Why Does Windows Crash? The Top 10 Reasons

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why does windows crashOh, great. Another blue screen, boot issue or frozen screen in Windows. Now you have to restart and lose most or all of the work you’d been trying to accomplish. It’s frustrating both because of the interruption and because the cause often isn’t clear.

Crashes aren’t just a part of using Windows. The operating system is stable for many people, so if your PC consistently crashes there is most likely a reason. Let’s take a look at the 10 most likely reasons why Windows crashes.

Bad Memory Or Motherboard

why does windows crash

Many crashes, particularly those that result in a Blue Screen Of Death (BSOD), occur because of a memory or motherboard issue. This can result in a Fatal Exception Error, which basically means data that should be stored in memory could not be retrieved.

You can test memory with a utility like Memtest86 or, in some cases, a built-in motherboard diagnostic tool (see the motherboard’s manual).  Another way to test is to simply swap in new memory and see if the issue goes away. If it does not, and the RAM you installed was correct, the motherboard may be the issue.

BIOS Settings

reasons windows crash

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Most motherboards come from the factory with settings that are broadly compatible. These then might be altered by the PC’s builder, be it a company or individual. The settings should stick but they’ll revert to default if the CMOS battery (which powers the BIOS memory) goes flat. That can cause your boot order to be re-arranged or put different components in conflict.

Another common problem with boot order is a high placement of USB or CD-Drives. If you leave USB drive plugged in to your PC, and the BIOS is set to boot from USB first, your PC will not boot properly. You can change the boot order or simply remove the offending drive.

Corrupt Registry

The Windows Registry doesn’t run into problems like it used to, but issues are still possible. A corrupt registry can cause a computer to crash or may prevent it from booting properly.

Quality registry fix software can often fix this problem. If your computer will not boot properly try to run Windows in Safe Mode and run the software from there.

Incorrect Or Corrupt Drivers

reasons windows crash

Drivers tell hardware what to do. If they aren’t working properly they can cause crashes, including BSODs, even if the hardware is perfect condition.

Crashes of this type are usually associated with an error message. Sometimes the error message will clearly name the offending hardware. If it does not, try running the message through Google to see if that helps you find the culprit.

Once the hardware driver with a problem is identified you can search online for an updated driver and install it. If the problem persists, try completely uninstalling the driver and then re-installing it from scratch.

Hard Drive Problems

A hard drive failure is a leading cause of boot issues. If your computer mysteriously loses its ability to find the boot drive, but BIOS is properly configured, a hard drive issue is the culprit. Hard drive issues are also often behind crashes that occur only when opening a specific file.

If you can still boot to the drive try running a free hard drive test to see if there’s any obvious issues. A healthy report should give you cause to look elsewhere for the problem, but a bad report means your drive has one foot in the grave.

A drive that doesn’t boot at all is bad news. Try it with another PC, if possible, to confirm the drive is the problem. I hope you backed up your data!

Hardware Conflicts

reasons windows crash

Windows can sometimes crash if it is receiving conflicting information from different pieces of hardware. This is a hardware conflict. It’s not always harmful, but it’s a common source of freezes and BSODs.

You can see if there’s a hardware conflict by opening the Device Manager. If a conflict exists it will be visible in this utility with a yellow and black exclamation icon. Take a look at the hardware that is conflicting and view its properties through the right-click menu to find more information.

From there, solutions vary. Sometimes the issue is caused by drivers. In other cases it can be caused by BIOS misconfiguration or faulty hardware. Try searching the Internet or ask fellow readers at MakeUseOf Answers.

Virus Or Trojan

reasons windows 7 crashes

A virus or Trojan can cause serious harm to a PC. It might corrupt or remove drivers, delete important system files or change administrative settings. All of these can cause unexpected crashes, freezes or leave you locked out of programs.

To be honest, any fight against malware is usually lost the moment you notice it. The problem is that, once it’s taken hold on your system, it’s very difficult to trust that the methods you’d normally use to diagnose your PC are working as they should. The best you can do is download a trusted antivirus and start scanning.

If you can’t seem to root out the malware you made need to nuke the drive and re-install Windows. This is why you should always use an antivirus, run a firewall and frequently back up your data.

Power issues

reasons windows 7 crashes

In some cases a persistent crash issue, particularly a random reboot or a BSOD caused by hardware you’ve verified to be working properly, is the result of a power issue. You should only turn to this possibility if you’ve eliminated all other possibilities.

There are two potential causes. By far the most common is faulty power supply. A problem with the supply that reduces the power it can deliver, or causes an uneven flow of power, can result in otherwise unexplainable crashes. The only solution is to replace the power supply.

Problems with the power in your home or apartment could also be the problem. An overloaded circuit, poor wiring or a faulty power strip could be the culprit. You can diagnose this by moving the PC to another room to see if the crashes suddenly stop.


Most software errors will not cause Windows to crash. Both the operating system and the software that runs on it have become more reliable over the years.

Still, software issues can cause random lock-ups. The culprit is often obvious because the problem only occurs when that software is used. It will be less obvious if the problem software is running in the background.

In rare cases your PC might freeze on boot because of software that runs automatically. You can usually resolve this by booting to safe mode and using msconfig to disable software that runs at boot.


reasons windows 7 crashes

Computer components are sensitive to heat. Too much can cause permanent damage, so hardware will shut itself down before that point is reached. A crash error can result.

Overheating can be blamed for random re-boots and BSODs that appear to be driver issues but occur after the driver is re-installed. A beep or series of beeps from the computer at the time it crashes might be an error code telling you the processor has overheated. Check the motherboard’s manual to confirm.

There source of the problem can vary. It may be inadequate case ventilation, a faulty fan or heatsink that has loosened. Laptops can overheat simply because they’re placed on the wrong surface.


This list should provide some insight into why crashes can be so persistent and annoying. There are many reasons why Windows could crash, and often a single problem might have multiple possible causes. I hope this article has pointed you in the right direction.

Image Credits: Ian Dick,Chareen Nelson, Laura Billings, Nick@

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Comments (95)
  • Sandip

    I was always curious why my windows crashed about 2-3 times a year, regardless of the fact that I am a very basic daily user (browsing and watching movies). Then I realized that I had nothing to do with it except my total hardware configuration is in plain words CHEAP. And it was not one particular component. It was altogether bullshit.

  • Hamed Hosseinian

    so informative subject
    as the thing that i see i have 3 old pc in my home but all of them have such problem
    i got some time angry and wanna to put down my all pc in to yard with violence
    therefore i read that article and find that may some of failure my detail hardware of my pc cause
    repeated hang and break down but i wouldn’t been gray and i do your recipe pace to pace
    and take some detail test of my pc to solve this problem
    thanks to you

  • Bryan

    I am consumer !!!!!
    That is who I am !
    I have little or limited knowledge of home computers, when you talk about software and hardware I really don’t know what the Hell you are talking about.
    I have been around these PC s for a long time, I have bought millions of laptops and pads and tablets and even Desk tops ..
    These seem to be a must have in everyday life especially if you own a business..
    We are the main consumers of these devices..
    Not computer heads ..
    The producers and makers of these devices know us very well , they know we must and like having these PCs ..
    We are kept in the Dark on how they work and function.
    What I’m saying is. They are made to fail.. I would say like the Cell phones are made to fail every two years. Or close too.
    No one really knows all the answers to why they fail.. Your not supposed to..
    You are supposed to run down to Best Buy or Dell or Asus or Apple and quickly buy a new one. And you need to buy a better one than what you had ..Faster w/ more hard drive and all the Bells And whistles ..
    You paid $400. For the last one ? Well you need to spend $600. For the next one .. Or $900. For the Best or $1500. For the Bestest ..
    Can’t afford one ? Take out a loan .. Or go spend $$$$ on getting your old one fixed. Either way it’s just about the money.
    Follow the money trail… Hasn’t anyone figured it out yet.
    How long have they been making these PCs ? And they just can’t quite ever get it right… Maybe the hackers work for the antivirus company’s
    Like Norton, etc.
    why when your PCs take a dump the computer really can’t quite figure out what is really wrong with itself.. ?
    Your car can !!!! Maybe when we start paying $25000. For a PC it could actually tell you what is wrong with it Self. .? Oops. Gotta go ” Windows has not recovered from an unexpected shutdown.
    A problem? Has caused Windows to stop working correctly.
    Windows will notify me if a solution is Available. BS

    • Sandip

      It’s the money that talks at the end. Buy expensive hardware and u don’t have to worry.

  • TK

    This website’s font makes the type almost undreadable.

  • omar elshal

    Great article, i think the problem in my lap is overheating..any way to know how to make sure of that ?

    • Charles

      My wife’s PC w/ win 7 takes 5 – 6 tries before it boots completely. Even worse if off over 1 hour. We won’t talk about power outages. It stays on 24/7. Since she was to cheap to buy a computer instead of a toy I refuse to touch/repair it. But I am getting tired of bitching and moaning when acting up. Also complains about latency when playing WOW.

    • Devin Hepburn

      use CPUZ or Speccy, and search up your CPU (like the Pentium P6200). look at the temps in speccy and compare it to the Tcase, if the temps ever reach or go over the tcase temps, than that means that it is an overheating.

      How you can fix it (each step should fix the problem, if step 1 does not work, move to the next step):
      1: Make sure your not blocking any vent’s.
      2: Turn on your computer and see if the temps are down
      3: if the above does not work, Take apart your computer until you reach the CPU cooling fan, than take the fan off and clean it.
      4: Put it back together and see if the temps go down
      5: if the above does not work, buy some arctic silver, take apart your computer until you get to the cpu fan, take out the CPU fan, and on the CPU, apply a small amount of arctic silver.
      6: Put your computer back together, and see if it the temps are down.
      7: (Desktop Only) buy a watercooler (like this one: http://www.newegg.ca/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835103099)
      8: Put your computer back together, the temps should probably be down.

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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.
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