nvlddmkm.sys delenda est

I am in the grip of a techno nightmare, the stuff of man-made purgatory.

My main computer, the big one, which was giving me so many problems, which I had thought I had repaired, threw a nutty again yesterday in the midst of my writing a column. 

I got it going again with the radical choice of a complete system restore only to have it wig out once more with the same problem.

This morning I was up early and finally got the file off the box and moved to a USB drive so I could complete it on my laptop.

And so I am sitting here, preparing to slit my wrists right after I put down the sledge hammer.

I need help to resolved this problem with the video card driver, a problem lots of people seem to have with

nvlddmkm.sys delenda est.

I have googled and searched and even tried some of the solutions suggested.

However, there are so many putative "fixes" which seem not effectively to resolve the problem that it is hard to know what to do next.

Anyone who mentions "get a Mac" will be eternally banned from the blog.

I am considering options. 

First, I am guessing that replacing the card with a card that has nothing whatsoever to do with Nvidia might do the trick.  I would need something with a dual digital output.

Second, do any of you have any experience with this problem, understand what I am talking about, and know what to do?  I could use your experienced help.

Folks, I am not exactly a newbie… so let’s try to avoid suggestions about spyware, etc.

The OS is Vista Ultimate.  The card is an NVidia Geforce 8800.  The driver causing the problem is the hated nvlddmkm.sys.  This time, after the screen freaks out, I have gotten the message "Display Driver nvlddmkm stopped responding, has successfully recovered".  It would happen a few more times, quickly, and then either BSD with the hated driver indicated or simply reboot.

Right now it managed to boot up in safe mode with networking, which is how things stand at the moment.

If any of you truly understand what is going on and know what to do, I would be happy to give you a call if you have time.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Father, I run 7 Ultimate, and had this same issue, I believe. It seems to be an issue with the updated viji drivers not playing well with others.

    If you can boot into safe-mode, BY HAND (don’t rely on Sys Restore) roll back your video card driver, AT LEAST TWO editions. I rolled mine back to the driver that came out in March of this year. As well as that, schedule a disk check on your main HDD, and order it to fix all errors automatically. Since you’ve already done a system restore this should do it… At least it did it for mine.

    Bon chance mon Pere.

  2. Brandon: Thanks. I am also trying another thing. I am trying to get it to boot in normal mode long enough for me to turn on the single GPU multiple display performance mode.

  3. pseudomodo says:

    Finally the music has stopped!

    Where was it coming from?

  4. What happens when you do boot into normal mode? Have you tried Administratrix of all Boot-Errors mode?

  5. And.. The music hasn’t stopped for me… It seriously confused me for about 15 minutes, trying to figure out whence it came… Why is it playing?

  6. patrick_f says:

    Have you tried a different driver…like… non nvidia nvidia driver

    I use this on my nvidia card, from omega drivers


    Try that, it might be enough of a difference to get you going again.

    Quite honestly, I wouldnt keep battling the issue.

    Now there might also be a registry entry referencing a DLL that is problematic, you could search there, somewhere around hklm\microsoft\windows\current version would be a good start.

  7. Rob Cartusciello says:

    Not a computer guy, but I will pray for intercessions to St. Gabriel the Archangel, St. Isidore of Seville and Nuestra Senora de la Luz.

  8. nhaggin says:


    While I would normally advise upgrading to the absolute latest drivers, in this case, I agree with Brandon: try older drivers until you find one that works.

    And I would never tell you to get a Mac. I administer a high-performance cluster built out of Mac Xserve G5s, which cause me no end of grief. :)

  9. ChristopherM says:

    If you end up getting an non nvidia card ati has some decent video cards that will support your dual displays.

  10. Oleksander says:

    with all these problems I think skynet is personally working against you

  11. patrick_f says:

    that registry key is “hklm software microsoft windows current_version”

    sorry, the formatting got goofed

  12. Peggy R says:

    I hope that’s just a photo you found online!

    I can only offer prayers and empathy.

  13. I think it is the prelude to a Cylon attack.

  14. A. J. D. S. says:

    Father! I had exactly this problem earlier this year. I have a Dell Latitude D630 laptop and I kept receiving that message about nvlddmkm.sys. This was accompanied by a strange visual aberration (the screen would become vertical lines), as well as difficulty during boot up; sometimes the screen would be horizontally split upon start up. I launched the repair wizard a few times to no avail. I maintained functionality with safe-mode.

    The entire debacle culminated in a lengthy chat with Dell tech support and in the end, they sent over a tech guy and replaced the motherboard and installed a heat sink. No problems since then.

  15. Inkstain says:

    While not specific to this particular issue (and thus not as promising as Brandon’s recommendation), I found the following process has worked well for me in the past on apparent driver issues for video cards, usb and other devices.

    1)Make sure you have somewhere on your computer the Setup files for whatever driver you want to use

    2)While in safe mode (w/networking should be fine) go into device manager and delete/uninstall *any* display adapters it lists (it may have redundant ones).

    3) While in Device Manager, go to View –> Show Hidden Devices and look for any driver listed under “Non-Plug and Play Drivers” that is marked in yellow or red, if you can identify that as related to video uninstall it (you might consider uninstalling it anyway)

    This following step is sort of redundant with #2 & 3 but I’ve found many times that some things can be left over so…

    4) Open regedit as Administrator and go to HKLM\System\CurrentControlSet\Enum\Pci

    In following the process below, if you are unsure of which of the ones to delete, do *not* delete :)

    you will see a whole slew of VEN_blah_blah_blah entries, open up each in turn and highlight the child key under each (on the left side, so that it reveals the corresponding values on the right), refer to the “service” value in particular and look for anything affiliated with your video card, some of the other values here may point to the nature of the device as well so look carefully. For anything video related, highlight the parent VEN_blah key and select delete (It will autogenerate on the next reboot). It will likely not allow you to delete on the first attempt, where this is the case, right-click on the corresponding VEN_blah key and go to ‘Permissions’ and highlighting ‘Everyone’ in the upper window, in the lower window select Allow ‘Full Control’ and then OK. Then you should be able to delete the key and subentries.

    You might also take a peak at the entries under Root (parallel with the PCI key. Look for any Legacy entries (these are usually associated with the “Show Hidden Devices–> Non-plug & Play Drivers”

    Once you’ve checked all the entries, reboot and then re-apply the driver package.

    Very infrequently, I have had to go in after the fact when the issue continue and on the corresponding VEN entries that I had identified and deleted from regedit I allowed full control but left it intact the second time. Sometimes there is some state information it tries to maintain due to a poorly written driver on these keys that by default they would not have permission to but this latter step is very uncommon.

    Hope this helps.

  16. jmhj5 says:

    I thank God for your humor…you show us how to attack the bad guy and keep our prayerful wits..we all have this happen…I don’t touch the audiance you do..but you have become my teacher…
    Thank you..and God Bless

  17. shin says:

    Perhaps the prayers of Exorcism and Blessing are useful here. . .


  18. AJDS: Yes, many times the problems start with verticle lines and columns of horizontal lines.

  19. Discipulus Humilis says:

    I read this post a few hours ago before going to class. Upon my return, I just realized that “delenda est,” which I assumed was beyond my basic knowledge of Latin, is actually the passive paraphrastic, isn’t it? Something like it ought to be deleted?

    How exciting for me.

  20. That’s interesting. If it is a heat issue, switching to single GPU might help. Are there temperature sensors available on that card, and any software that’ll show you the current temp? It might be that there’s insufficient air circulation through your case. (I’ve had problems like that and just pointed a full-sized fan at my open case.)

    I have to bring up my Vista system (I just upgraded my other one to Windows 7 Ultimate, via the Developers Network, otherwise I’d look on that one), but there’s another place where some standard Microsoft hooks into the video drivers cause problems, and it was possible to turn off. Unfortunately I don’t remember where it is. Maybe someone else knows what I’m referring to and can fill in the blanks.

  21. moon1234 says:


    If you did a complete wipe and reinstall of the OS and drivers and you are still having this problem, then I would look more towards faulty hardware than bad drivers. Overheating GPUs shut themselves off when they reach a preset temperature to prevent them from being destroyed. The Nvidia drivers should come with an application that monitors the current GPU temperature. I would open that program as soon as you boot up and watch the temps as you use your computer. If the GPU is near or around 100C the GPU and onboard video are slowly being cooked. If you see temps this high it is a good bet that there is already hardware damage which is why you are having so many problems.

    At this point, after all that you have done, I would get a different card. If you have a bestbuy nearby you should be able to purchase a cheap card in the $25 range just to test this theory. If the computer is nice and stable then you have your answer. You can then buy a faster card with all of the options that you want.

  22. Matthew in Vancouver says:

    Hi all,

    This might not be relevant, but it might be worth looking into anyway. My brother has an nVidia 8800 GTS card. After doing some rendering, the computer either wouldn’t boot, or would restart/BSOD quickly after getting into Windows. There were some suspected driver issues, but I’m not sure it was the same as Father is experiencing. Anyway, we reinstalled the video drivers and there was no improvement. We returned the card to the manufacturer (Father, your card may have a limited lifetime warranty), they replaced it, but the problem was still there. Obviously, the video card wasn’t the problem. The motherboard was occasionally giving a beeping sound on boot up indicating either video card or motherboard failure.

    To cut off an already long story, we ended up buying a new power supply and it fixed the problem, because there appeared to be no rhyme or reason to the shutdowns. Father, do you have a spare power supply that you can try out?

  23. Sid says:

    I didn’t know that “nvlddmkm.sys” is the Geekspeak translation for “Carthago”!

    And, Father, with you sledge hammer do you plan to follow Scipio Aemilianus and leave not one stone on stone and sow the motherboard with salt?

  24. joan ellen says:

    Fr., I am so sorry that you are having this difficulty.

    Most of the words written above here are foreign to me. I put almost nothing on my hard drives, and instead use flash drives hoping to avoid these kinds of problems. Maybe these flash drives do not even make a difference.

    Some of us here had server problems for the last couple of weeks. I wondered about the satellite, or even electromagnetic frequencies infringing on computer technologies, because of increased natural or even increased man made electrical generation.

  25. Jack Hughes says:

    Fr I sympathise, I was upgrading my sound card drivers this evening and the whole system is screwed up……… reinstall time

  26. greg the beachcomber says:

    Wow, it’s one thing not to be able to comment on Father’s blog while I’m alive, but to be banned from commenting while I’m in purgatory (hopefully), when I really need something to distract me, would be too much to bear. So I will certainly NOT make the veroboten suggestion, and will make a real effort to stop thinking it.

  27. wmeyer says:

    Father, you did not mention, and I have not seen other suggest it, but if you do get Vista settled down again, please be sure to install SP1. It settles many ills in the OS.

  28. Patrick J. says:

    Father Z:

    Two things are always suspect in any system: heat and power. Either of these can result in any number of strange occurrences. Bigger power supply never hurts. New video card is the easiest thing to do, ATI swaps for your Nvidia. Simple. How is your ambient heat? Good air flow paramount. I mention these because they can often be at the root of some of these type problems.

  29. Sursum Corda says:

    Hardware or heat problems? I concur.

    Just last week, my wife was having intermitant problems with her computer. Alas, she had an unanticipated, but spectacular crash of her computer system. Finally roused from my lethurgy, I asked her to open her computer case. The accumulated dust and kitty fur would have choken a heathen or regular Raiders fan!

    A couple of minutes of work with a Dust-vac cured this problem.

    Air flow is important with computers. It is even more inportant when it is mission critical.

    Sursum Corda

  30. staggering but still standing says:

    Good gosh, Fr. Z! That picture looks a lot like what happens to me all the time!

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    I’ve had an absolutely horrible week, Fr Z. And then I read this:

    “Anyone who mentions “get a Mac” will be eternally banned from the blog.”

    Thank you for the big laugh. You’re great.

  32. catholicmidwest says:

    Error messages I get resemble English just barely enough to keep hope alive, but not enough to use for anything. It’s a dirty trick I tell you.

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