Often when I leave my computer for a while (more than about 3 or 4 minutes, at a guess) the graphics driver will crash when I come back to it. The screen goes black for several seconds then comes back with a little popup in the bottom right saying "Display driver has stopped responding and has recovered". Sometimes it also freezes on the black screen and I have to reset the power.

I've tried reinstalling the drivers, rolling them back several versions (and I've had this problem for months, so it's not one specific version), replacing the card and modifying the "Timeout detection and recovery" registry value as detailed here.

Searching reveals that several other people have this problem or variants of it, and some have suggested that Windows 7 doesn't restore power to the graphics card properly when it resumes from idling. What do you think? Is there a solution?

Some more details:

  • My GPU is an Nvidia GTX 560 Ti, but I was using a GTX 275 before and had the same problem.
  • It doesn't make a difference if the computer or monitor is asleep or the screensaver is running (It often crashes when I move the mouse after watching a 3+ minute Youtube video, or if I leave a game paused for too long).
  • The applications on my startup list (and therefore usually running when I leave the computer) are:

    • Microsoft security client
    • BOINC Client (Distributed computing program that performs heavy calculations when the screensaver is on)
    • Skype
    • Dropbox
    • Steam
  • Does this happen when you boot into Safe mode?
    – harrymc
    May 21, 2012 at 11:34
  • @harrymc Tried it in safe mode. I left it for about an hour and a half, periodically going back to wiggle the mouse, and it didn't crash.
    – Tharwen
    May 21, 2012 at 20:55
  • @Tharwen Out of curiosity, can you try dialing down as well as turning off the hardware acceleration in Windows and see if that makes a difference? Control Panel -> Personalization -> Display Settings -> Advanced -> Hardware Acceleration slider.
    – emgee
    May 22, 2012 at 0:17

4 Answers 4


Since you say that this problem doesn't happen when you boot into Safe mode, then this problem is due to either :

  1. Some installed product on your computer, or
  2. The display driver.

To verify which one is the right explanation, you can Autoruns for Windows to massively turn off startup programs and reboot, and see if the problem disappears. Autoruns allows you to easily restore these entries.

If this is caused by some startup program, you can find this (painfully slow) by turning these programs off and on in groups and rebooting.

For the display driver, first go to the NVIDIA Driver Downloads page and use the "Graphics Drivers" button to let it automatically find your right display driver.

If the found display driver is the one that you already use, then you can still try older versions of the driver, but I am not very optimistic about this. You can also contact Nvidia Support in order to ask for help.

If not a video driver problem, I see two options :

  1. A hardware problem with your video card,
  2. A problem with your Windows setup.

Since this happened with two different video cards, the first probably doesn't apply.

For the second, a clean installation of Windows is required. If you go this way, reinstall the products in groups and reboot to verify, in case one of the installations causes this mess.

I don't see an easy solution to your problem - you will have to do lots of checking.

  • Well, now I'm in the awkward position of having a bounty to assign but being unable to check if this answer actually helps or not (because I suddenly find myself separated from the offending computer). Since you're probably right and I just need to do a load of boring, routine computer-checking, I'll give you the bounty in a few days anyway.
    – Tharwen
    May 22, 2012 at 19:08
  • As for the driver, I've already got the latest one, I've tried rolling back several years, and I've had this problem with every version I've used since I got the computer nearly 2 years ago.
    – Tharwen
    May 22, 2012 at 19:09
  • If the problem persists in a clean install of Windows, then you would have very good grounds for contacting Nvidia Support, who might furnish you with the tools to analyze it. This is a high-end GPU, after all. I hope this isn't a motherboard problem.
    – harrymc
    May 22, 2012 at 19:33
  • So do I. I sort of hope there's just a loose connection somewhere in the computer... I'll do some proper rigorous checking in about 2 weeks time.
    – Tharwen
    May 22, 2012 at 19:38
  • Since you have changed the video card and the problem persisted, I don't believe that this is a question of bad contact or of dirt. But strange things do happen.
    – harrymc
    May 23, 2012 at 6:40

My computer has been out of action for a month or so (PSU exploded, eBuyer sent me a broken one twice), but I found the problem shortly after getting it up and running again the other day.

The crashes were caused by BOINC, which I had set to run when the computer was idle. I turned it off and now it's not happening any more.


I had similar issue with 275.xx version of NVIDIA drivers.

Try updating your drivers to latest version from NVIDIA's website. When you install, run setup for NVIDIA Driver and perform a clean install.

You can also try restoring default settings from the NVIDIA control panel.

  • I've had this problem since I got the PC, back at version 260.xx-ish (And I'm running 295 now)
    – Tharwen
    Apr 24, 2012 at 15:14

For me this problem was caused by Bitmining malware. GPU load went up to 100% after computer was idle for a few minutes and when i moved the mouse the screen flashed and gave me the “Display driver stopped responding and has recovered” message. Check your taskmanager/processes and if you see a random .exe file popping up when your computer is idle. for me it was bcg.exe

I solved this problem by downloading Combofix removal tool and renaming it to something random and then running it.

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