Currently I have to reboot my system if an external monitor is hooked up for it to be correctly detected and used. I think it would be faster to restart/reset the video or display drivers instead. How do I do this under Vista?

I seem to remember from an old laptop using a Windows command-line command that would restart the wireless networking card device when it crashed. Is there something like that for video drivers?

Background/Reason Because people rightfully ask why? - This is part of a larger problem which I'm waiting for resolution on from the manufacturer. In the meantime I'm looking for the above quick fix. Actually my video card often crashes my laptop when attaching an external monitor and trying to detect or use it. No solution from vendor yet and latest drivers do the same irksome behaviour. Windows says:

A problem with your video hardware caused Windows to stop working correctly.


This is an old question, but I just found an answer to it. There is an MSDN tool called devcon that can be used to restart devices without reboot:


You need to run the command prompt with admin rights. After that, for example on my laptop this is how I restart my display driver when it gets stuck in low-power mode:

1: List my display devices

> devcon listclass display

Listing 1 device(s) for setup class "Display" (Display adapters).
PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_01D7&SUBSYS_006C1025&REV_A1\4&7D0DA8B&0&0008: NVIDIA GeForce

2: Then use the above info to enter the correct device ID for reset:

> devcon restart =display *ven_10de*
PCI\VEN_10DE&DEV_01D7&SUBSYS_006C1025&REV_A1\4&7D0DA8B&0&0008: Restarted
1 device(s) restarted.

The display will flicker and go blank for a few seconds. After that you will be returned to the desktop with the drivers restarted similar to a reboot.

3: Done. Profit.


I'm currently looking into this no reboot info from Microsoft:


Tips for Specific Device Classes This section provides tips for avoiding unnecessary reboots when installing devices of certain classes. Display Drivers. The Windows DDK provides a tool that allows driver developers to dynamically reload a display driver without rebooting. This tool, called Newdisp.exe, accelerates display driver testing during development by making reboots less necessary when updating display driver code. Newdisp.exe does not currently cause a video miniport to be reloaded; if a video miniport is changed, the system must be rebooted to install and test it. For information, see "NewDisp: Dynamic Reload of a Display Driver" in the Windows DDK.

  • It appears that NewDisp.exe isn't actually available anywhere (outside of mentions in the documentation). Were you able to find it? – kpozin Jun 23 '11 at 4:27
  • You're right it's not in the DDK anymore. I haven't found any further leads. – John K Jun 23 '11 at 17:08

ATI/AMD video card drivers have a built-in function, called VPU Recover, that automatically restarts them when they crash. It is enabled by default, but can be changed from the Catalyst Control Center.

I don't know whether nVidia drivers have something similar.

  • "Note that this option doesn't exist in Windows Vista, since Vista's new driver model means that a form of VPU Recover is permanently in effect for all graphics cards." -- tweakguides.com/ATICAT_8.html – John K Mar 2 '10 at 11:29
  • I'm searching for a solution to reboot the drivers so I don't have to restart the machine (either manually or by happenstance of a crash) in order for an external monitor to be recognized and used. – John K Mar 2 '10 at 11:36

I'm under the impression that computers should always be powered off when connecting/disconnecting monitors. Suppose that in the process of connecting the cable you make contact with a pin that's connected to sensitive 5v transistors along with some 12v line before connecting the ground pin?

  • 1
    On one hand that would suck. On the other I'd love a new laptop. Because it takes my Vista 13 minutes between computer start and when it's ready for me to use ... I'm willing to take that chance. – John K Mar 2 '10 at 13:40

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