Take action, track down what causes your computer to lock up on you and how you can stop it from happening. We have previously introduced 7 Common Reasons Why Windows Can Get Unresponsive. This article examines how you can troubleshoot the causes for a freezing computer and what you can do to fix it.
If you’re struggling with a slow and unresponsive system, we will shortly be publishing a PDF manual called Windows on Speed which will help you learn what makes your system become sluggish and how you can regain a top Windows performance. Make sure you subscribe to MakeUseOf so you don’t miss the manual when it comes out!
Prelude: Make a Backup
The very first thing you need to do when your computer starts acting up is to create a backup of your personal data. Don’t waste time trying to troubleshoot or fix anything. Just make a backup. Right NOW!
You should consider logging into Safe Mode to perform the backup. You may find that it makes your system a lot more stable! That would also be a first step in troubleshooting.
Now that you have your personal data backed up, let’s start troubleshooting and resolving the issues.
1. Troubleshoot Software Issues
A freezing operating system may have a lot of underlying issues. To verify whether or not your freezes are software-induced, boot your system into Safe Mode.
Safe Mode is a boot option that launches your computer in a very limited state. Only the most basic files and drivers absolutely necessary to run the operating system are loaded. If your system appears stable in Safe Mode, it is very likely that you have software issues, like driver conflicts or malware.
The article below explains how to boot into Safe Mode:
If you do not see an improvement in Safe Mode, proceed to point 2.
If you do see an improvement, try the following:
- uninstall recently installed devices and their drivers.
- make sure you only have one antivirus program installed.
- perform a Windows upgrade.
- update any programs you are using regularly and all hardware drivers.
- if running a specific program causes the freezes, try to update, uninstall, and reinstall the program.
- in Safe Mode, scan your system for malware and remove anything you find.
- perform general system maintenance.
Here are some useful resources for the above steps:
- How To Uninstall Applications Efficiently And Remove Obsolete Files by Stefan
- Stop & Delete Spyware With Malwarebytes [Windows] by Jimmy
- 7 Essential Security Downloads You MUST Have Installed by Aibek
- 10 Quick Fixes to Make your Windows Computer Faster by Shankar
- Speeding Up Windows 7: Everything You Need to Know by Mahendra
2. Troubleshoot Hardware Issues
The Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD) is a strong sign for a hardware incompatibility. The displayed error code provides a clue for what caused the computer to crash. Subsequently, you should analyze the error reports that Windows stores in response to a BSOD crash.
The following resources will help:
- 4 Tips To Help You Fix The Windows Blue Screen Error by Ryan
- How to Find BSOD (Blue Screen) Error Messages
- How To Use the Windows Debugging Tools to Analyze Crash Dump (BSOD)
If updating or removing hardware drivers didn’t work and in case you don’t get a BSOD, you need to examine potential physical causes. Your computer could be overheating, a device could be damaged and dying, or a cable could be loose. Before you touch your hardware, however, make sure your computer is properly turned off to protect yourself. You must also ground yourself to avoid a discharge of static electricity, which could (further) damage your hardware.
The best way to troubleshoot hardware issues is to…
- physically clean your hardware, i.e. free fans and power supply from dust.
- check all cables for damage or loose connections.
- check whether hardware components like the graphics card are properly plugged into the motherboard.
- remove or replace single components like RAM modules and boot the computer without them.
The last point will reveal whether one of these components is broken.
3. Restore Windows
Windows can create restore points that allow you to roll back your entire system to a previous stable state. Make use of this feature and go back to a restore point where your system did not freeze or crash. The best thing is that you won’t lose your personal files.
This articles explains how it’s done:
Last Resort: Repair Or Reinstall Windows
The easiest way to resolve issues with a Windows operating system that constantly freezes is a fresh installation. It is normal to reinstall Windows every 6 months to 2 years. If you’re running an older installation, it’s about time that you give it a fresh start!
- How To Reinstall Windows Without Losing Your Data by Jorge
- How to Prepare Yourself for System Restore From Scratch by Tina
Did this article help you to fix your computer from freezing? Please report your experiences!