Audio latency cause by wdf01000.sys, network drivers?
Update, July 2021: The problem is not fixed; the computer can now go all day without problems, but it resurfaces if I leave it running overnight. This might turn out to be one of those “don’t do that then” solutions.
Not sure when exactly it started. My old-but-normally-fine Dell Optiplex 790 running the latest Windows 10 started having audio “cracking” and stuttering. It was like a rapid intermittent buzzing sound that would last a fraction of a second a couple of times a minute. Restarting would fix the problem, but only temporarily.
This was kind of a hard problem to google for.
I eventually found a program, LatencyMon that seems to be designed to troubleshoot exactly this problem.
The program indicated
wdf01000.sys was the biggest culprit, and the network interface was the second-biggest. That didn’t seem very helpful. I can’t exactly disable the windows driver framework.
My NIC is an Intel 82579LM Gigabit (on-board). I tried “update driver” through the NIC’s properties in Device Manager and it told me the vintage 2015 driver I had installed was already the latest version.
But eventually I googled for drivers for my specific NIC and downloaded some from Intel’s website, and that seemed to fix the problem. Even though the new drivers are only one year newer than the old ones (2015 → 2016). New driver version is 188.8.131.52.