How to Fix Computer Freezes

By David Nield

A computer freeze, where the mouse and keyboard become unresponsive and applications hang, can have many different possible causes. To fix a computer which freezes on a regular basis you must first attempt to identify the source of the problem, and target your troubleshooting efforts accordingly. An issue with a specific hardware device, a particular software application, a lack of system resources, or a problem with the Windows registry settings file can all potentially cause computer freezes.

Fixing Hardware or Software Issues

If the freeze happens every time a certain hardware device is plugged in or switched on, the device itself might be to blame. Check the manufacturer's website for updated drivers for the device, and download and install them to erase any bugs that might exist in your version. Similarly, if the freeze only happens when using one particular application, that program might also be the root cause. Check the developer's website for updates. If the problem persists, uninstall and reinstall the program. This process replaces any software files or settings that may have been damaged or deleted.

Fixing Issues with System Resources

Overwhelming a PC's processor or memory by requests can also lead to the computer freezing up. If the issue occurs when large files or complex applications are being handled, shut down any running application or background utilities you don't need for the project you're working on. This frees up CPU time and RAM space. Within individual programs, avoid opening up multiple files or websites at the same time. If the problem persists and if opening multiple large files simultaneously can't be avoided, consider a hardware upgrade.

Fixing General Windows Issues

General Windows issues are more likely to be to blame if the computer freezes at seemingly random times in a variety of applications. A key Windows file may have been erased or corrupted, or there may be a problem with the Windows registry settings file. Run the System Restore utility from the System Tools section of the Accessories folder on the Start menu to roll back WIndows to a previous version of the registry. This will fix prior registry issues without affecting personal files and settings.

Fixing virus or spyware infections

A virus or spyware infection on your computer might also be the source of freeze issues. If you don't have an antivirus or antispyware tools on your system, purchase and install one; otherwise, check the program's website to make sure that you're running the latest version. Run a full system scan to check for problems and remove any potential threats, and be sure to repeat this process regularly to prevent future issues.

Fixing internal hardware issues

A damaged internal hardware component, such as the hard drive or memory modules, might also be causing freezing issues, in which case that component will need replacement. A number of system diagnostics tools are available which can check for problems, including Hard Drive Inspector and PC Pitstop.

Tips & Warnings

  • Call a computer professional if you cannot get the computer to start again after trying these steps.