As Encountering a frozen computer is not uncommon. Be it your work laptop/desktop or your home PC, no machine is immune to the occasional ‘not responding’ error or the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). You might not even be running a resource-heavy application and end up looking at a frozen screen out of the blue (no pun intended).
So, what’s behind these mysterious and annoying freezes? There can be a multitude of reasons that can result in a frozen computer, both software and hardware-related. Knowing the underlying cause behind a frozen computer is the first step in resolving it. Let’s unpack all the possible reasons that can potentially render your computer unusable and see what you can do to address each of them.
1. High CPU Usage
Your computer can handle only so many programs running at the same time. In addition to your internet browser, heavy games, and other applications, there are a bunch of background processes that are responsible for keeping your system running as desired.
Sometimes, opening too many programs at once ends up using all of your available CPU resources and your computer slows down to a crawl or becomes completely unresponsive.
Short of manually rebooting your system, you can try opening up the Task Manager with Ctrl+Alt+Del and closing the applications having the most CPU usage in the list.
2. Low Disk Space
Over time, your hard disk can get filled up, causing your OS to slow down as a result. It’s recommended to keep at least 10% of your boot drive (C: drive in most systems) free, at the bare minimum.
Installing unnecessary programs and not clearing up temporary files for sustained periods of time can quickly fill up your disk space. Make sure you’re keeping your OS drive reasonably uncluttered and your other drives have only the programs you really need.
3. Low System Memory (RAM)
Your computer could simply not have enough RAM to go around. Every application running on your system requires some amount of memory to run smoothly. When your system runs out of RAM. however, you can end up with a frozen computer.
One way to ensure you have enough free RAM, at least after a fresh boot, is to remove unwanted programs from the Startup list in the Task Manager. This way your computer will only load a limited, necessary number of programs into the RAM on startup.
Another way is to simply install enough memory on your computer. These days, 16 GB RAM is fast becoming a minimum, owing to games and software becoming more and more demanding.
4. Computer Viruses
Computer viruses have evolved both in complexity and the modes of transmission over the past two decades. Today, you are likely to get your system infected with malware or ransomware simply by browsing a suspicious website or opening a legitimate-looking email containing a nifty packet of the latest virus doing the rounds.
Viruses can easily overload your system resources and cause your machine to freeze. Some viruses are even designed to deliberately freeze or shut down your computer randomly.
It’s best to have a good antivirus program installed on your computer at all times and run regular scans to weed out any lurking threats. These days even the default security programs on Windows and macOS are quite capable of keeping your computer virus-free.
Overheating is one of the most common causes of computer freezes. If your processor or graphic card is under severe stress from running resource-intensive applications for prolonged durations, their temperatures can rise beyond the safe operating limit.
This can instantly cease your computer’s operations as the system encounters thermal throttling and shuts everything down to prevent hardware damage. Overheating can also occur if your laptop or desktop has a lot of dust deposits and isn’t able to cool efficiently.
You should ideally keep your computer clean from dust and grime and use it in a cool environment. When running demanding games and programs, try to close all other background programs and use moderate performance settings in your game.
6. Driver Errors
Drivers are system files that make sure your operating system is able to communicate with your hardware devices. If your drivers are not up to date or are corrupted or conflicting with one another, you can end up with a frozen computer.
You should almost always keep your device drivers updated, barring cases when a new driver has been known to be unstable. In those cases, it’s better to wait for a fix to be released from your hardware manufacturer.
7. Faulty BIOS Settings
Your BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) settings control the early stages of your computer’s startup. It’s responsible for determining the peripherals available and loading the OS onto the system memory. It also helps the data flow between the OS and the peripherals so you’re comfortably set up when you reach your desktop.
Manually modifying your BIOS settings can cause unexplained BSODs or random system freezing. If you’ve recently changed any BIOS settings and are encountering system errors, it’s best to reset the BIOS from the boot menu.
8. Corrupted System Files
Sometimes, your operating system ends up with missing or corrupted files due to faulty or malicious software. These crucial files encountering issues can often lead to a frozen computer.
To perform a quick check for corrupted or missing system files, you can run the ‘sfc /scannow’ command from the command prompt. Your computer will scan for and try to fix any corrupted files.
9. Faulty Hardware
Lastly, your peripherals or other system components like RAM, hard disk, or power supply could be causing random system freezing and crashing. Over time, these components and devices can develop faults that, if not addressed, could keep causing system failure.
For checking your RAM sticks, you can run the ‘mdsched.exe’ program from the ‘Run’ dialog box. As for your hard disk, run the ‘Chkdsk’ command from the command prompt. For diagnosing other hardware like your graphic card or power supply, you might need additional equipment or help from an expert.
Dealing with annoying computer freezes can go from mildly annoying to downright infuriating pretty fast. Following the above solutions and troubleshooting steps can help you address the majority of reasons behind your computer freezing. For more detailed solutions, you can refer to our Windows and Mac guides on how to fix system slowdowns.
In case you’re not able to fix your computer yourself, feel free to contact us and we’ll do all the heavy lifting for you.