How to Know If Your Computer Crashed

By Nicole Canfora

It happens to everyone at one time or another--you're sitting in front of your computer, surfing websites or typing away on a word processing program when suddenly everything grinds to a halt. The mouse doesn't work, your application freezes or the program stalls. Knowing if your computer crashed is key to troubleshooting the problem and eventually fixing it. Here are some helpful tips for those who want to be able to identify the most common signs of a crashed console.

Step 1

Check for the "blue screen of death" on your monitor. It can occur upon start-up or in the middle of a process. The most common indication that your computer has crashed due to a major problem is when the monitor turns bright blue and a message on the screen tells you that a "fatal exception has occurred." It's called the "blue screen of death" because of the serious nature of the computer error.

Step 2

Attempt to move the cursor on the screen. The computer has crashed if even though you are using the mouse correctly, the cursor pointer is frozen. It is also possible that the cursor moves a number of seconds after you shake around the mouse, but it stutters or drags very slowly. In this case, you cannot click on any links or applications.

Step 3

Determine if a program suddenly stops working or quits out. In this case, there's no response when you click on a program screen or any of its associated buttons or tools. When it no longer responds to your commands, a computer crash has occurred. In some cases, the application will close on its own and a message box appears, telling you that an error has caused it to shut down.

Step 4

See if there is enough memory. Computers with a low amount of RAM or a small-capacity hard drive do not have sufficient memory to complete the necessary processes, which run your programs and applications. When there's minimal RAM left, a message pops up that says "insufficient memory or disk space" and the offending program crashes and shuts down.

Step 5

Look for an "imminent hard drive failure" pop-up message upon start-up. A problem with your computer's hardware will stop your computer from booting up correctly from the very beginning, which is one of the more maddening situations you encounter when your computer crashes. This happens when your operating system is no longer able to run your computer programs due to bugs, damaged or missing files or glitches.

Step 6

Try using the Alt-Control-Delete command, which accesses the list of programs and processes currently running on your computer, to exit the programs and processes. If no matter how many times you use the command and attempt to end a non-responding application it's to no avail, a crash is indicated.