An unresponsive computer? Getting Your Laptop to Stop Freezing

Your PC may experience a wide variety of issues. Your laptop may struggle to charge, stop displaying images on the screen, or just refuse to turn on. However, it seems as though your computer only freezes while you’re performing the most crucial things, doesn’t it? Here’s how to fix the issue and stop it from recurring in the future if your computer has slowed to a crawl or stopped responding altogether.

Wait a moment for it to catch up. Sometimes, when working on a task that requires a lot of CPU power, things will hang for a while, giving the impression that your laptop is frozen even when it isn’t. Give your computer a few minutes to catch up and finish its work if it appears to have entirely locked up.

You’d be shocked at how frequently this actually works, especially when it happens at random (and not a chronic problem). Sometimes a single action can consume all of the computer’s RAM, and it takes the machine a moment to finish these activities. After a few minutes, as long as this isn’t a regular occurrence, everything ought to be alright.

2. Inspect your perimeters Surely the PC isn’t frozen, right? Verify that the attached peripherals are in fact operating correctly. It’s possible that something became disconnected or that the batteries died. This will make it appear as though your computer is freezing, but the input isn’t processing properly.

Check the functionality of every device that is attached to your computer, paying particular attention to the trackpad, keyboard, and mouse. If you believe everything else is in order, you might even want to look into the condition of your USB ports.

3. TERMINATE THE VIOLATING PROGRAM It’s time to break out old faithful if Windows doesn’t recover (or if it recovers but then freezes again): Alt Ctrl Delete. To view a list of currently running programs, press these keys together on your keyboard and select the Task Manager option from the following screen. For a comparable menu, press Command Option Escape on a Mac.

Select the non-responding individuals and click the End Task button. That ought to be sufficient if you’re working with a singular incidence. As soon as you’ve finished using the program, your OS should regain focus so you may resume working with it.

However, if your computer consistently freezes while that program is active, you might need to uninstall it and look for a replacement. You could even need to upgrade your hardware if the program is using up all of your resources due to its resource-intensive nature.

4. VERIFY THE TASK MANAGER IN YOUR BROWSER On sometimes, even though your machine is operating normally, your browser may become stuck on a particular page. This feels like your entire computer is freezing, but it can simply be the page you’re on because so much of what we do on computers is done in the browser. When that happens, Windows Task Manager might indicate that your browser isn’t responding, but you have to look further to find out why.

Shift Esc in Chrome and Edge will display the Task Manager for the browser. You may access Firefox’s task manager by selecting More Tools from the menu. This will display the several processes that are active within your browser, maybe revealing which website or extension is frozen or consuming a significant amount of CPU and memory.

Try deactivating any browser extensions to see if it resolves the issue as you might possibly have a common clash with one (for instance, I once had problems with the Grammarly extension freezing Google Docs often). The developers should release a patch, as Grammarly appears to have done.

5. Restart and try once more Your computer is totally locked up if you are unable to even open the Task Manager. A hard reset is the only method to free it from this state. Press the power button one more to restart your computer from scratch after pressing and holding the power button until it turns off.

Depending on the application and how it manages unsaved documents, you might be able to recover anything significant you were working on when the freeze occurred. Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, for instance, automatically save backups as you work, and you can frequently recover them when you open the software again. To recover an unsaved document, go to File > Info > Manage Document(s).

Investigate the crashed application to see if it has a feature that might work; it won’t always work, but it’s worth a try. If not, you might be unfortunate forced to repeat some of that effort.

6. CONFIRM THE RELIABILITY MODERATOR You’ll need to conduct additional troubleshooting if you’re still unable to identify the reason for your lockups. I advise looking at Windows’ Reliability Monitor in these circumstances; it’s a less well-known error-reporting function hidden in Windows’ settings. Click the View reliability history link that appears after performing a reliability search in the Start menu.

A graph of your PC’s stability over time will be displayed, along with crash records and other problems, updates, and newly installed software. Reliability Monitor will give you the choice to study technical details or search Microsoft’s database for a fix if you can identify an error that was recorded around the same time that your freezing issue started. There may be some problem codes in these details that you can look up to learn more. While Microsoft’s database occasionally functions, it is something to try.

If those don’t help, you might also utilize the graph to see which updates or programs were installed prior to the freeze occurring. Try rolling back the machine to a time before the installation of the new program or update if that appears to be the problem. You can accomplish this by removing a recent update, utilizing a Windows Restore Point, or Time Machine on a Mac.

7. DISCOVER YOUR BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH MORE. You might learn more about the root of your issues if the freezing of your computer eventually results in a crash and the somber Blue Screen of Death. The “Stop Code” and QR codes on the blue screen are good places to start your investigation, but they rarely provide comprehensive information.

Because of this, I also suggest using BlueScreenView (Opens in a new window) , a free program that reads the “dump file” your computer produces when it crashes and shows it in a slightly more streamlined manner. (Download links are a little difficult to discover; they are near the bottom of that page.) Although it’s still somewhat complex, you may scroll horizontally to see which driver or gadget contributed to the accident as well as other codes you can research to attempt and identify the offender.

It would be worthwhile to give the freeze- and crash-diagnosing programs WhatIsHang (Opens in a new window) and AppCrashView (Opens in a new window) from the developers of BlueScreenView a try. Again, System Restore might be useful in this situation as a last resort.

8. RESET ALL RECENT DRIVERS While System Restore ought to be able to resolve a number of problems, I’ve discovered that it occasionally fails to resolve particular anomalies that might be more difficult to identify. My computer, for instance, lately began to freeze frequently after I changed my graphics card. Running Display Driver Uninstaller (Opens in a new window) (DDU) in safe mode was sufficient to resolve the issue, which turned out to be caused by some conflicting remnants of the previous driver.

If you recently installed any new hardware, try removing its drivers—or removing the drivers from the outdated hardware you just swapped out—to see if it resolves the issue. Particularly for graphics and audio drivers that are conflicting with one another, DDU is a fantastic tool.

10. CONDUCT A MALWARE SCAN It never hurts to run a malware scan to discover if something malicious is the source of your issues, as it does with any computer gremlins—especially if you haven’t done it in a while. Take advantage of a free scanner like Malwarebytes to examine your hard drive and see if anything unusual appears. Check out our instructions to cleaning your computer of malware if you run into problems.


10. CONSIDER CHECKING YOUR HARD DRIVE Check your hard drive’s health as well while you’re conducting scans because a failing hard drive could result in hang-ups and other related problems. While you may accomplish this by typing wmic diskdrive get model,status in the Command Prompt, I advise using CrystalDiskInfo (Opens in a new window) for Windows ($0 with a free trial) or DriveDx (Opens in a new window) for macOS ($20 with a free trial) for more in-depth health information.

It might be the root of your issues if that tool indicates that your drive is anything other than “OK.” If you use a Windows computer, you should replace the drive right away. Modern MacBooks have a drive that cannot be replaced, therefore you must have it repaired.

11. BE AWARE OF OVERHEATING Ironically, excessive heat can frequently cause your computer to freeze. If this issue keeps coming up, it’s possible that your cooling system is to blame. Install a temperature monitor, such as Core Temp (Opens in a new window) , set its preferences to display temperature in the Notification Area, and then drag that icon from the pop-up tray to the taskbar so it is always visible. Fanny (Opens in a new window) allows Mac users to accomplish a similar task.

You can quickly scan the application the next time your computer freezes to check whether heat might be the issue. It is nearly certainly overheated if the temperature is 90 degrees Celsius or higher (or 194 degrees Fahrenheit).

The computer may be overheated, so keep an eye out for a loud fan. Use an high-pressure duster (Opens in a new window) to remove any dust from the PC. Check to see if your fans are truly spinning; if not, you may have a failing bearing and need replace the fan.

TEST YOUR RAM 12. Locked-up computers can also be caused by bad memory, therefore it’s time to perform some checks if you think you could have a bad RAM stick. Look under “Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool” in the Start menu. Your computer will restart once it tests your RAM and let you know if there are any problems. Another option is to use the open-source boot disk BlueScreenView (Opens in a new window) 0, which conducts more in-depth testing.

If all of the tests pass, the issue might just be a RAM shortage. The next time you run into issues, simply press Ctrl Shift Esc to launch the Task Manager and select the Performance tab. It could be time to upgrade if your memory is at its maximum capacity.

To find out what RAM you need to buy and how to replace it, you should also check up the model of your computer. You can quickly find out how much RAM you have by doing this. (If your RAM is soldered onto the motherboard, as is the case with Apple’s laptops and many new thin and light laptops, you might need to purchase an entirely new laptop.)

13. CONTACT THE PROFESSIONALS IF ALL ELSE FAILS. If nothing else seems to work to fix the issue, you might have a hardware issue that is more difficult to resolve on your own. If your laptop is still covered under warranty, speak with the maker about repairs. If your motherboard (or some other component) is in fact defective, they’ll probably replace it at no cost to you.

Find a reputable repair facility in your area if your warranty has long since expired, and ask them if they can do a more thorough diagnosis. If the expense of the repair is prohibitive, you might have to replace the laptop totally. Although it’s disappointing, at least you’ll be able to resume working.

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