Leave a comment

What to do when your computer freezes or locks up

What to do when your computer freezes or locks up
photo courtesy of SHUTTERSTOCK

It happens to everyone at some point. You're doing something on your computer, whether it's an important project, some aimless browsing, or trying to beat your high score on Solitaire, and without warning everything freezes. You wiggle the mouse, click the buttons a few times, tap some keys on your keyboard and get nothing. Your 21st century piece of technology is as useless as a pet rock. What do you do next?

Restart

OK, this step is obvious. However, some people think they have to pull the computer's power plug or flip the switch on the power strip. Instead, simply hold the computer's power button for 5 to 10 seconds and it will restart with less disruption than a complete power loss.

There are a few things that can happen next when your computer comes back on. Let's look at the three most typical ones and what you should do next.

1. Computer starts fine

If the computer starts up fine, immediately back up your important information in case a serious problem is on the way.  Otherwise, you could find yourself scrambling through more complicated ways to get files off a dead computer.

Then use the computer as normal until it freezes again, although it might not. Find out why a restart often makes problems disappear. If the computer does freeze again, then keep reading for more steps to take.

2. Computer asks you how to boot

While restarting, the computer might say there was an error with Windows and ask if you want to start normally or in Safe Mode. The first time, choose to start Windows normally. Then back up your data and keep using the computer to see if it freezes again.

If this is the second time your computer has frozen, choose to boot in "Safe Mode with Networking." Try using the computer like this and see if it freezes again. If it does, then you could be looking at either a software or a hardware problem.

If it doesn't freeze again while in Safe Mode, it's likely a software problem. Keep reading for tips to investigate both.

3. Computer freezes again immediately

If the computer freezes again immediately after it booting, whether in normal mode or Safe Mode, then you could have a serious software or hardware problem. However, it's most likely a hardware problem.

Next page: Now we're going to look at some ways to narrow down and fix the cause.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Q&A with Kim: Check your bank statement, hidden Windows settings, free alternative to MS Office and more
Previous Columns

Q&A with Kim: Check your bank statement, hidden Windows settings, free alternative to MS Office and more

5 Amazon Prime perks you really don't want to miss
Next Columns

5 Amazon Prime perks you really don't want to miss

View Comments ()