Windows 10/Server 2016 Graphics Troubleshooting

Published Feb 03 2021 09:22 AM 3,289 Views

My name is Susan, and I am a Support Escalation Engineer on the Windows Performance Team at Microsoft.  A special thanks to my colleague, Dan, for his input.

This blog will address how to troubleshoot graphics issues in Windows 10 and includes identifying and data collection.


  • You have a Windows 10, Server 2016 or later showing graphics corruption such as black bars*, trails*, artifacts* when moving windows, or distortion. (*Defined at end of this post.)


When you experience graphics corruption, always start by isolating it to a specification application, OS, and identify steps to reproduce the issue.

  1. First, confirm if the issue is specific to an application. If it’s only a custom in house application, or a 3rd party application, please engage the vendor of the application.
  2. Take a screenshot of the distortion, or a video demo’ing the distortion (use your cell phone if necessary).
  3. In this example, let’s assume Word is the only application impacted:
    1. Test starting the application in Safe mode (if applicable)
      • Start > Run > Winword /safe


      • Hold down the CTRL key while starting the application until the following prompt appears:
    1. If the issue does NOT reproduce, begin investigating Add-ins that may be impacting the application:
    2. Start the application normally, and Enable Hardware Acceleration
      • Microsoft Office 2019/16/13 is a great software for Windows 10/8 if application specific (e.g. Office) test Enabling the Disable Graphics Acceleration
      • Click File file.png
      • Click Options
      • Click Advanced
      • Scroll down to the Display Section and Enable Disable Hardware graphics acceleration (screenshot shows it is currently disabled)disable.png

If the issue is more systemic:

  1. Update the Graphics Card driver/GPU to the latest drivers and reboot
    1. Use Device Manager and click on Display Adaptersdisplay.png
    2. Select the adapter, right-click and select Update driver
    3. updatedriver.png
  2. Test using a lower video resolution on the OS or the Base video
    1. Start > Search > MSConfigbase.png
  3. Boot into Windows Safe Mode with network and test
    1. Start > Search > MSConfignetwork.png
  4. In many versions of Windows 10, WPR is built in. Use either following the GUI or command line below 
    wpr -start gpu -start video -start audio
      • Reproduce the issue e.g. run a workload such as video playback or a real time communications scenario, or dragging an application across the screen.
      • Run the following command:
      wpr -stop Media.etl
  5. Run DxDiag
    1. Start > Search > DxDiag
    2. Check the Video drivers and confirm they are up to date.  If an update was just applied, you may wish to rollback and test.
    3. Lastly, Save All


  6. Last resort: gather a complete memory dump of the Operating System while the distortion is present.


*Glossary and Guide: graphics issues

  • Black Bars:  desktop may appear to have black lines either vertical or horizontal.
  • Trails and Artifacts: On moving a tiled window or application, it may leave a trail of what appears to be orphaned. 


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‎Feb 03 2021 09:21 AM
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