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Ultimate Skyrim Nexus Mod Management Guide

mod skyrim crashes stability performance troubleshooting crash to desktop install load order nexus

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Now, many of us have probably run into this problem. You download a mod, or multiple mods and all of a sudden, you CTD, bug or run into performance issues. Then you search for a solution and are forced to look through every mod you just downloaded!


Well, worry no further! This guide will help you avoid ctds or other performance issues that plague many modders alike.


First off, you need the most recent version of skyrim. Go on steam and download it. 


Terms you should know:

Vanilla Skyrim: Original, unmodded
Esm: refers to any file with a .esm extension. It is an acronym for Elder Scrolls Master.
Esp: refers to any file with a .esp extenstion. It is an acronym for Elder Scrolls Plugin.
DLC: DownLoadable Content, extra stuff that bethesda came out with!
Clean Save: Does not exist. Scripts may stay in game even after a clean save.
Cloaking scripts, "active" mods: Constantly updating mods, may strain weaker PCs
Dirty edit: a bad edit in a mod/plugin that changes Skyrim.esm
ENB: Refers to powerful post processing modification, usually a graphics mod.
Ini edits: Changes to skyrim settings. Found in:
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrim.ini
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrimprefs.ini
Papyrus Logs: Error/Warning logs. Found in:
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Logs/Script
You simply must have these downloads. INCREDIBLY USEFUL
WinRaR or Alternative: For extracting files.
SKSE: Script Extender for many popular plugins.
Nexus Mod Manager: Simple Mod Manager for downloading plugins
BOSS: Load order organizer
Wyre Bash: Makes mods more compatible
SkyUI: Improves the user interface insanely
Unofficial Skyrim Patch: Fixes MANY MANY BUGS. A must-must have.
DLC Patches: Fixes bugs for DLCs
Dawnguard DLC:
Hearthfire DLC:
Dragonborn DLC:
High Resolution DLC:
Save Game Cleaner: Helps clean save games!!!
Skryim Configurator: Configures Skyrim without skyrim launcher, much more detailed.
Hialgoboost: Enhances graphics card performance. Useful from low-end computers to high-end computers.
Project Optimization: Improves GPU and cpu load.
Generate FNIS for Users: Add animations and animation bugs fixes.
SUM: A unified skyproc patcher, for downloading patches for mods such as Skyrim Redone and Dual Sheath Redux.
Optimizer Textures: Textures check, fixes, compresses and improves performance.
TES5Edit: Cleans dirty edits. However, use at your own risk.
Walkthroughs/Installation help:
Project Stability: Detailed walkthrough for stability(not a mod)
ENB: Help for ENB Installations(sorry, not a download)
Papyrus Debugging:
Error finding, go to and add
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrim.ini
To view the errors, go to 
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Logs/Script
View the error code using wordpad, NOT notepad or it looks like a huge mess.
Speed up scripts/mods:
By adding more memory this speeds up scripts, go to and add
Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrim.ini



Major Causes of Crashes:

This is a checklist for major causes of crashes.

These cause 90% of the crashes modders get:


Missing Master/esm or missing plugin/esp

*A mod refers to a plugin or masters that DOES NOT EXIST. check using Wrye Bash, uninstall with nmm or/and manually remove *in data folder* mods that rely on other nonexistent mods. Causes crashes instantly on start*


Incompatible Mods

*Use BOSS for load order! Also try not to use mods that do the same thing. Wrye bash fixes most issues. Check the Wrye Bash section or their download page for more details*


Outdated-Faulty Mods

*check the tips and tricks section for avoiding these mods!*


This causes 10% of the crashes modders get:


Bad save files

*Almost unfixable, best option is to avoid bad mods, use Skyrim Save Cleaner and maybe it'll work*


Bad/outdated .ini tweaks

*go to

Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrim.ini

Documents/My Games/Skyrim/Skyrimprefs.ini

and delete the .ini (s) to refresh the ini tweaks. Warning: forces you to completely redo Skyrim Configurator or Skyrim Launcher settings*


Tips and Tricks When Downloading:

1a. Take note of the description. Read it carefully for compatibility, bug issues and installion!

1b. Usually, all you have to do is go to files and click "Download with Manager"

1c. In Files, optional files may contain compatibility patches. Check them out!

1d. Also pay attention to when a mod was last updated. As a rule of thumb 2012 and earlier may cause crashes.


2. Right in "description" currently in a BLUE background, check "Last updated". Most older mods(2012 and eariler) ARE BUGGY and will not work well. 


3. READ THE COMMENTS! Very useful information can be found. If the mod hasn't been updated since 2012, this is a MUST.


WinRaR or alternative:


For WinRaR, open the compressed file and extract to a new folder in desktop (extracting to data folder itself may not work due to admin privileges). Click and drag OR copy from inside the new folder and paste it into where it needs to be. 

Usually, you need to paste in here.


C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\data


C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim


Simply read the readme.txt or instructions.




A must have for many popular mods, such as SKYUI. 



Simply download, and put data folder and other files *in same directory* into skyrim folder.

After installation, remember to run SKSE, not Skyrim Launcher or Skyrim.


Nexus Mod Manager:
Download and install. Pretty self explanatory. Use launch SKSE, and if you suffer from download problems change servers:
Settings -> Download Options -> Server Location
Remember to check the mods for updates.
Mods->Latest Version
Download manually, and run the application.
Always run it when installing new mods! It's easy and automatic! Also, you can see which mods have dirty edits!
Wyre Bash:
You can get this at nexus mod manager HOWEVER, version 303 crashes whenever you rebuild a bashed patch.
A pretty self-explanatory installer. I wouldn't recommend python or standalone executable.
Get version 302 instead. To make a bashed patch
1. Open, click "Mods" tab find "Bashed Patch, 0.esp"
2. Right click and click on "Rebuild Patch"
3. Click "Build Patch"
Wyre Bash also discovers missing masters(esm) or missing plugins(esp). Just go to
Mods Tab: If anything is "Red" find a fix!
Download using manager, and go through the install. Afterwords, note that most mods use the MCM interface that comes with SkyUI. Mod Configuration Menu is found in the menus.
Escape Key(default)-> Mod Configuration
Unofficial Skyrim Patch and DLC Patches:
Check download section in this post for download links!
Must have bug fixes! DO NOT UNINSTALL CASUALLY(usually it's another mod or save game causing the problems) or you may break your save.
There are no unsafe changes, and the patches are VERY stable. 
Save Game Cleaner:
Install manually, and extract.
1. Load your save file.
2. Open the console using the ~ key on your keyboard and type the following:
save mysave 1
3. The game will make a dump file, so wait a few minutes.
"mysave.ess.txt" AND "mysave.ess"
5. Run SKYRIM Save Cleaner.exe
6. click on "fix all REFR's", Follow the prompts "mysave.ess.txt" AND "mysave.ess" are in your skyrim saves folder
Documents\My Games\Skyrim\Saves
7. once finished load "mysave.ess" from in-game skyrim load menu.
The application resets a lot of references, removing dead bodies etc. Use for bloated saves.

It is still possible to experience crashes, and the save game cleaner will not clean everything. When in doubt, make a new game. Some saves cannot be saved.


Skryim Configurator:


Install manually, extract and run.


Change the settings to what you want. It saves changes to .ini files, just choose and click "Apply". Done!

Much more useful than Skyrim Launcher.



Graphics card booster, reduces lag and significantly decreases loading times. DO NOT use outdated performance mods such as Skyboost! Most performance fixes in Skyboost were already fixed by Bethesda.

Extract into 

C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim


When it's running there's a pop-up before Skyrim start, and a logo at the top right when playing.


Project Optimization:
Improvements to interiors, increases performance. Very, very useful.
Generate FNIS for Users:
Adds animations to game. Download, and install. Run Generate FNIS for Users after installation, or the animations will not be added.
Unifies all SkyProc patchers for patch adding. 
Download, and run the java program to patch the game for mods like Skyrim Redone(SkyRe) and Dual Sheath Redux.
Optimizer Textures:
Optimizes textures via compression. Download, and run.
Click under "Profiles" and choose your optimization *minimum(safe), medium, maximum*
Download, and run. Use the application only if you know what you are doing.
For simple mod cleaning:
1. In the master/plugin selction, right click and select none.
2. Use BOSS, and check which mods have dirty edits *SELECT ONLY THE MODS THAT ARE DIRTY*.
3. Right-click where the form ids are, and click "Apply Filter for Cleaning"
4. Afterwords, right-click again and click on
Undelete and Disable References 
Remove "Identical to Masters" Records
A.K.A. UDR records and ITM
Dirty edits do not always need to be cleaned, usually BOSS automatically sets load orders to work perfectly. However, mods with many dirty edits are mods that cause most of the crashes.
Project Stability:
Ini Tweaks and other stability fixes. Useful walkthrough(not a mod!)

A helpful guide for ENB!


Use this link to get good mods. Sorted by endorsements:



Mods to avoid:

Based off of Project Stability's List

Claralux v2A: Last update was June 2012. Broken and no longer supported.
Warzones v5B: Last update was June 2012. Broken scripts, dirty edits, and no longer supported.
Imaginator v1c: Causes savegame bloat over an extended period of time.
Crimson Tide-Blood v2-2: Unstable, with cloaking scripts.
Skyboost: Outdated performance fixes
Be wary of these mods:
Painstakingly went through 30+ pages of mods
Ultimate Follower Overhaul: Dirty edits, and many compatibility patches required.
Use Amazing Follower Tweaks instead.
Skyrim HD - 2K Textures: Isn't this unnecessary due to the HD DLC?
Categorized Favorites Menu: May be broken. Will be replaced by SKYUI4
Tytanis: Outdated
Immersive Skyrim Thunder: outdated but may work
High Quality 3D Map: Old , A Quality World Map - With Roads may suit your mapping needs.
Brawls Bug Patch: Already in Unofficial skyrim patch.
Nude Females: ??? Old.
Skyrim NPC Editor 0_75_1: No longer supported, outdated
Main Font Replacement: Already a function in SkyUi
DSpSoB - Dual Sheath plus Shields on Back: Outdated, slower
Use Duel Sheath Redux Instead
QDInventory - Outdated and overtaken by SkyUI
Skyrim Performance Plus: Outdated performance enhancing mod
PISE: Outdated
Use ASIS instead
Deadly Combat: Outdated
Use Duel - Combat Realism instead
Rich Merchants: WAAAAAY Outdated. superseded by many mods
E.g economics of skyrim
Better Magic: Outdated, might as well use
Skyrim Redone
Faster Mining: Outdated
Populated Cities: Haven't been updated in a long time
Inconsquetial NPCs is a good alternative
Better Followers: Outdated
Dungeon Quest Awareness: Doesn't work with dawnguard or dragonborn
KenMOD - Skip Bethesda intro: Already done by
Skyrim Configurator
Uncapped Perks - Outdated use another mod
Immersive Armors for NPCs v2 - Outdated
Brawl Bug Plugin - Superceded
Dynamic Merchants - Outdated
Legendary Smithing Upgrades - Outdated
Arrowsmith - Reupload - Outdated
Faster Horses - Outdated
Use Convenient Horses instead
Werewolf Perks Expanded - Dawnguard: Dirty Edits, outdated
100x Your Carry Weight - or 10x or 25x - Outdated, may not work anymore.
BYOG still works, try that!
Skyrim Universal 4GB Memory Patch - Outdated, already patched.
PerkUP - Ultimate Perk Mod - Outdated
Hypothermia - Outdated
Use Frostfall instead
Same Walk and Run Speeds - Outdated
Midas Magic: Unsupported/abandoned.  there is a Sharlikrans Compatibility Patch
Better Sorting: No longer supported however, there is a Sharlikrans Compatibility Patch
Smithing Perks Overhaul: No longer supported, there is a sharlikrans compatibility patch.
Lost Art of the Blacksmith: No longer supported, there is a sharlikrans compatibility patch.
Vals Crafting Meltdown: no longer supported, there is a sharlikrans compatibility patch.
More Craftables: no longer supported, there is a sharlikrans compatibility patch.
Babette's Feast - no longer supported, there is a sharlikrans compatibility patch.
Sharlikrans Compatibility Patches:
Fixes for old mods.
Brilliant work in progress
Useful for finding good, new mods.
and... i'm done

Edited by kyu1595, 15 June 2013 - 10:36 AM.



    Inglorious Underking

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Great work man, here are a couple of things I've noticed.


Main font replacement is still valid and, so far as I know, SKYUI does not have a function like it does.  A high quality 3d map is contains only meshes and can be used in unison with a quality world map with roads.  



    Resident poster

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I wish I had this when I commenced the madness....thanks!  Excuse me while I go do some antique mod deletions. :)



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deadly combat outdated? outdated by what?
i can think of several functions in DC that have never been replicated in other mods.

Edited by GrimyBunyip, 23 June 2013 - 03:52 PM.




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@GrandBulwark check the mcm for sky ui. You can change fonts there. A high quality 3d map hasn't been updated in a while, so not sure if it works perfectly.

@shubal no problem, I ran into some mod issues too, found out that some mods don't like to play nice xD

@grimybunyip, deadly combat hasn't been updated since August 2012. That's a huge warning sign, and the guy who created it apparently broke both his legs, so he won't be fixing any bugs. (Read the main page) That was before dragonborn even came out at version 1.7. Who knows how many bugs could've piled up since then?




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I noticed that Imaginator is not recommended and was wondering is there was a better alternative. I use Climates of Tamriel and Relighting Skyrim for my lighting along with Imaginator to achieve a look I am currently happy with. I really don't like using any of the ENBs out there as they degrade my games performance a little more than I like.


Like I said CoT along with Imaginator gives me a look I really like with no performance hit. Ill happily check out any alternatives.




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Imaginator doesn't really have an alternative, its one of a kind. it hasn't been updated in over a year(so there might be a few bugs).

However It's such a simple not really scripted mod that it shouldn't be a problem, and the mod author hasn't completely given it up(updated the page recently). So, if you haven't had problems with it, keep using it. It'll probably be fine




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Alright thanks, I will keep using it then. Imaginator is really great at letting a user fine tune the look of Skyrim without delving deep into the manual editing of text files which I am capable of but just do not want to be bothered with.


One thing I have noticed with being so new to the modding of Skyrim is the shear vastness of choices in mods its very hard to figure out where to start. So like any newb I just started with the mods with the most downloads and endorsements but completely overlooking the fact some may be outdated and no longer as good as they once were. It's good to have a thread like this to point people to  newer improved alternatives. Thanks to this thread I removed a couple of mods listed as being "problematic" and I did notice a slight performance gain.




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Minor quip of mine, have the mod names that are outdated in like bold or red - make them stand out while the replacements are italicized and in like blue. It'd seem that would make the mods easier to read.




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I suggest adding Mod Organizer to this list. It is fabublous tool to manage mods.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: mod, skyrim, crashes, stability, performance, troubleshooting, crash to desktop, install, load order, nexus

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