7 Common Reasons Why Windows Can Get Unresponsive

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A irresponsive system is a relatively common error you will encounter when using a PC. In many cases, you won’t even get a message that your system is not responding because the computer has hung and it can’t send you even that message. Very often, when your system is not responding, this means that neither the mouse, nor the keyboard are working and the only solution is to hit the Restart button.

When your system is not responding, usually CPU usage is at 100%, no matter if you do anything or not. On the other hand, it is not mandatory for this to happen, so if your CPU usage is not shown to be 100%, it is still possible that your system is not responding.

7 Reasons Why a System Is Not Responding

There are tons of reasons why a system can stop responding ““ it could be due to a hardware or a software conflict. Such errors don’t happen only on PCs but on all kinds of hardware (if this is of any comfort to you) and the symptoms could vary ““ from a totally blocked machine – to a PC which is responding very, very slowly. Here are seven of the most common reasons why a system is not responding and what you can do to prevent them.

1. Hardware incompatibilities

This is one of the most frequent reasons why a system stops responding. The culprit could be anything ““ from a mouse/keyboard, to a CD drive, to a USB device. In some cases, you might even experience a Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), which is one more symptom of hardware incompatibilities. Remove the suspect and replace it with a functioning device and see if this helps.

bsod
A Blue Screen of Death is one of the most common symptoms when a system becomes irresponsive

2. Driver issues

Even if the hardware itself is not a problem, the drivers that manage it could be. If you have recently installed a new driver, this is the first suspect to check. Uninstall the driver and see if this helps. Don’t worry, there are easy ways to remove old and faulty drivers from Windows.

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3.Messed up Windows Registry

Windows and its Registry are very complex creatures and even minor messes with them could not only make a system not responding error but could even make a computer totally useless. That is why it is a good idea to clean your Windows and the Registry from time to time, even if there are no visible problems. One great way to do it is with the help of nCleaner.

4. Malware of all kinds

Spyware, adware, trojans and the other pests you get for free from the Internet, are also a common reasons why a system is not responding. Just run a good anti-malware program and that’s it. Here are some great free online malware and virus scanners you might want to check.

5. Antivirus programs

As strange as it might sound, anti-virus programs can hang a computer. If you have more than one anti-virus program, conflicts between them are pretty common but even if you have only one anti-virus program, still there are many ways in which it can mess with the Registry, or with the applications on your computer, thus causing it to crash. Try to see which of the antivirus program is the problem and uninstall it. For antivirus recommendations, take a look at our poll for the best free Antivirus applications.

6. Bugs in applications

Poorly-written system tools and applications can cause a lot of trouble but it is not only system applications that can crash a computer. Browsers, such as Firefox or Internet Explorer can frequently hang when a poorly-written script is executed. If you are lucky to know which application in particular makes your system irresponsive, uninstall it (or in the case of a browser ““ disable the faulty plugin) and pray that this fixes the situation.

7. User intervention

Tweaks are great and very often they are safe to do (if you take the necessary precautions, of course) but as a matter of fact, tweaks that went bad are also a common reason for why a system is not responding. That’s why you need to be very cautious when you tweak your computer. And above all ““ always make a backup, a system image and/or a restore point before you start tweaking, so that if the tweak goes unplanned, you still have a lifeline.

The above reasons and their suggested workarounds are just some of the most common causes as to why a system is not responding. When your system is not responding, try these solutions and if they solve your problem ““ be very, very happy about it!

Feeling geeky? Check out these articles to make your computer run faster and troubleshoot problems:

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Comments (10)
  • Vukile

    I tried installing avast anti virus 2014 on my Windows XP pc, the pc then automatically restarted itself, now its frozen, I’ve restarted 4 times already but no application or file is responding or opening…help

  • Lawrenzi

    Thank you sooo much. It works..

  • Tana

    Regarding Registry Cleaners
    They could help – for a moderately messed up Windows installation. For a seriously messed up Windows installation my personal favorite is reinstallation (or more precisely – restoring Windows from a clean image).

  • Tana

    To Shreela – it is quite possible that the combination of 2 apps is “toxic” for your computer. It is bad, when you need both applications.

  • andy

    Registry cleaners are a waste of time and more dangerous according to numerous experts at http://www.aumha.org

    Don’t waste your time with those. Just use something that can track the installation of a new program and then TOTALLY uninstall it if you don’t use it.

    • Nicbot

      Agreed. I’ve been working with Windows for a long long time and have never fixed a ‘frozen’ or ‘unresponsive’ issue with any registry cleaner. On the flip side, registry cleaners have broken things a few times.

      A more likely fix for core windows component corruption would be System File Checker ‘sfc /scannow’ In fact, how did that not make this list?? It’s built in even!

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This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.