free application with reasonably accurate sensor readings, you can download it here. Now run this program in the background while you’re playing games, it will keep note of your maximum temperatures and averages. Use Cinebench R23 to stress your CPU and Furmark to stress your GPU.
To run a stress test on Cinebench you want to click file and then preferences. Click the minimum test duration dropdown and choose 30 minutes, now click the CPU (Multi-core) button. Monitor your temperatures on HWInfo64 and how quickly it returns to normal temperatures after the stress test has finished.
To run a stress test on Furmark click on settings and type 18000000 into the benchmark duration (ms) box then press okay. Now back on the main window choose your screen resolution and 8x MSAA in the Anti-Aliasing section. Now press the GPU stress test button to begin your testing. The nice thing about furmark is it has a GPU temperature graph integrated into it at the bottom and other useful information in the top left.
If your temperatures are getting too high it’s probably time to clean out your PC. Use a soft brush (you can buy anti-static ones from Amazon) to remove any dust from your fan blades and filters. This includes the CPU fan (or radiator fans if water cooling) and your GPU fans, not just the case fans! Keeping a PC clean and keeping good airflow really helps prevent games crashing.
How to Fix Games Crashing – Completely Removing and Reinstalling Graphics Drivers
Downloading Your Drivers (AMD)
The AMD driver site is here, you can use the auto detect solution but it may not work correctly in safe mode. If you don’t install the driver in safe mode Windows will automatically download and install an older driver. This is usually what causes games crashing or system instability. To avoid this you can download the driver directly by scrolling to the bottom and selecting your GPU manually. Choose graphics in the leftmost box, then your series number, then the model number and finally your edition. Now click submit and on the new page click the plus next to your version of Windows and download the latest driver. All the drivers have version numbers and dates but it’s usually the top one that’s the latest. If you don’t know what model of graphics card you have type Device Manager into search and press enter. Now click on display adapters and your GPU will appear underneath.
Downloading Your Drivers (Nvidia)
The Nvidia driver site is here. You want to select Geforce for Product type, whichever product series your GPU is and then your model number. Operating system and language are self-explanatory and the driver type you want is GRD (Game Ready Driver). Click submit to be brought to the download page and click download. If you use Shadowplay for highlights or recording you will also need to download the Geforce Experience from here. You can install the drivers in safe mode but Geforce Experience has to be installed after you’ve rebooted back to normal.
Uninstalling Your Drivers using DDU
DDU (Display Driver Uninstaller) is an excellent utility for removing everything a GPU driver installs. It’s quite common for a GPU driver to be upgraded on top of the older driver and this can cause issues over time. These issues can cause features to not work, games crashing and in severe cases cause random reboots. Download the utility from here and unzip the files to somewhere easy to access like the Desktop. Now reboot into safe mode, if you don’t know how check here for Microsoft’s help page.
Once in safe mode run DDU (as Administrator) there will be some options it will want you to set on your first run. Make sure all the boxes are ticked in the Nvidia and AMD specific options so it removes everything. Click on the device type and choose GPU from the dropdown, it should now show either an Nvidia or AMD logo. Click on the ‘Clean and Don’t Restart’ button at the top left and wait. Progress will be shown in the log box and it can take some time, even on very fast hardware. Once it’s completed you’ll see a message in the log so close DDU. Now you want to install the Graphics drivers you downloaded earlier then reboot you PC.
How to Fix Games Crashing – Easy Fixes
Windows 8.1, 10 and 11 all have Microsoft Defender installed by default, type Windows Security into the search bar. This will bring up the Security window, you want to click on virus and threat protections and then select ‘Quick Scan’. This will scan the most common areas of your drive for any viruses, you will get a notification once it’s complete. If it found anything I’d suggest using the default removal option and then run a full scan. To perform a full scan you click on ‘More Options’ (underneath the quick scan button) and select full scan and click the button bellow. A full scan could take hours, it all depends on your drive size and speed. Removing viruses really does help to fix games crashing.
Type ‘Windows Update’ into the search bar and press enter. This will bring up a new window with a ‘Check for Updates’ button towards the top. Click on this button to search for any updates you are missing. It will automatically install updates, there are some optional updates too but they’re usually okay to ignore. You may also be required to restart your PC to finish your updates, these updates won’t be applied until after a restart.
There is also a possibility you will be offered a newer version of Windows to the one you’re currently using. If it’s a newer version of Windows 10 I’d say it’s probably worth upgrading although the update will take a while. If you’re being offered Windows 11 I’d leave it for the time being, it’s still has some compatibility problems. New versions of Windows, especially when playing older games can cause instability and games crashing.
Closing Background Applications
This is a pretty simple one, to the left of your clock is a little ^ button. If you press it a little box showing all the background apps running in your task area. Close as many of these as possible, badly coded applications can cause games crashing and other instabilities. It’s more likely to improve your performance by reducing stuttering than preventing crashes however.
Over-zealous antivirus and anti-malware solutions can also cause games crashing so you can always try disabling the protection while playing games. Unfortunately there are so many different options on the market with their own ways of doing things. You’d be best off searching google for the manufacturers FAQ/help page for instructions. Windows Defender seems to be the least egregious for causing games crashing so it might be worth uninstalling your other antivirus to see if you get better stability.
Running as Administrator
Poorly written programs, especially older games can have problems if they were written with older versions of Windows in mind. Games crashing usually happens because it wants to access or write to a restricted file or folder. For security reasons the game has to be ran in administrator mode to bypass these limits. Go to the install directory of your game and locate the application. Right click the application and chose properties, in the new window that appears click on the compatibility tab. Now tick the ‘Run this program as an Administrator’ box and press apply then okay. If it’s worked you’ll get the popup asking if it’s okay to run as Administrator every time you run it.
How to Fix Games Crashing – Checking Drive Integrity
Scanning your Drive for Errors
To fix your games crashing we are first going to use check disk to scan the drive for errors. Type CMD into the search bar, this will show you the command prompt application. On the right hand side of the search results will have an option saying ‘run as administrator’, click it. This will open up a black window with white writing, you need to type
chkdsk c: /r and then press enter. It will say it can’t lock the drive because it’s in use and asks if it can schedule one after rebooting, press Y then enter and reboot.
Before you load into Windows it should have a prompt telling you to press a key to stop the disk scan. Of course you want to ignore this and let it perform the scan! The percentage on the left side of the screen will be the current stages progress, the one on the right is the total progress. This process can take an hour or so, the bigger your drive the longer it will take and if the drives are mechanical it can take hours. Now repeat this process for your second drive if that’s where you store you games, run cmd as administrator again typing
chkdsk z: /r changing z to your games drive letter. Don’t skip scanning your games drive, if a file is being stored in a bad sector it will cause games to crash.
Checking Windows Files
Now we’re going to use the Deployment Image Servicing and Management tool and System File Checker tool to check our Windows system files. First we need to prepare the system, run CMD as administrator as before. Now type
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-image /Restorehealth and let the scan run through, this should be faster than the previous scan.
Once that scan has completed type
sfc /scannow and let it run. This will take a little longer than the previous scan, let it run all the way to see the results. This should now mean your Windows installation has been scanned and any damage repaired. If your games crashing after this it’s unlikely there’s any physical problems with your hard drive. Now we should take a look at the game files themselves!
How to Fix Games Crashing – Verifying Game Files
Verifying game files scans all the game files on your PC and compares them to the files stored on the server. If there’s a difference the file will be redownloaded so the game is identical to the current version on the servers. While it might not seem like it games crashing can easily be caused by corrupted files. The only downside is it can take a very long time to scan larger games. Similarly bugs that cause games crashing but haven’t been patched won’t be effected by verifying the files.
To verify a game on Steam you need to right click on the game in your library list (left side) and click ‘Properties’. On the window that appears click on the ‘Local Files’ option (again on the left) and click the ‘Verify Integrity of Game Files’ button. This will start the scan, this could take hours if it’s a large install on a slow drive. It will redownload any corrupted files and fix your installation automatically. Mod users may also have to reapply the mods again because any modifications to the original game files will be removed/reverted.
To verify on Origin click on my games library (to the right) then right click on the game tile and choose repair. The icon will then grey out and show a completion percentage. Once it’s finished you will get a popup/notification and you’re good to go.
To verify on uPlay/uConnect click on the game tile, then click properties (on the left side) and then click the verify files button. This will create a new window which gives you two progress bars. The top one is the current file progress, the bottom one is the total. This progress window will tell you once the files have been verified.
Epic Game Store
To verify on Epic Games Store click library on the left side, then click on the 3 dots bottom right, under the game tile. Then click verify from the popup menu. Similarly to the Origin verification the game tile will grey out and show a percentage. Unlike Origin you also get colour on the tile as a visual representation of verification progress.
To verify game files on GoG Galaxy click on installed games on the left then the icon to the right of the play button (circled in yellow). A popup menu will appear and you need to select ‘Manage Installation’ and then ‘Verify/Repair’. This will cause a progress bar to appear next to the play button, annoyingly it will just finish without any notifications.
How to Fix Games Crashing – Reinstalling Windows
Installing with USB
If you are still getting games crashing or Windows isn’t loading anymore it’s probably time for the nuclear option and reinstall Windows. I always recommend downloading the latest version of Windows 10 from their site using the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. You can download it here, you will also need a USB memory stick with at least 8GB of space on it. Be aware that all data on the drive will be deleted! The creation tool will give you a notification once it’s completed and then you need to reboot. If you reload back into Windows you need to change your boot priority so USB media is first. Your motherboard manual will have instructions on how to do this, again it’s different for each manufacturer.
Installing Using Recovery Partition
If you either don’t have a USB memory stick or don’t have one big enough there is another option. I don’t usually recommend this because it could be a much older version of Windows than you were using. This is because the recovery partition was created when you first installed Windows 10 to that computer. Just be aware older/outdated versions of Windows 10 can cause games crashing. If you can get into Windows go to Settings, then Updates and Security and then Recovery. Now select Get Started and it should reboot your computer into recovery. It will ask you if you want to save your files, choose no for a clean install.
If you can’t get into Windows at all after a few failed attempts Windows will automatically load the advanced start up menu. In this menu you need to select troubleshoot and then Reset your PC. You will again be given the option of keeping your own files, choose to destroy for a clean install. As this is likely a version or two out of date it’s imperative to do your Windows updates as soon as it’s reinstalled. This should prevent games crashing in general but especially if you’re running an older version of Windows 10.