Windows freezes or stops responding frequently

Frozen computer hard driveTip: This document contains recommendations on what to do if the computer frequently freezes or completely halts. An easy way to determine if your computer is in this situation is by pressing the Num Lock button on the keyboard and watching the Num Lock led to see if it turns off and on.

If you can get the light to turn off an on, press CTRL + ALT + DEL and End Task the frozen program. Otherwise follow the below steps.

Software related issue

A computer locking up or freezing is often is caused by a software related issue. If you're encountering lockups when the computer is opening a particular program, make sure you have all the latest updates for that program. You can find the latest updates for your software through the software developer or publisher.

Too many programs open

Each program or Window you open on your computer takes some of the computers resources in order to keep it running. If you have too many programs open at one time, your computer may be low on resources and it is causing your computer to freeze. Try only running one program at a time to make sure your freezing is not being caused by too much being open.

Driver related issue

A computer lock up can also be caused by drivers. For example, if there is an issue that exists with your video drivers a computer could lock up while playing a game or displaying any other video.

First make sure no errors exist in the Windows Device Manager. This can be done by opening the Device Manager and verifying that no "Other Devices" are listed and no device has any exclamation mark or red X.

Next, make sure you have the latest drivers for all major devices in your computer (video, sound, modem, and network). A listing of driver related pages as well as driver related help can be found on our drivers page.

Operating system related issue

Make sure your operating system has all of the latest updates installed on it.

Heat related issue

If the computer processor is getting too hot it can cause the computer to freeze. If you have heard any abnormal noises coming from your computer recently such as a high squealing, this could indicate a fan may be failing in your computer.

You can first start by verifying the fan on the power supply is working by examining the back of the computer and seeing if the fan is moving and moving smoothly. For all other fans in the computer you need to either open the computer and make sure the fan are working (processor fan and case fan) or if the computer monitors the RPM of the fans, enter CMOS setup and make sure the BIOS does not report any errors.

Users may also be able to determine how hot their computer is by onboard thermal sensors. If your computer comes equipped with these sensors, make sure your CPU is not running too hot.

Hardware issue

Caution: Some of the steps below require you open your computer. While in the computer, be cautious of ESD.

In addition to software, hardware can also cause a computer to lock. If you have recently added any new hardware into the computer, temporarily remove it to make sure it is not the cause of your issue.

Before attempting to remove any hardware, make sure the computer has no conflicts in Device Manager.

If you have not recently installed any new hardware into the computer, the next best solution to determining if this is a hardware issue would be remove any hardware on the computer that is not needed. For example, remove your modem, network card, sound card, and any other expansion cards that are not needed for the computer to operate. Run the computer without these cards to see if they are the cause of your issue.

Serious issue with Windows

If you have tried all the above recommendations and the computer continues to frequently lock up, its possible that Windows may be seriously corrupt. Try running through the basic troubleshooting steps for your version of Windows on our basic troubleshooting page. If these additional steps do not resolve your issue, we suggest you backup all information and erase and reinstall Windows.

Hardware failure

If after reinstalling your operating system, or during the installation of your operating system, your computer turns off abnormally, it is very likely that other hardware is failing in the computer. Often this is RAM, CPU, Motherboard, or Power Supply (in that order).

If you have extra available parts or have a friend or co-worker with a similar configuration that is willing to allow you to test their hardware in your computer, try swapping these parts to determine if they are at fault. Otherwise, you need to have the computer serviced.

Additional information