How to Stop After Effects from Crashing

After Effects 23/08/2021 5 min read

Do you find that After Effects keeps crashing, shutting down, or failing to render or export? You’re not the only one. There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able just to get your project finished because After Effects keeps shutting down. There could be any number of reasons why this might be the case, so check out the troubleshooting tips below and bring some pleasure back into your workflow.

Top 8 Fixes to Stop Common After Effects Crashes

1. Update Your Software

This is an easy one. It takes no time or expertise at all to update your software, and it could be a perfect fix! The purpose of software updates is for developers to fix bugs and mistakes in their software. Adobe regularly releases updates to keep everything ticking over, and it may be that if your version is After Effects is out of date, you’re simply working with something Adobe has already fixed in an update. To do this:

  • Go to your Creative Cloud Application Manager.
  • In the After Effects section, select Update

2. Media and Disk Cache

If your media and disk cache is located on a slow drive with less than 10GB of space, you’ll probably be encountering some problems. One recommendation is to get a cheap SSD, the only purpose of which is to hold the scratch disk materials. If you don’t have one to hand, go into After Effects to make your system more stable.

  • In Adobe After Effects, go to Edit > Preferences > Media Cache.
  • Under Disk Cache, select Choose Folder and select a location on your fastest possible drive with more than 30GB spare.

Sometimes the scratch disk files can be corrupted, or there isn’t enough space to read or write to your drive. With this in mind, try deleting all of the scratch disk files.

  • In the Media Cache window, hit Empty Disk Cache.

While you’re here, try also purging your RAM.

  • Go to Edit > Purge > All Memory & Disk Cache
  • Hit OK.

This clears the memory and any corrupted disk cache files. Don’t worry—purging memory isn’t dangerous at all. The worst thing to happen is that After Effects just needs to process your timeline again. Think of it as a refresh.

3. Reserve RAM

Try programming your computer to push more resources towards After Effects. It’s a pretty intensive, hungry program, and it needs all the processing power it can get.

  • Go to Edit > Preferences > Memory.
  • Reduce the number beside RAM reserved for other applications.

You want this number as low as possible, so the computer prioritizes After Effects when allocating RAM.

Even if this doesn’t fix any root problems, it will still boost the performance of After Effects overall.

4. Video Card Problems

This is where a lot of errors can occur when rendering, exporting, and overall system crashes. Depending on your system, you can actually use the video card to take the load off the CPU for some pretty hard-working tasks. But disabling some of these features lets you test whether or not that’s the root cause of any errors and crashes. 

  • Go to Preferences > Display.
  • Deselect Hardware Accelerate Composition Layer.
  • Go to File > Project Settings.
  • Under Video Rendering and Effects, select a non-GPU acceleration option.

This will slow down the overall speed of the system, but it might also prevent crashes.

Trying some or all of these should help you narrow down the cause of any problems. But if you want to delve into fixing the GPU itself, there’s a simple place for you to start by updating your graphics card’s drivers.

First, you need to figure out what brand of GPU you’re using.

If you’re on a Mac:

Go to Apple > About This Mac

Under Graphics, you should see your setup. But any updates should be included in your Software Update as a whole.

To do this on Windows:

Go to the Task Manager > Performance > GPU.

It’ll say what your brand of GPU is at the top of the window.

Let’s say you have an Nvidia graphics card. To update the drivers:

  • Head to the Nvidia website.
  • Go to the Drivers section.
  • Use your GPU information to search for that specific GPU on the website downloads section.
  • Download the most recent set of drivers.
  • Double-click on them.
  • Click Next, and your computer will handle the rest.

5. Crashing on Export

Is your project completed, and you’re just having trouble with the export? Well, forget about exporting in After Effects, and take it to Media Encoder instead.

It’s dead easy:

  • Instead of pressing Render, press Queue. This will open up Adobe Media Encoder. 
  • Choose your export settings and hit the green arrow when you’re ready.

This should give you a more stable render. Even if the render fails, it shouldn’t crash your entire system, which is a lot less frustrating and gives you a chance to figure out what else might be going wrong.

6. Third-Party Plugins

Third-party plugins can really help your workflow, but can also totally mess up your system. This is usually confounded by having different versions of After Effects running on your computer. If nothing else has worked for you so far, try this.

Navigate to this location (on a Mac):

Applications/Adobe After Effects <version>

Or this location (on Windows):

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe After Effects <version>\Support Files

  • Copy and paste your plugins to a new location for safekeeping.
  • Delete the plugins found in your After Effects folder.
  • Re-open After Effects.

This might be frustrating if you are using those plugins in your current project, but once the problem is resolved then you can use the plugins again. Sometimes a little re-jig will be enough to get your computer going!

7. After Effects Doesn’t Open

It’s pretty tricky troubleshooting problems if you can’t even get to the settings in the first place. If After Effects doesn’t open at all: 

  1. Head to the file paths in tip 6, and see if there are any additional versions of After Effects on your system.
  2. Rename any older versions by adding the phrase (old) in the title.

Sometimes if you have multiple versions of After Effects installed, your computer will try and take information from all of them at the same time. Renaming the older applications gives it a little more clarity.

You might come across a situation where that works the first time, but any subsequent attempts to open the application will fail. In that case, contact Adobe support.

8. The “Non-Tech” Solutions 

Alright, so that’s the software-related issues out of the way, try some of these non-tech tips and tricks.

If your computer might be overheating:

  1. Try lifting your laptop off the table, and use a mount or stand to keep the air flowing underneath it while you work.
  2. If you have a desktop, see if any of the fans have stopped spinning, or place a room fan next to it to blow cold air onto it.

Or maybe your computer just isn’t well specced enough to use After Effects. As we’ve established, it’s a pretty intense piece of software, and you might need to look at upgrading.

  1. Check out the hardware requirements for Adobe After Effects

It doesn’t need the most top-of-the-range software to run smoothly. It’s more about making smart, strategic choices to make the most of your computer. 

There we have it. A misbehaving After Effects can be one of the most frustrating things you will encounter as a creator, especially when you’re staring down the barrel of a client’s deadline. But try one or all of the tips and tricks above, and you should be well on your way to preventing After Effects from crashing all of the time.

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