Your computer freezing up is one of the most frustrating things that can happen. You are working on an important document, and suddenly, everything stops responding. This article will discuss the causes of computer freezes and provide solutions to help you fix the problem.
Common causes of computer freezes
Software issues are a common cause of computer freezes. This can happen when you install a new program or even just an update to an existing program or when program files or libraries are missing or corrupted. The new software can conflict with other programs on your computer and cause them to freeze up.
Another common cause of computer freezes is hardware issues. If your computer is getting old, the components may start to wear out. This can cause your computer to freeze up, especially if it is doing a lot of work simultaneously. It’s also possible that your keyboard or mouse is misbehaving, so don’t rule out the possibility that the computer itself is OK but not receiving any input.
If your computer is overheating, it can cause the system to freeze. This is because when the computer gets too hot, components can behave erratically. Overheating can cause programs to crash, and eventually, the entire computer may freeze up. Also, the system can shut down abruptly to protect itself from thermal damage.
Viruses and malware
Computer viruses and malware are also common causes of freezes. These programs can infect your computer and cause it to freeze or crash, often with the deliberate intention of forcing a reboot so that malicious code can be installed and activated.
Lack of RAM
One of the most common causes of computer freezes is a lack of memory. If your computer does not have enough RAM, it can effectively fill up all memory in operation and cause the system to freeze up or crash.
Corrupted or Missing System Files
If your computer’s operating system files are corrupted or missing, it can also cause the system to freeze. System files can become corrupted from damage during the “save” process, a failing hard drive, or the actions of viruses and malware.
Is there any way to unfreeze a computer without having to reboot it?
If you find yourself in a situation where your computer appears to have frozen, there are a few things you can try to unfreeze it without having to reboot. The following steps assume that your keyboard is still responsive:
Give the computer a few minutes
Sometimes a computer will appear freeze if it’s become very busy with some task, and after a few minutes it will start working again.
Try switching to another program
On Windows, you can hold down the Alt key and press the Tab key to toggle between different running programs (or web browser tabs). Check if you can interact with anything other than what you were using when the computer froze. If you can, you should kill the particular program or browser tab that is frozen (see below). You can also try Alt+Esc or Cmd+Esc, which work similarly to Alt+Tab in Windows. On macOS, you can use Command-Tab and Command-Shift-Tab. On macOS, you can use Command-Tab and Command-Shift-Tab.
Try resetting your graphics driver
This only works on Windows. Press Win + Ctrl + Shift + B. You’ll hear a beep, and your screen will go black for a moment. Once the screen image returns, check if the computer is still unresponsive.
Kill unresponsive programs
Press the Ctrl, Alt, and Delete keys simultaneously (Windows). This will allow you to open up the Task Manager, which you can use to try to end any unresponsive programs. The macOS equivalent of Task Manager is called Activity Monitor, and the keyboard shorting Command+Option+Esc should open it.
Rebooting your computer
If none of the above measures work, you can try restarting your computer by pressing and holding the power button until it reboots. If it instead shuts off, release the power button, wait a few seconds, then momentarily press the power button like you usually would to start it back up.
An occasional computer freeze is not unlikely, but if your computer is freezing regularly, you may have some underlying hardware or software problem that needs to be addressed. Check our article about the causes and solutions for computer crashes, and worth through the suggestions there to resolve your issues.
Remember: it’s always a good idea to keep backups of your important files to protect against data loss