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Properly upating NVIDIA video drivers


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#1 Casey Hardman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2177

Posted 08 November 2012 - 11:11 PM

Hey,

I've had some trouble updating my NVIDIA driver (GeForce 8600 GT) to the latest version twice in the past.

The first time, there spawned on the top and bottom of my screen menacing black lines that I still have, but I've chosen the resolution where they're the smallest.

The second time, over a year after the first time, the computer crashed and I had to use some kind of Windows recovery program to get it back, because every time I tried to "start normally" it crashed again, making me unable to get to the desktop. I thought I'd be forced to do a complete recovery that would wipe out all documents on the computer, but the last option other than that worked, thank goodness.

I still want to update my video driver, since it's like 2 years old, and I'm wondering what the best practices are before updating your video driver. I'm not very knowledgeable with computers (though I should be...), so please be descriptive. Links to helpful articles on the matter would be appreciated as well.

The computers I have are Windows Vista and Windows 7.

Thanks for reading!

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#2 Ashaman73   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 6951

Posted 09 November 2012 - 12:14 AM

For desktop GPU I always download the newest Nvidia driver of their homepage (not the videocard vendor provided drivers) and I have never any problems with it. Try to deinstall and reinstall the newest version. For laptops etc. it is often recommended to use the vendor specific drivers.

#3 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4656

Posted 09 November 2012 - 05:18 AM

Updating nVidia drivers is extremely easy and failsafe in my opinion.

Type "nvidia driver" into Google, which will bring up the download page as the first hit. Assuming you have Javascript enabled, it automatically makes the right selections in the form (although that form is nonsense, they only have a single driver anyway). Download, and double-click the installer.

Either just hit "OK", or if you're like me, hit "Custom" and disable everything except "Display Driver" (who needs PhysX and desktop extensions anyway). That's all to it. I've updated by 9800GT drivers maybe 40 or 50 times, never any problem whatsoever.

If the tray icon and the superfluous desktop menu entry annoy you, you can disable them in the "Desktop" menu inside the nVidia control panel.

If, like me, you're concerned about every crap that is launched at startup being too much, you can use autoruns to disable the NvMediaCenter and the NvDaemon thingie. I'm always doing that, except when I forget. Not sure what they even do, having or not having them seems to make no difference either way. Of course if you want the "guaranteed, working" set of features, you should not manually disable services of which you have no idea what they're doing.

Note: Usually, there is a temporary folder C:\NVIDIA (except when you specify something else in the self-extracting zip thingie) that remains after installation. Somehow this is never getting automatically deleted, although I guess it should be. Just delete it manually.

Edited by samoth, 09 November 2012 - 05:23 AM.


#4 Casey Hardman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2177

Posted 09 November 2012 - 04:57 PM

Updating nVidia drivers is extremely easy and failsafe in my opinion.

Type "nvidia driver" into Google, which will bring up the download page as the first hit. Assuming you have Javascript enabled, it automatically makes the right selections in the form (although that form is nonsense, they only have a single driver anyway). Download, and double-click the installer.

Either just hit "OK", or if you're like me, hit "Custom" and disable everything except "Display Driver" (who needs PhysX and desktop extensions anyway). That's all to it. I've updated by 9800GT drivers maybe 40 or 50 times, never any problem whatsoever.

If the tray icon and the superfluous desktop menu entry annoy you, you can disable them in the "Desktop" menu inside the nVidia control panel.

If, like me, you're concerned about every crap that is launched at startup being too much, you can use autoruns to disable the NvMediaCenter and the NvDaemon thingie. I'm always doing that, except when I forget. Not sure what they even do, having or not having them seems to make no difference either way. Of course if you want the "guaranteed, working" set of features, you should not manually disable services of which you have no idea what they're doing.

Note: Usually, there is a temporary folder C:\NVIDIA (except when you specify something else in the self-extracting zip thingie) that remains after installation. Somehow this is never getting automatically deleted, although I guess it should be. Just delete it manually.


Hey, thanks for the reply,

The method that you use is the same one that I was using to update my drivers twice before (I forgot to mention this in the original thread...sorry), and each time it caused errors, which I talked about in the original thread.

Maybe the first time was just a glitch in the driver that caused the black lines, and the second time that caused the crash was a problem with my computer? Do you have any ideas on what could cause the computer to crash during driver installation? Should I have run the NVIDIA updater in Safe Mode or something?

#5 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4656

Posted 10 November 2012 - 07:50 AM

The computer crashing is something that should not happen, ever, under normal circumstances.

A bug in the installer should at best make the installer crash and Windows showing a "Error 0x0000000C" or "Program has stopped responding" or similar error, but that is unlikely to happen. Missing access rights could make the install fail, but should show an error alert, but should not even crash the installer (I'm boldly assuming that the nVidia guys check for at least such very obvious error conditions).
The installer used is not something that's written for only one driver, but a tool that is reused many times for many driver revisions, and something that has been thoroughly tested both before releasing it and "in the field" by millions of users. It's extremely unlikely that it has any show-stopper bugs.

A driver bug (endless loop) could in principle of course cause the computer to bluescreen, but only after the driver has been installed and the computer was restarted, not while the installer is running. At least, this is in principle possible under Windows XP (in later versions, it would only cause the desktop manager to kill and restart the driver, the computer should not crash). But even if such a thing is in principle possible, it is extremely unlikely because drivers have such a huge install base (which is a gigantic field test). It is nearly impossible that such a thing goes unnoticed for longer than a day or two.

The by far most probable reason is faulty hardware. Black lines are another such thing that shouldn't happen except if the hardware is faulty. You're not overclocking, are you?

Edited by samoth, 10 November 2012 - 07:51 AM.


#6 Casey Hardman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2177

Posted 11 November 2012 - 06:54 PM

The computer crashing is something that should not happen, ever, under normal circumstances.

A bug in the installer should at best make the installer crash and Windows showing a "Error 0x0000000C" or "Program has stopped responding" or similar error, but that is unlikely to happen. Missing access rights could make the install fail, but should show an error alert, but should not even crash the installer (I'm boldly assuming that the nVidia guys check for at least such very obvious error conditions).
The installer used is not something that's written for only one driver, but a tool that is reused many times for many driver revisions, and something that has been thoroughly tested both before releasing it and "in the field" by millions of users. It's extremely unlikely that it has any show-stopper bugs.

A driver bug (endless loop) could in principle of course cause the computer to bluescreen, but only after the driver has been installed and the computer was restarted, not while the installer is running. At least, this is in principle possible under Windows XP (in later versions, it would only cause the desktop manager to kill and restart the driver, the computer should not crash). But even if such a thing is in principle possible, it is extremely unlikely because drivers have such a huge install base (which is a gigantic field test). It is nearly impossible that such a thing goes unnoticed for longer than a day or two.

The by far most probable reason is faulty hardware. Black lines are another such thing that shouldn't happen except if the hardware is faulty. You're not overclocking, are you?

Hi samoth, thanks for the answer,

From what I just read about overclocking (remember, I'm not very tech-savvy), the answer is most likely no; I've never intentionally tried to do it, and if you were to tell me to overclock, I'd have no idea how to do it. So unless something could be overclocking the computer without me knowing about it, then no, it shouldn't be happening.

The black lines I witnessed weren't as severe as some of the black lines I've read about. They don't go through the entire screen or anything. Right now, at the current resolution, there's a black rectangle at the top of the screen, and I can't move my mouse cursor past it. The tip of the cursor will stop right at the black line. So I'm pretty much losing 10-20 pixels off the top of my screen, which isn't much of an inconvenience, but I'm still curious about what the problem is. As I said, the size of the lines depends on the resolution. If I recall correctly, they'll only spawn on the top/bottom of the monitor, not anywhere else.


I've tried using the monitor settings (via pressing the buttons on the monitor) to position the screen upwards some more, but it didn't have any effect on the black lines. I would assume this means it's not a problem with the monitor, so maybe it is something to do with the hardware inside the computer like you suggested?


Now I'm kind of petrified to try and update the driver again...any advice on what to do about these issues? Would it be best to just leave the driver as it is and not attempt to update it again?

Oh, and I said "the computers I have are Windows Vista and Windows 7" in the OP, but the one that's had the errors is Vista and I think the Windows 7 (a laptop) is using an Intel card, not NVIDIA. Just wanted to clear that up.

Once again, thank you for the help!

#7 SimonForsman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5970

Posted 12 November 2012 - 04:41 AM

although that form is nonsense, they only have a single driver anyway


Actually they got multiple driver packages, older cards use different drivers than the new ones, (If you select GeForce5 FX for example you get the 175.x driver , (GF6 and up all use the same driver package though). changing the OS can also change the driver version slighty (The very latest driver is not available for Windows XP for example)
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#8 samoth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 4656

Posted 12 November 2012 - 06:32 AM

The black lines I witnessed weren't as severe as some of the black lines I've read about. They don't go through the entire screen or anything. Right now, at the current resolution, there's a black rectangle at the top of the screen, and I can't move my mouse cursor past it. The tip of the cursor will stop right at the black line. So I'm pretty much losing 10-20 pixels off the top of my screen, which isn't much of an inconvenience, but I'm still curious about what the problem is. As I said, the size of the lines depends on the resolution. If I recall correctly, they'll only spawn on the top/bottom of the monitor, not anywhere else.

But that's an entirely different thing. It's not "black lines", and it's not just the graphics card. If the mouse cursor won't go into that area, it's simply the edge of the screen.

This sounds to me like you're either using a resolution lower than the native one on a LCD that doesn't scale (this can be turned on/off in the on-screen menu on some) or an old CRT (does anyone still use these?). I remember having this kind of thing once some years ago accidentially using 1280x960 on a LCD that had a physical resolution of 1280x1024, and I remember CRTs sometimes did weird stuff to scalng the image with different resolutions and refresh rates (though I have no idea why). Having to to turn the little knobs on the bottom used to be not at all a rare thing in the 90s.

So, be sure the actual resolution in your settings is the native one before worrying about anything else.

Edited by samoth, 12 November 2012 - 06:32 AM.


#9 Casey Hardman   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2177

Posted 19 November 2012 - 06:56 PM

Recently, Windows prompted that my NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GT driver had to be updated, and that "the device wouldn't work" if I didn't update it. It won't let me play games anymore without updating the driver first.

So, I did the Recommended path of the prompt, which said it would find and install the update.
The installer came up with an error, saying the INF file could not be found or something.

So, I tried manually going to the NVIDIA website and installing the latest driver for GeForce 8600 GT, as I had before when it crashed.

Of course, it crashed again...I'd made a system restore point before installing because I thought it'd reverse the problem if it did cause a crash again, but when I start in Safe Mode, it says I don't have any restore points. When I start normally, it crashes shortly after logging onto a username, so I can't try to run System Restore in normal mode at all.

I attempted to restart the computer again because I wanted to choose Safe Mode with Networking (instead of just Safe Mode, which it was at then) and try to use Windows Update to install the driver (which states that it requires Internet access in order to find updates). However, this time, it crashed again and didn't give me the same options. It told me to either start windows normally, or use Startup Repair.

So I did Startup Repair and it said it was attempting to fix errors. It failed...

I don't really know what to do anymore. Is the computer just dead? Should I just give up and get a new computer (and seek counseling to overcome my fear of driver updates)?

Any help would be appreciated, whether it's help on getting the computer to work again, or ways to avoid it ever happening again.

#10 Bacterius   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 8315

Posted 25 November 2012 - 05:04 AM

Why don't you just get all your personal files secure on an external hard drive (either boot in safe mode and salvage everything, or if your OS is FUBAR use a live CD), grab an older driver version that you know works, reinstall Windows and install said driver? Graphics drivers don't suddenly stop working as soon as a new version is out.

Anecdote: AMD had a bug with the 12.4 catalyst driver (I think) which caused many users, me included, to bluescreen upon boot. No big deal, I just downgraded to 12.3 (which still worked perfectly) and waited for 12.5, which came out a few weeks later and worked fine.

Another anecdote: I haven't been keeping up with my driver versions lately as I'm about to trash Windows 7 and install Linux on this computer, so I'm currently running 12.8 even though 12.10 is out. You don't need the most recent driver version to function. The error message given is misleading and is just Microsoft trying to be helpful to the average user.

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