Why Does a PC Freeze?

pc-freezeAlmost every PC user I know had this problem at some stage: a computer that freezes. I bet you’ve seen it too: you are surfing the Web, writing a document or playing a game, when suddenly everything stops and you can’t do anything with your PC. It doesn’t respond to input from your mouse or keyboard. The screen shows the last working picture and it doesn’t move. If you were writing a document, it’s quite possible that you’ve lost everything since the last save operation (unless you try the autorecovery option).

There are many reasons why this is happening. The most common reason is some kind of hardware fault. If you added some component recently and you know which one, try to remove it and see if that helps.

If you haven’t installed any new part(s), then check out some of the following possible solutions before you call the PC technician:

  • RAM: Maybe there is not enough RAM (physical memory) to handle all processes, in which case you can simply add more, or the memory module that is installed is corrupt. You should try to find a spare one for testing. You could also download a memory testing software and copy it to a CD, floppy disk or USB drive. With this software, you can test your RAM and confirm that it’s working fine. If not, you will have to buy a new RAM. See your motherboard manual to find out what type of memory you need or try to read it off the RAM you have already.
  • Power Supply: Perhaps your power supply is faulty or weak and it cannot supply enough power to the motherboard and all other PC components. Test a spare or new one and see if the PC is running any better.
  • Motherboard: A faulty board can cause this problem as well. The only way I know to identify a faulty motherboard is if there are blown, burst or leaked capacitors. Just compare suspicious capacitors to the ones you know are fine (shiny, flat top) and you’ll easily spot them. If you see any faulty capacitors, you’ll have to replace the motherboard. Also, if you see any leaks below the capacitor, the motherboard is history. I’ll explain how to replace a motherboard in a later post.
  • Hard drive: Go to the Web site of your hard drive’s manufacturer and download a hard drive scanning/diagnostic tool. With this tool, you’ll be able to check your hard drive for bad sectors or other hardware faults.
  • Maybe there are too many programs running from Startup and your processor cannot handle it. See this post on how to turn off some of these programs.
  • A virus infection can also be the cause. If there is enough time before the PC freezes, try to scan your hard drive with an antivirus program. If you are unable to do so, try the same thing in Safe Mode (if your antivirus program allows it). To load Safe Mode, restart the system and press and hold F8 until you see the menu with all loading options.
  • Defragment your hard drive. Go to Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools and select Disk Defragmenter. Then select your local drive and slick on Defragment. This operation could take up to a few hours, depending on the size of your hard drive.
  • Format your hard drive and reinstall Windows.

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