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What should I do when a computer freezes or locks up?

This blog post contains recommendations on what to do if the computer freezes or deadlocks. If your computer has stopped responding, follow the steps below to attempt to get the computer to unfreeze.

Give the computer some time

Wait. Give the computer a few minutes to process. Sometimes a computer may appear to be frozen, but it’s only slow or busy processing a complex task.

Is the computer deadlocked?

See if the computer responds by pressing the Caps Lock key on the keyboard and watching the Caps Lock LED (light) to see if it turns on and off. If the computer can turn on and off Caps Lock, continue to the next step. If nothing happens, the computer is deadlocked, and you must reboot the computer.

End Task the not responding program

See if the computer responds by pressing the Caps Lock key on the keyboard and watching the Caps Lock LED (light) to see if it turns on and off. If the computer can turn on and off Caps Lock, continue to the next step. If nothing happens, the computer is deadlocked, and you must reboot the computer.

If the Task Manager opens, but the mouse is still not working, it may be a problem with mouse’s hardware.

Reboot a frozen computer

If none of the above steps helped, you must reboot the computer. To reboot a frozen computer, press and hold down the power button until the computer turns off. Once the computer is off, wait a few seconds, then turn the computer back on and let it start as normal.

What happens to any work that has not been saved?

Any work that has not been saved is lost when a computer has to be reboot because it is frozen. In some situations, some programs may auto save your work every few minutes. If the program you are using performs this action, you can recover the work up to the last auto saved state.

Resolve hardware or device driver issue

If you tried all steps above and the computer still freezes, there may be defective hardware or a device driver that is not working correctly. A defective hard drive, stick of RAM, video card, or another piece of hardware can cause a computer to freeze. A device driver can also cause a computer to freeze if it is out of date, conflicting with another driver, or not working properly.

If you determine that a defective piece of hardware is causing the freezes, you should replace the hardware right away to prevent further damage to the computer. If a device driver is at fault, download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website and install it before the computer freezes. Or use another computer to download the driver and try installing the driver on your computer.

If you cannot install the latest driver before the computer freezes, another option is to start the computer in Safe Mode. Once in Safe Mode, you can access Device Manager and uninstall the hardware device corresponding to the device driver that is not working correctly. Then, restart the computer and load into Windows normally. Windows should detect the hardware that you uninstalled and try to reinstall the device driver. This process may be enough to fix the issue, and stop further freezes from occurring. You can also try installing the latest driver at this point, to make sure your computer is up-to-date for that device driver.

You can also try accessing the computer BIOS and disable any hardware that is not working properly, to see if that stops the freezes from occurring. However, you should still replace that hardware, as you may not be able to use your computer fully if the hardware remains disabled.

Take PC to repair shop

If the options above do not work, we recommend taking your computer to PC Expert Services in Irvine and allow us professionally to diagnose and fix the problem.

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