How to Unfreeze a Laptop Computer

By Bailey Granger

You're working hard when your computer suddenly comes to a screeching halt. Panic starts to set in as you begin to imagine all the work you might have to redo. Before you pull your hair out there are a few techniques to try to unfreeze your laptop computer.

Step 1

Wait a few minutes for the non-responding program to start responding again. Be patient and give it some time. This is the easiest way to salvage any work that you did not save before the freeze. If, after waiting, the computer does not unfreeze, move to the next step.

Step 2

Press and hold the "Ctrl", "Alt" and "Del" buttons in that order. This may unfreeze the computer, or bring up an option to restart, shut down or open the task manager. Open the task manager and note if a program is listed as "not responding." If there is one, click that program title and click "end task." The computer will end that task and break it out of the freeze. If this does not work, open task manager and go to "processes." Look for a process toward the top of the list that is using a large amount of resources. The number next to the process indicates how much of the resources are being allocated for that program. Pick one with the highest number (towards the top of the list) and choose "end process." If your computer still is not unfrozen, move to the next step.

Step 3

Change the power source of your laptop. For example, if the laptop was plugged in to the wall, remove the plug and allow it to run on battery power. If this does not work, proceed to the next step.

Step 4

Remove any devices, such as thumb drives or memory cards, that are plugged into the laptop. If this does not unfreeze the computer, move to the next step.

Step 5

Close the lid of your laptop. Open the lid again. This may snap the computer out of its frozen state and back to the login screen. It may also put the computer into hibernate mode. If this does not work, move to the next step.

Step 6

Hit the power button. This might bring up a menu asking you if you want to restart or shut down. At this point you will need to restart or shut down the computer. You will most likely lose what you were working on, unless the program has a recovery process to save your work if this situation arises. If the menu does not pop up, hold the power button until the computer shuts down. Wait 30 seconds, then boot the computer up again.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the computer has to be restarted or shut down, and the program you were working in does not have a recovery feature, your work may be lost.