7 Warning Signs Your Computer Is Going to Crash (And What to Do)

Dan Price Updated 20-05-2019

Computer crashes have a habit of occurring at the most inopportune moments. You can guarantee that everything is going to fail seconds before you were due to hit the Save button.


So, wouldn’t it be great if you could tell when a crash was about to happen? It turns out that you can—computer crashes are nowhere near as random as they might appear.

Here are several warning signs that your computer is about to crash, along with some tips on what to do if you come across them.

1. A Noisy Hard Drive

Although most modern high-end laptops now use solid state drives (SSDs), traditional hard drives are still commonplace in budget machines and some desktop computers.

Traditional hard drives are mechanical—they have moving parts. And just like anything else with moving parts, the pieces can wear out, break down, and stop working. Research from backup company Backblaze found the average life expectancy of a hard drive was three to five years.


As a regular user, there’s not much you can do to stop a hard drive from failing. Instead, it’s about managing the risk. Be alert to any signs that your hard drive is struggling 5 Signs Your Hard Drive Is Failing (And What to Do) Since a majority of people today own laptops and external hard drives, which get dragged around quite a bit, a realistic hard drive lifetime is probably around 3 - 5 years. This is an extremely... Read More and make sure you always create regular backups of your data What's the Best Way to Back Up Data on a Computer? Worried about losing your vital personal data? Data backups are essential. But what's the best way to back up your data? Read More .


2. Regular Boot Errors

Although the list of possible reasons for boot errors is almost endless, you can be sure that they all point to an increased risk of a laptop crash.

If you see messages like “Boot device not found,” there’s a high chance that your copy of Windows has gotten corrupted. In turn, that means the chances of a crash have grown exponentially. It’s especially true if the boot errors only appear some of the time.


We’ve written a guide about how to fix a litany of boot errors on Windows 10 A Quick Tip for Repairing Boot Errors in Windows 10 Having an MBR issue on your PC that's preventing it from booting? Here are the steps for fixing boot issues in Windows 10. Read More . Work through the solutions and see if any can help. In the worst case, you may need to reinstall your operating system.

3. Poor Software Performance

A computer crash isn’t always hardware-based; software can also cause problems.


One of the most simple-yet-overlooked reasons for software issues is your computer’s specifications. If an app needs more processing power than your computer can provide, your machine will slow to a crawl and often stop working altogether.


Be sensible; don’t try to edit Photoshop images on a six-year-old laptop with 2GB of RAM and don’t simultaneously run more programs than your computer can handle.

If the problem persists, try cleaning up the operating system using the built-in tools The Best Way to Clean Windows 10: A Step-by-Step Guide Don't know how to clean Windows 10? Here's a clear step-by-step guide to getting your PC nice and tidy again. Read More . In the worst case, you might need to reinstall Windows.

4. Poor Hardware Performance

Sluggish performance is a strong indicator of an imminent computer crash. However, if your bid to locate the problem in your machine’s software has failed, there’s a high likelihood that hardware is to blame.



There are hundreds of components in a computer, many of which could be to blame. Rather than blindly attacking the problem, use some free benchmarking tools The 10 Best Free Benchmark Programs for Windows Use these fantastic and free benchmark software for Windows to troubleshoot your system and keep it updated. Read More to try and discover which part of your equipment is faulty.

5. A Loud System Fan

If your computer’s fan is louder than normal, it indicates overheating inside your machine—your fan is working overtime in an attempt to get on top of the problem.

If your laptop or desktop’s internal components are too warm, the situation can eventually lead to a crash and even hardware damage.


You can use a PC monitoring tool like SpeedFan to investigate the problem and see what temperature your CPU and GPU are reporting.


If everything is too hot, open up your desktop and clean out its fans with a can of compressed air. Laptop owners have fewer options, but you can still try to clean out the exhaust fan or buy a cooling pad.

We like the Havit HV-F2056 for 17-inch laptops.

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6. Hardware Conflicts

What happens when two pieces of software try to use the same hardware component at the same? Well, you’ve got yourself a hardware conflict.

Hardware conflicts are not black and white. A problem might manifest itself in one app while being perfectly fine in another.

When a hardware conflict occurs, your computer will become unstable. At best, the app you’re using might repeatedly crash. At worst, you’ll suffer from a never-ending stream of “blue screens of death.”


The easiest way to see whether you have a hardware conflict is to look in the Windows Device Manager app. Any problems are highlighted with a yellow exclamation mark.

If you have a problem, reinstalling the hardware’s drivers might help. If not, try disabling one of the problematic devices in Device Manager.

7. File and Program Corruption

A classic sign of a slow-growing problem is random file and program corruption errors. Files that always worked suddenly don’t open, or only work on occasion. They may or may not be accompanied by an error message.

Lots of things could be causing the error—malware, failing hard drives, failing internal components, and corrupted files could all be to blame.


As a first step, run your anti-virus. Malware is often the root cause of a laptop crash. It’s also worth checking your hard drive for errors and ensure that you’re trying to open the file in the correct app.

How to Monitor Your Computer’s Reliability

We understand—that’s a lot of things you need to be aware of. Most people have neither the time nor the memory to stay abreast of it all.

Luckily, Windows offers a couple of tools that can help.

  • Reliability Monitor: The Reliability Monitor gives your computer a score of 1-10 on a Stability Index. It also lists critical events, warnings, and other information, each of which has a link to let you see more technical information. Any serious threats to your machine’s stability should show up here.
  • Disk Error Checking: Windows lets you scan your drives for errors. To perform a scan, right-click on the drive, and go to Properties > Tools > Error Checking > Check.

If you would like to learn more, check out our troubleshooting guide for Windows crashes Why Did Windows Crash? A Troubleshooting Guide When Windows crashes, keep calm and reboot. In most cases, it's a singular event. If your computer crashes again, however, consult this step-by-step troubleshooting guide. Bookmark for future use. Read More .

Related topics: Blue Screen of Death, Boot Errors, Computer Maintenance, Troubleshooting, Windows Tips.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Andu McNannamous
    September 26, 2019 at 5:36 am

    #1 You are using a PC

    Use some variant of Linux/BSD

  2. infmom
    May 21, 2019 at 8:33 pm

    About a month ago my computer (built myself) just completely died. Would not start up. I conferred with the motherboard manufacturer (ASUS) and they confirmed that the motherboard was toast.

    This happened with absolutely no warning.

    So I built a new computer, which is working fine, but I would sure rather have done it on my OWN schedule.

  3. Have A Name
    July 31, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    I have all
    Toshiba Skullcandy

  4. maryjane
    May 8, 2017 at 11:29 am

    I was ready to give up on my PC because it was so slow it was killing me, in cases like that I would propose to try Impedio Security. A software made to protect your data from being modified or in any way corrupted. It also makes fullbackups very fast. It's good to read something before giving up on your PC because it drives you insane :D I'm actually not any specialist, but I really wanted to make my computer work, since I have like three years of work on my disk, and thanks to Impedio I managed to have all of my files back :D

  5. Ralph Baker
    May 11, 2016 at 10:05 pm

    I had a problem with Windows 7 that seem to come and go. Some days it worked fine, other days it crashed several times. I tried using the Windows 7 memory-test to check the memory, but every time it said the memory was fine. Finally I down loaded a dos based memory checking tool, something like MEM87. It found that half of my memory was bad. The program which ran off a CD, would simply install some information in hex-a-decimal format and then later check to see if that information was still stored where the program put it. Two of the four memory sticks failed this test. I think the reason windows did not catch this problem is because it was using defective memory to run on while looking for defective memory. Sometimes you have to get on the outside of the operating system to find the problem. That may mean using a simple dos based program of some kind that runs on a CD to find the problem. At least that's been my experience.

  6. Anonymous
    December 4, 2015 at 6:29 am

    Driver Talent helped me solve BSOD. You guys could also have a try while facing the same problems.

    December 19, 2013 at 6:27 am

    My comp crashing. how to i Clean Windows to remove threats

  8. Shafique A
    September 17, 2013 at 4:53 am

    If you’re not careful, you may find you’ve installed more than your computer can handle, and it will perform poorly. Cleaning Windows might help,

  9. Ishayu
    September 16, 2013 at 5:14 pm

    When you do get a crash on Windows it is actually quite helpful to look at the stop error code on the screen. When your PC turns back on, Google it. Almost always people know what happened.

    One such occasion where people did not know was "Microsoft Security Client OOBE" crashing Windows 7 and Windows 8.

    Turns out it's a very nasty left-over from Microsoft Security Essentials.

    Windows has quite a few bugs that can crash your computer even without bad hardware or malware. Try to avoid using Windows as your work environment.

    • Aiden Donaldson
      October 1, 2013 at 8:42 pm

      If thats the case, no Windows 7 or 8 computers would be running. If Microsoft Security Essentials is the problem, then uninstall it. No reason not to use Windows in a work environment.

  10. gregzeng
    September 11, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    I often tell my wife: "It is a machine, designed and made by men. Of curse it will break down. On its own. Even if I don't touch it!"

    Buildings with power surges (random lightning, arc-welding gear, large machines like elevators, etc) can create 'random' power surges that can damage most electronic equipment. If you have power-surge protectors, it is easy to miss the warning light, that the protection device has 'blown' and is no longer working.

    Other equipment breakdowns are very predictable. If high temperatures, dust, pollutants (such as oil, fumes and cigarettes) ... can create early machine breakdowns.

    Chief Information Officer Retired, 1984
    Australian Capital Territory

  11. Blossie
    September 10, 2013 at 7:41 pm

    The line I like is when something fails it tells me to contact the IT department....There is NO IT department, just me the average user.

  12. drneuro
    September 10, 2013 at 3:17 am

    The best sign that your computer is about to fail is this: Gallo will begin selling wine before its time.

  13. Tactless
    September 9, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Hard drives, more reliable over time!? I beg to differ. Maybe some of you just arent old enough, but our hard drives back when we were running Win 3.1 never failed, ....never. I still have a few from that era, still working. Only 10-20GB lol, but still working. It was deep into Windows XP and probably my 30th hard drive before a Western Digital finally failed on me. Now to keep your info safe, you need a total of three hard drives per one system os. The system HD, the Backup HD, and the Backups Backup HD. A hard drive costs too much to need to buy three of them to keep safe.

  14. Bruce E
    September 8, 2013 at 12:46 am

    Video artifacts can also be a result of an issue with the video driver itself. This type of issue was being reported quite frequently with NVIDIA drivers a few months ago. Users who attempt to use the "latest and greatest" drivers at all times are far more susceptible to these types of issues.

  15. George Monroe
    September 7, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    What about Linux, BSD and Mach.