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Preventing Your Games From Crashing

Sunday, January 18th, 2009 by | Filed Under: System Tune-Up Help
 
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Preventing Your Games From Crashing

It’s a fairly common scenario: you’ve been looking forward to the release of a new game for months. You run to the store to buy it as soon as it’s released, you bring it home and you’re anxious to play it, but for some reason or another, you’re simply unable to play the game. That’s right, it crashes. Time and time again. Even more, in some cases, the game doesn’t even install or if it does install, it doesn’t start up. So, what’s the deal? Well, let’s look at some possible reasons for game crashes and how you can prevent it from happening again!

Basic Problems

Actually, the game not starting at all is not that bad, because in that case, you can almost certainly say there’s a mismatch between the game’s minimum requirements and your computer’s specifications.

In fact, there are many things that could go wrong. You may have the wrong version of the game (you have a PC, but you bought the Mac version), you may have a CD ROM drive and the game version you bought is a DVD, you have a 32-bit operating system, but you purchased the 64-bit version, you don’t have the proper graphics card and so on and so forth.

In each of those cases, the problem is easily avoided by making sure you’re aware of your computer’s specifications beforehand. It’s a good idea to write them out on a sheet of paper and take it along with you to the store. That way, you can match up everything on the game’s packaging as well.

Resource Usage and Memory Problems

Even if you’ve met the requirements on the box, always remember that those are the bare minimum requirements. Generally, your computer ought to be significantly better for you to experience decent performance.

The reason for that is since you’ve been using your computer for awhile, there are a number of applications you have installed over time. These days, many of those applications tend to run in the background at all times. While in the background, they inevitably consume computer resources (especially memory) and therefore, reduce the resources that will be available for the game. One way to get around that is to do a performance check and clean up your startup programs. By doing that, you’ll free up several resources and decrease your chance of experiencing problems.

In many cases, it may be as simple as the game not finding enough hard disk space. On one hand, that may be due to the fact that there’s very little hard disk space available (as a rule of thumb, you should have at least three times the size of your RAM available on your hard disk at all times). On the other hand, there may be a huge amount of hard disk space available, but it could be fragmented (in that case, the best thing to do is defragment your hard drive and try running the game again). Of course, it never hurts to purchase more hard disk space too!

Video Memory and Other Graphics Issues

In some cases, crashes are caused not by main memory or hard disk limitations, but by limited video memory. Even though games coming out nowadays will mention video memory requirements, there are probably some that still don’t. You’ll just want to make sure you look into that when purchasing a new game.

That’s a critical aspect of most contemporary game performances, which rely heavily on high end graphics. Make sure your computer either has a dedicated video memory (as part of an AGP or graphics accelerator card) or has a portion of the main memory that’s reserved for video memory. If it’s not possible to have as much video memory as required (and purchasing more is out of the question), it makes sense to try to play the game at a lower resolution so that it will consume fewer resources. Lowering the game’s resolution can also solve the problem of crashing in cases where the crash is actually being caused due to the display’s maximum resolution being less than the game’s default.

In some cases, you may need to reduce your screen resolution to the game’s resolution to make it work. Many common graphics issues are also caused by having the wrong kind of graphics card or having no AGP card at all. It’s a good idea to invest in an AGP or 3D graphics accelerator card, because most games are likely to require it for those high end graphics.

Other Problems

The video freezing up, the screen blanking out or other graphics crashes are in fact the most common types of game crashes. Other reasons for graphics problems are not having the right drivers installed (update your drivers regularly), issues with your installed version of DirectX (update after researching) and not having enough processing power.

Other problems that may arise are having an incompatible sound card, having faulty hardware and connection problems for games that depend on the Internet or are played online. Software bugs can cause a crash as well, but those will be somewhat random and not repeatable. They can also be checked easily by testing them on other computers or reading up on forums to see if others are experiencing similar problems. Chances are, software bugs are few and when they arise, they are fixed swiftly through a patch or update from the manufacturer.

On higher end CPUs, overheating can also be a problem. When the processor overheats, it causes the system to shut down or worse, misbehave. Overheating can be caused by something as simple as a non-functioning processor fan. In some cases, overheating is caused because the processor is overloaded.

It’s also always a good idea to frequently update your computer’s operating system. Even more, do not turn off the automatic updating feature on a Windows PC, but if you must, check for updates at least once a week. Keeping an antivirus suite up to date can block out problems caused by viruses and other malware as well.

Hopefully this has helped you solve some of your gaming issues and you can now go back to having fun!

~ Stephen Davies

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