7 Most Common Reasons Windows Gets Unresponsive

Ben Stegner 23-01-2017

It’s no fun when your computer stops responding to your inputs How to Force Close a Program Without Task Manager Wondering how to force close a frozen program on Windows? Here are several ways to force-close apps without the Task Manager. Read More . Even if you don’t lose work because of it, hanging programs or a total system freeze can slow your productivity to a crawl.


We’ve previously looked at why Windows crashes Why Does Windows Crash? The 9 Most Common Reasons Why does Windows keep crashing? Here are the most common reasons for Windows crashes and severals tips for fixing them. Read More and what you can do to troubleshoot these 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 . However, problems don’t always manifest through a blue screen or random shutdowns. Let’s examine the common reasons that Windows will freeze up momentarily.

1. Hardware Incompatibility

If a piece of hardware isn’t marked as compatible with your version of Windows, it could cause stability issues. Typically, hardware problems result in blue screens when Windows shuts down to avoid damage. When you see system freezes, ask yourself if you’ve recently connected some new hardware to your PC.

Any printer, mouse, keyboard, USB drive, or other external device could be the source of the problem. If you use some outdated hardware 8 Ways You Can Still Use Your Old Windows XP Hardware Microsoft is killing support for Windows XP this April. If you have a computer that runs Windows XP, you should seriously consider upgrading the operating system, or finding new uses for the computer's hardware. Read More , replace it with a modern device and see if that helps.

With the aid of compatibility modes and some tweaks, people can get hardware working with newer versions of Windows long after it’s been retired. For example, you could try using a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More emulating an older version of Windows if you can’t live without a particular device.

2. Driver Issues

Even if your hardware isn’t causing a problem, its driver could be. A driver is a small piece of software that lets Windows interface with hardware correctly. For basic devices like a mouse or keyboard, a generic Microsoft driver works just fine. Using all the specific features of a device requires its own driver, though. Problems can ensue if your installed drivers are outdated, incompatible with your version of Windows, or for the wrong device.


The general rule with drivers is that you shouldn’t touch them if everything works. Third-party driver update utilities (those your computer manufacturer provides are fine) are shady and could screw up more than they fix. However, if you suspect a driver problem, we’ve covered how to stop Windows 10 from controlling your drivers Take Back Control Over Driver Updates in Windows 10 A bad Windows driver can ruin your day. In Windows 10, Windows Update automatically updates hardware drivers. If you suffer the consequences, let us show you how to roll back your driver and block future... Read More and replace outdated drivers How to Find & Replace Outdated Windows Drivers Your drivers might be outdated and need updating, but how are you to know? Here's what you need to know and how to go about it. Read More .

Whenever you manually update your drivers, make sure you’re using the right 32-bit or 64-bit driver, depending on your system What's the Difference Between 32-Bit and 64-Bit Windows? What's the difference between 32-bit and 64-bit Windows? Here's a simple explanation and how to check which version you have. Read More .

3. A Messed Up Windows Registry

The Registry is a database What Is the Windows Registry and How Do I Edit It? If you need to edit the Windows registry, making a few quick changes is easy. Let's learn how to work with the registry. Read More where Windows holds all sorts of detailed information about your system and its configuration. Whenever you install or remove sofware, edit a setting, or make changes yourself 5 Windows 10 Registry Tweaks to Improve & Unlock Features The registry editor is the only way to enable some of Windows 10's hidden features. Here we'll show you easy tweaks like enabling the dark theme or hiding folders. Read More , Windows takes a note in its Registry.

Most of the time, the Registry is just fine without your intervention. Do not use Registry cleaners, as they are useless at best and dangerous at worst. Even though trusted tools like CCleaner include a Registry cleaner, “cleaning” thousands of errors won’t provide any performance benefits.


If your registry is so screwed up that it’s causing crashes, you’ll probably need to reinstall Windows How to Reset the Windows Registry to Default If you've messed up the Windows Registry, hopefully you have a backup. If not, you have a short list of options to fix the problem. Read More . It shouldn’t ever get to that point unless you’ve made a mistake while editing it How Not to Accidentally Mess Up the Windows Registry Working with the Windows registry? Take note of these tips, and you'll be much less likely to do lasting damage to your PC. Read More , use a cleaner, or get hit by malware.

4. Malware of Any Kind

Malware, the catch-all term for viruses, spyware, worms, and other nasties, can wreak havoc on your system. Whether it’s injecting ads into your browser causing it to freeze or rootkits inhibiting your system in plain sight, malware can take over your system and degrade performance.

If you’re suffering from malware, read over the steps to take when you’re hit by malware and what you should do when you’re done cleaning the infection. For everyone else, know that there are easy ways to avoid viruses, including running some powerful free security software The Best Antivirus Software for Windows 10 Want to tighten security on your PC? Here are the best antivirus software options for Windows 10. Read More .

5. Using a Poor Antivirus Program, or Multiple

This problem isn’t as common as it once was, but it’s worth mentioning. You shouldn’t run multiple antivirus programs, as they’ll conflict with each other and potentially cause slowdowns. If you want a second opinion, use an on-demand scanner like Malwarebytes or SUPERAntiSpyware (our review) and scan with that occasionally.


For more security, use a free browser-based antivirus scanner like VirusTotal. These let you scan a file with dozens of different antivirus apps at once, making sure that yours doesn’t miss anything.

7 Most Common Reasons Windows Gets Unresponsive VirusTotal

Aside from this, make sure you use one of the best antivirus suites and not some no-name app, and you shouldn’t have any stability issues in this area.

6. Application Bugs

Unfortunately, poorly-written software is out of your control. Whether it’s an old app that hasn’t been updated in years or a poorly optimized browser extension 5 Shady Google Chrome Extensions You Should Uninstall ASAP Here are some bad Chrome extensions that you should uninstall, plus some tips for avoiding malicious extensions in the future. Read More , you might notice that your problem only occurs when you’re using a certain program.


If you can pin down which app is an issue, check AlternativeTo for a replacement. Should the problem occur in your browser, try disabling extensions How to Clean Up Your Browser Extensions (The Easy Way) If you regularly check out cool extensions, then it is probably time to clean up those add-ons that you no longer want, like, or need. Here's how to do it easily. Read More one by one and see if that solves the problem. You should also remove any plugins you don’t use, especially unsafe ones Think Flash Is the Only Insecure Plugin? Think Again Flash isn't the only browser plugin that presents a risk to your online privacy and security. Here are three more plugins that you probably have installed in your browser, but should uninstall today. Read More .

7. User Tweaks

Once you eliminate all the above scenarios, it’s possible that your stability problem comes from some a tweak you’ve made.

Changes from the Control Panel/Settings shouldn’t interfere with your system, but using third-party tools to customize the nitty-gritty bits of Windows The 8 Best Tools to Tweak and Customize Windows 10 Want to give your PC a unique look? Learn how to customize Windows 10 with these powerful tweak tools that cover your every need. Read More  might be the issue.

Think about the tools you’ve used for Windows 10 privacy 7 Tools to Manage Privacy Settings in Windows Every Windows version has its flaws and user privacy is one that haunts them all. We'll introduce you to seven tools that can help you manage native Windows privacy settings. Read More , tweaking the Taskbar Get More Out Of The Windows Taskbar with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker Could the Windows Taskbar be more useful? You can quickly add features and keep things simple with 7+ Taskbar Tweaker. Customize your Taskbar to your needs - without the fluff. Read More , or similar deep tweaks. Consider reversing those changes if you can’t find any other source of instability.

Rock-Solid Windows

Chances are, that frequent freezing you deal with has its root in one of these seven sources. Most of them are in your control, so all it takes is a bit of troubleshooting to find out where the problem lies. Once you fix the problem, you can get back to using your computer like normal!

If you don’t want to spend time on these fixes, it’s easy to Refresh Windows 10 Should You Refresh, Reset, Restore, or Reinstall Windows? Ever wanted to reset Windows 7 without losing personal data? Between a factory reset and a reinstall, it was tough. Since Windows 8, we have two new options: Refresh and Reset. Which one is right... Read More and reset the operating system to its default state.

Have you ever dealt with occasional freezing in Windows? Let us know if one of these seven aspects was the cause of your problem, or add your story down below in the comments!

Related topics: Antivirus, Computer Maintenance, Drivers, Malware, Troubleshooting, Windows Registry.

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  1. DudeWhoWantsHis5MinsBack
    December 19, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    What a shit article. Did you make money from this? Seriously, this is cookie-cutter and generic as you could get.

  2. sue
    June 18, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    when i leave the computer for a few minutes idling it freezes. the mouse is working and there is power to my laptop. i have to do the ctrl/alt/del to bring task manager and then it works again.

  3. mike wakes
    February 2, 2018 at 9:27 pm

    Used windows 7, for almost 2 years it was slowing down,looked and tried many things and none worked.
    I than downloaded google crome, (didn't like it few years back) and it WAS A MIRACLE.For the last year and
    more, i have NO problems. this old computer is acting brand new. it was so frustrating, google crome saved me. mike w.

  4. ThatTimeDo YouRememberMember
    October 14, 2017 at 5:14 pm

    With regards to apps, I preferred it when they were just programs from the web as they load much faster. I still use some from the web rather than downloading from the Windows Store. Sick of waiting for the app versions to open