Random screen flashing in Windows XP and Vista

Posted on 2007-03-20
Last Modified: 2012-06-27
Recently, like in the last month or so, a couple of my computers have started having a problem with random screen flashing:  suddenly, the screen just flashes as though it were refreshing or changing the wallpaper or ...  but, nothing has changed.  Sometimes the video gets "stuck" if I'm in a graphics app, and I have to minimize and then restore whatever application I'm using in order to get the graphics to straighten out.  For example, I'll be playing Spider Solitaire.  After the screen has flashed a few times, the cards will start acting strangely:  I just moved one, but it'll seem to still be where it was.  When I minimize and restore the app, then the cards are where they're supposed to be - until the screen has flashed a few more times.  And the flashing is pretty consistent - it's not like once a day or something - it's more like a few times per hour (though I haven't timed it exactly - hmm).

This is happening on two HP's and an eMachine (Gateway), all running Windows XP service pack 2.  I've got a Mactel running XP and another HP - neither of which have the problem.

There is anti-virus and anti-spyware software running on all the machines.  They all receive regular Windows updates.  I updated the video drivers on the eMachine and one of the HPs with no effect.

A couple of friends who have purchased Vista recently are complaining about the same thing - one of them even took their new PC back to the store and exchanged it, thinking something was wrong with the video.

Anybody have a clue as to what's going on here?
Question by:lisfolks
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Expert Comment

ID: 18761039
What video card are each of the machines using?

It's usually the video driver that's causing the problem. Happened on mine before until i updated to a stable driver. The newest video driver is not always the most stable one.  


Author Comment

ID: 18768391
They're using different video cards:  the eMachine has an NVIDIA GeForce4 MX;  one of the HPs has a Radeon Mobility 200M;  another of the HPs has an Intel Mobile 915GM/GMS,910GML Express Chipset. - none of these works properly.  I'm not sure about the other HP off the top of my head, but it works.

My Mactel has an ATI card, and it works fine (even in Windows XP via Boot Camp).

I updated the drivers on the eMachine and the HP Radeon before asking this question - no joy;  they still flash.

And, as I mentioned previously, I've got a friend who actually returned her Vista machine due to the same problem, but the replacement does the same thing.  It's weird...

Accepted Solution

Sylpheed777 earned 250 total points
ID: 18768632
Very weird indeed,

I had this problem before, i solved mine with a better video card driver. Better doesn't necessarily means newer, I had to reroll to an older stable version. Maybe you can try doing that also. Since you have both Nvidia and ATI cards, you might wanna find out which driver is most stable in XP.

Vista wise.. it's very unstable still. people are still reporting BSODs all over the place. Especially video card drivers, both ATI and NVIDIA.

The other possible reason is your monitor cable isn't screwed properly.  Just try unplugging the monitors and replugging in. Might work..

Since you have 1 desktop and 2 laptops that's all causing this problem.. are your laptops on battery mode when they have this problem? Try running just 1 PC, does it sitll cause this problem?


Author Comment

ID: 18878994
Sorry for the delay in answering - I got a bit sidetracked!
It's just weird that they all started having the problem at the same time.  It doesn't matter how many PCs are running at the same time - the desktop's on all the time, and the laptops are on sometimes and not others.  I was thinking that there must've been a Windows update that might have affected the video drivers.  Or, maybe a virus or spyware.  I've got a MacBook Pro running XP via Boot Camp, and it's not having any problem at all.  It uses ATI drivers.  But the eMachine desktop and the two HP laptops all have the problem.  If it were a monitor cable, then the laptops wouldn't be affected.  I really think it's a Windows update issue, but I can't prove it - especially because I do updates on the Mac, too, and it's not having the problem.

I'm going to go ahead and close the question, Sylpheed777, and give you all the points.  Your suggestion of re-installing the drivers is typically valid for a flashing screen, so if someone finds this thread at least they'll have something to check.  Thanks for taking the time to answer!

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