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Out of nowhere, my Toshiba Tecra R950 laptop has recently started wildly flickering and flashing vertical lines at regular intervals.

Strangely though, the flickering happens in some situations and not in others. For example, when I hit CTRL+ALT+DELETE the blue menu screen comes on and the flickering stops. Also when I expand the task manager to full screen, there is no flickering. The flickering also tends to happen much more while on certain web pages and application than on others. For example, when Gmail is open in the browser, it flickers a lot. But when on Google.com, it doesn't. For this reason, I am quite confident that this is not a hardware issue.

Does anyone have any ideas what could be causing this and how to fix it? Please see a video demonstration here

Picture Flicker - Flashing Picture Toshiba Screen Laptop

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    To confirm your hypothesis, please create a LiveUSB and test, not with your internally installed apps, OS, and drivers, but with the OS, drivers, and apps on that flash drive. Instructions: tutorials.ubuntu.com/tutorial/… – K7AAY Sep 27 '18 at 21:27
  • I don't think that applies if I am using Windows right? In a few days I will be able to test with an external screen to verify that it is not a hardware issue – CodyBugstein Sep 27 '18 at 21:36
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    If you use F2 or F12 (whichever) to boot from the LiveUSB to use a different OS, and if flickers; instant diagnosis that it's hardware; no flicker, 100% certainty it's in Windows somewhere. And, if the problem's caused by hardware, using an external monitor only rules out the screen, not the display adapter or anything causing it to misbehave. – K7AAY Sep 27 '18 at 21:40
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After spending a few hours uninstalling things, stopping services, rolling back to restore points etc... I found the culprit (partially)

The cause of the wild flickering was Night Light mode. I had enabled it around the time that the flickering started. This doesn't completely solve the issue and there must be another perpetrator since there is still an occasional flicker. But turning off Night Light mode alleviated the bulk of this issue!

To turn it off, type "Night Light" in the Start Menu, and then click "Turn off now" in the window.

Night Light Mode

I am still looking for the other culprit(s) and/or an explanation of why this happened

  • Interesting... thanks for sharing it. I wonder what will happen to the bounty now I don't think you can award it to yourself?! – Albin Oct 14 '18 at 18:26
  • @Albin I edited my answer. It hasn't completely solved the issue. Will award bounty to answer that more completely solves it and/or explains it – CodyBugstein Oct 14 '18 at 18:43
  • ok, did you try to attach an external monitor or boot a fresh windows from USB yet in order locate the error source? – Albin Oct 14 '18 at 19:48
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Unfortunately, that is almost definitely a hardware issue.

I suppose technically speaking someone could write a program that would display something like that, but getting it to run in front of the Windows logon screen, as shown in your picture & video would be difficult, and would only be attempted by malware, which would have to have write access to protected Windows files, and honestly, why would someone do this, if they're writing malware that needs to get access to protected Windows files, there is so much more that they could easily do. In my experience, that pattern is always a hardware issue.

If you really, really don't want to believe that your monitor is going bad, do as suggested in the comments: Download a Linux LiveCD, burn it to a CD, and boot your computer from that disc. If the issue still occurs, it's 100% definitely a hardware issue, as you're no longer using the same software at all.

Note: Replacing an LCD in a Laptop isn't all that difficult. If you know what make & model your laptop is you should search online for either an "LCD replacement" guide or a "teardown" of it, which will show you how to take it apart, and then you just reverse the process once you've swapped the new screen in, most laptops these days have at least a written guide posted if not a video on YouTube.

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    Ok thank you. It seems you're right. As the problem got worse it became clear it's a hardware issue. The flickering started to happen even on the BIOS screen – CodyBugstein Oct 21 '18 at 4:06

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