Things to ALWAYS do
1. Save often; not quicksave or autosave, a full save.
2. Have about 4 saves you rotate, saving over the oldest one each time.
3. Load full saves when possible
4. Do not quit game with console comand qqq
Full saves clean up running scripts. A full save will have between 0-10 active scripts when you load them. Quicksaves and autosaves can easily have hundreds. Which would you rather load?
After a bunch of trial and error, having fun with the console, and generally frustrated with crashes I couldn't figure out, I finally found a method that has fixed every single Crash To Desktop (CDT). It's simple and just requires a little bit of maintenance.
I'll go over everything in three phases as if you don't have a clue except for updates and patches. The things you'll need:
(Links valid as of Dec 10, 2018. All directions based on Mod Mang version 0.65.2 and using Steam.)
Nexus Mod Manager: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/modmanager/
Unofficial Skyrim Legendary Edition Patch: https://www.nexusmods.com/skyrim/mods/71214
Part One – Basic Setup (skip if you have the list above installed and running)
Download all the apps above to a specific folder you create just for them. After installing Nexus Mod Manager (NMM), start it with a right-click and choose 'Run as administrator". If you Windows user account is not an administrator account, your life will suck until you fix it.
Once open, choose the MODS tab and use the green plus icon 'Add Mod from File' and grab the other four files from the folder you created (they are dropped into the Unassigned folder by default). Double click each file and let them install. A green checkbox will show next to them when complete.
At the top of the NMM, there is a search window. To the right of that is the drop-down choices for utilities. In the beginning, all of them will say, "Config…". We want to do config LOOT, TES5EDIT, and FNIS. Clicking on each one will ask you to browse to the folder the executable is located. By default, look in C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim\Data .
For TES5EDIT, choose the data folder. For LOOT, choose the subfolder that starts "loot…". For FNIS, choose the subfolder starts "FNIS Behavior…". Now all three are ready to Launch from the NMM.
Part Two – Maintenance and cleaning (skip if you know how to use LOOT, TES5EDIT and FNIS properly)
In the order below, it's good to run this cleanup whenever you install any mod. It's ok to install a bunch at once but go through these steps before you start the game.
Step 1: Launch LOOT. At the top there is a triple-bar icon for 'Sort Plugins'. This will reorder your plugin list for the optimal load order. It's pretty infallible so learn to trust it. Once reordered, the icon will change to a button to APPLY. Do so. If the APPLY doesn't appear, it's because your order is fine and doesn't need to be changed.
Scan down the report on the right side. Look for any yellow boxes that warn you it found a number of ITM record, deleted references, and/or deleted navmeshes. These are the ones you want to clean up with TES5EDIT so remember them or write them down. You want to clean these one at a time. If you don't have any problems, go to step three.
Step 2: Switch back to NMM and launch TES5EDIT. It will ask you which mod you wish to look at. Right-click on the list and choose 'Select None'. Now find and check the mod you need to fix and click OK.
After a few seconds, you'll see a list on the left side that ends with the mod you chose. The others in the list are simply those your mod requires to run. You will ignore them and right click on the mod you are fixing. Choose 'Apply Filter for Cleaning'. Once it's done, right click it again and choose 'Remove Identical to Master Records'. Once it's done, right click one more time and choose 'Undelete and disable References'. MAKE SURE YOU SAVE THE CHANGES BY USING CTL-S. Now close TES5EDIT.
Flip back to LOOT and run the 'Sort Plugins' again. The mod you just cleaned should no longer have any warnings (if it says there are wild edits but nothing else, it's ok). Continue scanning the list for any others that need fixing and start step two again. If there aren't any more, go to step three.
Step 3: Switch back to NMM and launch FNIS. Click 'Update FNIS Behavior'. When it's done, click EXIT.
You want to run these three steps any time you load new mods.
Part Three – Fixing the Crash to Desktop
Even after you've done all that stuff, it will sometimes crash on transitions or when you move to a new area. The forums are full of people who experience this and can't find the cause. It's simply, the game sometimes leaves things laying around that it shouldn't. The more (or bigger) mods you have, the more crap it can't clean up. There is a quick in-game fix.
Step 1: Setup batch files in your game folder where the game executable resides. For me, my TESV.exe is my C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\skyrim . Where ever yours may be, you want to make two blank TXT files in that folder. Name them 'clean1' and 'clean2'.
Use the following script in clean1:
setgs iHoursToRespawnCell 1
setgs iHoursToRespawnCellCleared 1
set timescale to 200
Use the following script in clean2:
setgs iHoursToRespawnCell 240
setgs iHoursToRespawnCellCleared 720
set timescale to 20
Save them both.
Step 2: Now you can fix the last of your problems within the game. Start the game and load your file (if it crashed on load, find an earlier save that will load).
Once in game, check the in-game time and remember it (I use the mod 'A Matter of Time' to display the time on the HUD). Now, hit the tilde key (to the left of the 1 key) to bring up the game console. Type [ bat clean1 ] without the brackets. Close the console with the tilde. Keep an eye on the game time and wait for an hour to pass (it should take about 18 seconds). Once an hour has passed, bring up the console again and type [ bat clean2 ] without the brackets. Close the console with the tilde.
EDIT Jan 10, 2019
Thanks Pallentibus for pointing out the ReSaver app. While it's good for cleaning up problem files, it's real strength is maintenance.
Ongoing Maintenance: ReSaver? More like ReSavior.
Step 1. After you install Re-Saver, start it up. After it helps you find the game file folder, it will show you all your saves, including quicksaves and autosaves. ONLY USE FULL SAVES. The others have way too many active scripts and Re-Saver can't perform miracles.
Step 2. Once loaded, at the top, choose CLEAN > REMOVE UNATTACHED INSTANCES. It will go quick and give you a message on how many it found and removed. The choose CLEAN > REMOVE UNDEFINED ELEMENTS. Again, you'll get another message when it's complete.
Step 3. Choose FILE > SAVE AS and give it a different name. DO NOT OVER RIGHT the old file.
Use the batch file mentioned in Part 3, Step 2 about every week or so in game time. Use ReSaver every 6-12 hours of real-time. I haven't had a crash since. I know I just jinxed myself but these methods work so consistently.
Edited by JoeDazzling, 26 January 2019 - 04:02 PM.