Best Way To Fix Skyrim Keeps Crashing on Startup

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is notorious for crashing on any platform. We'll detail some of the most common causes.

Skyrim is a favorite game for many, but some players face a frustrating problem—Skyrim crashing on Startup when they try to launch it.

Players have shared their stories of the game crashing, and others tried to help by giving advice. Some warn about the dangers of downgrading, while others suggest reinstalling the game and following good modding practices.

In this article, we have explained the effective and best fixes to resolve Skyrim keeps crashing on startup issue on a Windows PC.

Why Skyrim Keeps Crashing on Startup

Below we have listed the main causes that trigger the startup crashing issues in Skyrim or in its special Edition (SE).

  1. Downgrading Issues: Users report crashes after attempting to downgrade Skyrim using a popular YouTube guide, causing instability in the game.
  2. Compatibility Concerns: Another highlighted concern is mod compatibility with different Skyrim versions, particularly the misconception that the Anniversary Edition (AE) is not well-supported.
  3. Unofficial Patch Dependency: Players stress the importance of the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch and how failing to use it might result in crashes, emphasizing the need for proper modding practices.
  4. Game Version Differences: Users advise against downgrading to unsupported or outdated versions, recommending sticking to the latest stable version (v1.6.640) for better stability and mod compatibility.
  5. SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender) Conflict: Some users experience crashes due to conflicts with SKSE, suggesting a need to reinstall SKSE after downgrading.
  6. Update Issues: Problems caused by game updates, emphasizing the need to protect the game from automatic updates to maintain stability.
  7. Lack of Research: Players are reminded to conduct thorough research before attempting modding procedures, underlining the importance of understanding the instructions to avoid potential issues.

Read Also: How To Fix Skyrim Stuck on Infinite Loading Screen Issue in 2023?

How To Fix Skyrim Keeps Crashing on Startup

1. Avoid Downgrading

Ensure you are running the latest stable version of Skyrim. Do not downgrade the game, as it may introduce compatibility issues with mods and stability problems.

2. Verify Game Files

Whether you’re playing Skyrim with or without mods, there’s always a risk of game files getting corrupted. If you’re using the Steam platform, you can take a simple step to address this issue.

  • Right-click on Skyrim, and navigate to Properties > Local Files.
  • Select “Verify Integrity of Game Files.”

Steam will then scan for potential file corruption and automatically repair any issues detected.

This ensures that your game files remain intact and current, minimizing the chances of crashes or errors during gameplay.

3. Reinstall SKSE (Skyrim Script Extender)

To resolve issues with Skyrim crashing on startup, consider reinstalling the Skyrim Script Extender (SKSE) by following these detailed steps:

  • Uninstalling the current SKSE version from your system. You can usually do this through your computer’s control panel or settings.
  • Visit the official SKSE website to download the version that corresponds to your Skyrim edition. Ensure compatibility with your specific Skyrim version (such as Special Edition or Anniversary Edition).
  • Once the SKSE archive is downloaded, extract its contents to a location of your choice. This typically involves using a file archiving tool like WinRAR or 7-Zip.
  • Find the directory where your Skyrim game is installed. This is usually in the “Steam/steamapps/common/Skyrim” folder.
  • Copy all extracted SKSE files (DLLs and EXEs) to the main Skyrim directory. Confirm overwriting any existing files if prompted.
  • Launch Skyrim using the SKSE Loader. This executable is included in the SKSE files you copied.
  • Load a save or start a new game to test whether the Skyrim crashing issue persists. Monitor for any error messages and ensure the game runs smoothly.

Read Also: How To Fix Skyrim Won’t Launch After Pressing Play On Windows 11 and 10 PC?

4. Clean Vanilla Reinstall Skyrim

To perform a clean vanilla reinstall of Skyrim and address startup crashes, follow these steps:

  • Open your Steam client and navigate to your Library.
  • Right-click on Skyrim and select “Uninstall.” Follow the on-screen prompts to remove the game from your system.
  • After uninstalling through Steam, ensure that all Skyrim-related files and folders are completely removed. Some files may persist after the uninstallation.
  • Navigate to the installation directory (commonly found at “Steam/steamapps/common/Skyrim“) and delete any remaining Skyrim files or folders.
  • If you previously used mods, check for any lingering mod-related files in the Skyrim directory. Remove them to ensure a clean slate.
  • Look for any remaining configuration files (INI files) related to Skyrim. Delete them if found.
  • Return to Steam and reinstall Skyrim by clicking on “Install” in your Library. Allow the installation process to complete.
  • Launch Skyrim in its vanilla state. This step is crucial for confirming the stability of the base game.
  • Avoid using any modding tools or script extenders during this initial launch.

5. Use the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch

  • Visit a reputable source, such as Nexus Mods, to download the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch (USSEP). Ensure that you select the version compatible with your game.
  • Extract the downloaded files to a location of your choice.
  • If you’re using a mod organizer like Mod Organizer 2, activate the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch in the mod list.
  • If you’re not using a mod organizer, copy the extracted files to your Skyrim/Data folder.
  • Launch your preferred mod manager and confirm that the Unofficial Skyrim Special Edition Patch is correctly loaded and placed in an appropriate position within your mod order.
  • Mod order is crucial for ensuring that the patch functions as intended and does not conflict with other mods.

6. Protect Game from Updates

This step is crucial because updates can sometimes introduce compatibility issues with mods, leading to crashes. So temporarily disconnect your computer from the internet to prevent Skyrim from receiving automatic updates.

Explore third-party tools designed to block game updates selectively. Tools like “SkyrimSE.exe Auto Blocker” or similar utilities can help control when updates are applied. Follow the instructions provided by the chosen tool to configure it according to your preferences.

7. Gradually Add Mod in Skyrim

Start with a few mods that are known to be compatible with your Skyrim version. Test the game after adding each mod to identify potential conflicts.

Use mod management tools like Mod Organizer 2 to easily enable or disable mods for testing.

8. Reshape the Mods Load Order

If you’re playing a modded version of Skyrim and prefer not to disable your mods, it’s essential to organize their load order systematically. The correct load order helps prevent sudden crashing issues in Skyrim.

Read Also: LOOT Mod Loader Download For Skyrim (Latest Version 2023)

Follow this recommended load order sequence:

  1. Skyrim.esm
  2. Update.esm
  3. Dawnguard.esm
  4. HearthFires.esm
  5. Dragonborn.esm

Ensuring that Skyrim.esm comes first, followed by the necessary updates and expansions, maintains the stability of the game.

9. Delete Autosave Files & Use Manual Save

The Skyrim’s autosave and quicksaves are highly unstable. Each time you autosave game programs the save files get corrupted. To fix Skyrim keeps crashing on startup you need to delete all the auto-saved files.

To fix the crashing issue you should always save the game manually. Here’s how to do that:

  • While running the game press the ESC button.
  • From the menu list, click on the Save button to save the progress
  • After that minimize or close the game and go to the game directory
  • Delete the Save folder.

Once done, you are good to play and Skyrim Keeps Crashing will not happen

10. Turn OFF ffdshow Audio Decoder

Users on the forum confirmed that Skyrim’s crashing on startup issue occurred because they had activated the ffdshow audio decoder. Once you disable it you can fix crashing problems.

  • From the Windows Start Menu type the ffdshow
  • Choose the ffdshow audio decoder to open it.
  • From the left side of the windows make sure that you are on the DirectShow control section
  • Tick the box Don’t use ffdshow in, and browse the skyrim.exe which is located in the installation folder.

Now check if the Skyrim crashing issue has been resolved or not.

11. Change the Sound Quality to 24-bit

There is a chance that sound quality is the main issue which is why Skyrim is crashing on Startup. Here’s how to fix it:

  • From the system tray right-click on the Volume icon and choose Sound.
  • Within the Sound settings head to the Playback tab
  • Select speakers and whatever device you are using
  • Right-click on the device and go to the Properties
  • Go to the Advanced tab, now from the drop-down choose 24bit 44100 Hz.

12. Skyrim’s Using The Wrong GPU

If you are playing Skyrim on a PC that has multiple GPUs within it. Then there are chances that Skyrim might choose the wrong GPU.

To fix this issue you can head towards the Graphics control panel and force the game to use your PC’s powerful GPU.

Then head over to Skyrim.ini and SkyrimPrefs.ini files and find your GPU. If it’s not there then type in your new GPU name.