FIX: ”hl2.exe has stopped working” error in Windows 10

Aleksandar Ognjanovic
by Aleksandar Ognjanovic
Troubleshooting Expert
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Playing legacy games on Windows 10 proved to be a problem for some avid fans of classic first-person shooters developed by Valve. Namely, older titles are unified within the one Source engine and, even though the error we’re addressing today points towards Half-Life 2, it can occur with other similar shooters. The sudden crash followed by the ”hl2.exe has stopped working” message seems to bother a substantial player base.

There are different aspects and causes that lead to this exact error, so we provided resources that should get you out of the slump. In case you’re experiencing this error in Windows 10, the solutions below will come in handy.


How to address the ”hl2.exe has stopped working” error in Windows 10

  1. Run the game as an administrator and in a compatibility mode
  2. Update Graphics drivers
  3. Disable a third-party antivirus
  4. Check the DirectX version
  5. Disable the Steam service
  6. Reinstall the game

1: Run the game as an administrator and in a compatibility mode

As we already stated, even though the ”hl2.exe” points towards Half-Life 2, all other Valve-produced games with slight Source engine variations can be affected by this error. First thought goes to incompatibility with Windows 10. Some of those games, like Counter-Strike 1.6 or Half-Life 2 are quite old. That’s the main cause for this error in the first place.

The primary solution could be to force the game to run in the compatibility mode. Also, in order to avoid system limitations imposed by Windows 10, you should run it as an administrator. Here’s how to do so in a few simple steps:

  1. Navigate to the game’s installation folder. Mostly found in C:\Programs\Steam.
  2. Locate the exe file, right-click on it and open Properties.
  3. Select the Compatibility tab.
  4. Check the ”Run this program in compatibility mode for” box and select another iteration of Windows from the drop-down list. The one that’s noted in the game’s system requirements is the preferred one.
  5. Furthermore, check the ”Run this program as an administrator” box.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
  6. Confirm changes and try starting the game.

If the crashes with the distinctive error are persistent, check the other solutions.

2: Update Graphics drivers

When it comes to Graphics card drivers and Windows 10, there’s no simple solution when the problem emerges. Windows 10 tends to install generic drivers through Windows Update. Those drivers might suffice for certain games, but that’s far from a concept you can rely on. Furthermore, even if you get the latest drivers manually from the official site, taking into consideration the game’s release date, it still might not work.

So, the only way to resolve this is to block the drivers-updating feature in Windows Update and experiment with various older and newer drivers versions until you find the one that fits.

If you’re not sure how to do it in Windows 10, follow the steps we provided below:

    1. In the Windows Search bar, type System settings and open ”View advanced system settings” from the list of results.
    2. Select the Hardware tab.
    3. Open Device Installation settings.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
    4. Toggle ”No (your device might not work as expected)”.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
    5. Now, navigate to one of these sites (depending on what’s your GPU manufacturer) and download drivers:
    6. Now, right-click on Start and open Device Manager.
    7. Expand Display adapters.
    8. Right-click on your GPU and uninstall it.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
    9. Use IObit Uninstaller or Ashampoo Uninstaller to clear all the remaining driver inputs.
    10. Install the proper drivers you’ve downloaded from the OEM’s site.
    11. Restart your PC and start the game.

In the same manner, you can download and install older drivers and not the latest ones. As we already said, experimenting might get things sorted out. It can be time-consuming but also quite rewarding if you match the driver version with the game. On the other hand, you can use Tweakbit’s Driver Updater tool. This tool is approved by Microsoft and Norton Antivirus. After several tests, our team concluded that this is the best automatized solution. Below you can find a quick guide how to do it.

  1. Download and install TweakBit Driver Updater
  2. driver updater starting windowOnce installed, the program will start scanning your PC for outdated drivers automatically. Driver Updater will check your installed driver versions against its cloud database of the latest versions and recommend proper updates. All you need to do is wait for the scan to complete.
  3. driver updater diagnozingUpon scan completion, you get a report on all problem drivers found on your PC. Review the list and see if you want to update each driver individually or all at once. To update one driver at a time, click the ‘Update driver’ link next to the driver name. Or simply click the ‘Update all’ button at the bottom to automatically install all recommended updates.
    driver updater scan finished
    Note: Some drivers need to be installed in multiple steps so you will have to hit the ‘Update’ button several times until all of its components are installed.

3: Disable a third-party antivirus

Some third-party antivirus solutions weren’t even concepts when the Half-Life 2 or Counter-Strike 1.6 hit the market. So, some of them might detect these gold legacy titles as something malicious and prevent them from running. The main suspect, if it’s to be believed to reports, is AVG antivirus solution. Nonetheless, many others can and will occasionally block Valve games, either on startup or after some time.

Therefore, we advise you to at least temporarily disable a third-party antivirus and start the game again. If you’re still unable to run it and the launcher crashes followed by the ”hl2.exe has stopped working” error prompt, consider uninstalling as a viable option.

Finally, if you can’t make your current antivirus and the game work together, we advise you to try Bitdefender. It’s a top-notch security solution, with the remarkable virus base and various protective features. Here’s our review, so make sure to take a look.


4: Check the DirectX version

Older games require older DirectX versions to run. If you’re running Windows 10, all the chances imply that you’re using either DirectX 11 or 12. That, of course, aren’t suiting the game older than 10 or even 15 years. Because of that, make sure to install older DirectX versions, mostly DirectX 9 that was the most-present solution for ages.

Nonetheless, even if you have DirectX 11 or 12, you can still install and use older versions. You can find the DirectX 9 on this link. Once you install it, start the game and look for changes. Hopefully, it won’t crash anymore.

5: Disable the Steam service and other background programs

The Steam client for Windows is a usual way to launch the game, especially the ones produced by Valve which founded Steam. However, this nifty launcher/application reportedly had issues with legacy titles, mainly referring to likes of Half-Life 2, Team Fortress, or Counter-Strike. Therefore, disabling the process before starting the game or running the game without the Steam client are possible solutions for the issue at hand. All of those are affected by the ”hl2.exe has stopped working” error.

Furthermore, there are a lot of other background programs that can affect the game in the same manner. So, by limiting the background activity, you can resolve the issue.

It’s worth a shot, so make sure to follow the instructions below to overcome possible issues inflicted by the client itself or other programs:

  1. Right-click on the taskbar and open Task Manager.
  2. Click on the Startup tab.
  3. Disable all startup programs in the list and restart your PC.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
  4. Start the game from the installation folder and look for improvements.

6: Reinstall the game

At the end, if the problem proves more resilient than we initially expected, you can reinstall the game or use the game client (Steam) to validate the integrity of the game files. However, instead of a classical reinstallation, we advise you to clean all of the remaining files before you install the game again. You can use IObit Uninstaller Pro 7, which we recommend as the go-to tool for clear uninstalls. You can check it out, here.

But, before we move to reinstallation, try running the tool within Steam in order to validate the integrity of the game files. They can get corrupted or incomplete over time due to virus infection (or antivirus false detections) and misuse. Here’s how to repair the game integrity with the Steam client:

  1. Open the Steam desktop client.
  2. Open Library.
  3. Right-click on the affected game and open Properties.
  4. Open Local Files.
  5. Click on the ”Verify integrity of game files…” button.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working

Finally, if even this doesn’t help, follow these steps to perform a clean reinstallation:

  1. Open Steam.
  2. Under Library, right-click on the affected game and Uninstall it.hl2-exe-has-stopped-working
  3. Navigate to the installation folder and delete all the remaining files.
  4. Use IObit Uninstaller or Ashampoo Uninstaller to clear the associated registry entries.
  5. Get back to Steam and install the game from the Library.

With that, we can conclude this article. We hope that these workarounds helped you resolve the  ”hl2.exe has stopped working” and run legacy SourceEngine-related games without crashes again. Don’t forget to share your experience with the error or ask subject-related questions in the comments section below.


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