It’s no fun when your computer stops responding to your inputs . 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 and what you can do to troubleshoot these crashes . 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 If you use some outdated hardware , replace it with a modern device and see if that helps.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 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 Problems can ensue if your installed drivers are outdated, incompatible with your version of Windows, or for the wrong device.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if you suspect a driver problem, we’ve covered how to stop Windows 10 from controlling your drivers and replace outdated drivers .
Whenever you manually update your drivers, make sure you’re using the right 32-bit or 64-bit driver, depending on your system .
3. A Messed Up Windows Registry
The Registry is a database 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 , 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 . It shouldn’t ever get to that point unless you’ve made a mistake while editing it , 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 .
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.
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 , 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 one by one and see if that solves the problem. You should also remove any plugins you don’t use, especially unsafe ones .
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 might be the issue.
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 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!