Flashing screens when using DisplayLink 7.9 M4 driver

As of an update last week, some users of DisplayLink-based USB adapters and docks on Windows are reporting repeated flashing or flickering of displays when USB-attached displays are plugged in. Rebooting does not help.

Background and Cause

The problem is triggered on a small percentage of systems that have an existing Windows display configuration (registry) issue. This issue triggers the new DisplayLink 7.9 M4 driver to assert (stop and restart). The 7.9 M4 driver was recently released as a Critical Windows Update, which means it it pushed to all systems with DisplayLink drivers. While Plugable currently recommends the 7.9 M3 version of the driver (which is not affected by the bug), on some systems the update will apply and Windows will not allow you to revert to the earlier version. This is especially true for Windows 10 systems as Microsoft does not allow you to rollback the driver version or block the update.

We are working both with DisplayLink and Microsoft to address the bug and if possible change the behavior of Windows Update to not force the installation of 7.9 M4, but in the meantime we have a workaround for the behavior.

Workaround

Deleting the Windows display configuration data at:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Configuration
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Connectivity

And then allowing it to rebuild the adapter / display database has successfully resolved the issue.

Workaround – Detailed Steps

1. Prior to proceeding, please create a new System Restore Point as a precaution
2. Disconnect the docking station from your system and remove the power cable so it turns off completely, or if using a USB adapter just disconnect it
3. Right-click on the Windows Start button and select ‘Run’ from the menu that appears. In the ‘Open’ section type ‘regedit’ without the quotes and click OK. If prompted by User Account Control if you wish to allow this action click ‘Yes’
4. From within the Registry Editor, navigate to this registry key folder -> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Configuration and right-click on the ‘Configuration’ folder and select ‘Delete’. When prompted click Yes for sure.

001 Delete Reg Key

5. Still from within the Registry Editor, navigate to this registry key folder -> HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\System\CurrentControlSet\Control\GraphicsDrivers\Connectivity and right-click on the ‘Connectivity’ folder and select ‘Delete’. When prompted click Yes for sure.

002 Delete Reg Key

6. Close the registry editor by clicking the ‘X’ in the upper right-hand corner
7. Reboot the system
8. Reconnect the power cable to the dock, and then reconnect the dock to your system with the USB cable. If using a USB adapter, just reconnect it.
9. Your displays should be recognized and should not be flashing, but you may have to reset your monitor configuration using the Display Setting application (right-click empty space on desktop and select ‘Display Settings’) as the arrangement may have changed from what it was originally.

Need help?

As we have developments for this issue we will update this post accordingly, and thank all of our customers for their patience. If you have any questions about this issue or think you may have been affected please reach out to us directly at support@plugable.com and we will be happy to help (please do not use the comments below to ask for one on one support)

9 comments on “Flashing screens when using DisplayLink 7.9 M4 driver”

  1. Tim Reply

    I have a problem and I don’t know if it’s the drivers or docking station.
    I have one Dell XPS 13 and two Lenovo monitors, DP and VGA output. One of the monitors works fine DP to DP but the other one it’s not detected DP to hdmi. I’ve tried different scenarios, drivers, etc. . Nothing worked. All this on Windows 10 64 bits.

    Any ideas?

    • Bernie Thompson Bernie Thompson Reply

      Hi Tim – This sounds like something different than the post above. Can you say what brand and model of docking station? Thank you!

  2. Kyle Tan Reply

    *Thank you!*
    Worth noting that I also had an issue with Ethernet, and resetting the configuration data fixed everything (either that, or it was a happy coincidence).

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      Glad we could help! I wouldn’t expect the registry change to have affected the Ethernet connection, but glad everything is working properly now.

  3. Jerry Reply

    Does the above apply to version 7.5?? Screen was blanking occasionally, but unplugging the power cord fixed it. Now it’s blanking a lot and unplugging doesn’t help.

    • Bob Boerner Bob Boerner Reply

      If you are in fact using a 7.5 version of the DisplayLink driver, that is a much older release than we recommend and to our knowledge is not affected by the bug present in 7.9 M4 that I describe in the post. I would recommend installing the latest version for your operating system from our download page here –> http://plugable.com/drivers/displaylink to see if that changes the behavior.

      If you are still experiencing issues after upgrading the driver, please reach out to us directly at support@plugable.com

  4. Loutjie Reply

    I have a Dell XPS13 with Dell external monitor. I have the flashing screen problem with two Dell USB docks. Both of them work fine (extending the desktop to the second Dell monitor) if plugged into a USB 2 port on my old Desktop with GigaByte motherboard. Both computers shows the same driver installed (Displaylink 8.0.478.0 dated 7/4/2016). Both machines are on Win 10 Pro Anniversary update. The XPS 13 was working just fine until the anniversary update that was installed yesterday. I am now stuck with a huge problem because in my job I cannot really function without the extended desktop. Please help!!

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