How familiar does the following sound? Your computer was working
fine, but then suddenly started locking up (aka hanging or freezing),
rebooting itself (crashing) or shutting down spontaneously? If you know
only too well what I am talking about, then read on! Performing the
simple steps below can fix the majority of lockup cases.
1. Check for recently installed software or hardware.
If the lockups started to happen after you installed a new peace of
hardware, new software program, or new drivers, uninstall it and see if
the problem goes away.
2. Run your antivirus program.
One of the first things to do in the case of sudden lockups is to run
your antivirus program. Check your antivirus manufacturer's website for
updates and latest virus definition files. (This is absolutely
necessary, outdated antivirus is not going to be of any use!) If you
don't have antivirus software installed - or if updates are unavailable
- run one of the web-based antivirus scans that some major antivirus
vendors like Trend Micro are offering for free. You can find a
comprehensive list of available web-based scans and free antivirus
3. Run a good spyware removal tool.
If your machine is not infected with any viruses, it is still possible
that it has some harmful adware or spyware is present. Download and run
some good spyware removal tool such as AdAware or Microsoft
http://www.free-antivirus.info for a list of free spyware removal
4. Check for free hard drive space.
When no viruses are found, check out free hard drive space on drive C:.
Make sure there is more than 20% of free space available; low disk space
can lead to random lockups.
5. Check for overheating.
Overheating is another known cause of lockups. It can be caused by
problems with fans inside the case, dust buildup, or other cooling
problems. Make sure the power supply fan and CPU fan are running and
free of dust buildup. You can check the temperatures inside the case by
running Motherboard monitor
http://mbm.livewiredev.com - make sure the temperatures are within
the preset limits. Be very careful while cleaning inside the computer
case (use plastic vacuum crevice tool) and NEVER OPEN THE POWER SUPPLY
CASE as it contains high voltage.
6. Check the hard disk.
Check the hard disk - it is possible that its logical structure is
corrupted. To check the disk for errors, right-click on the disk C: icon
in "My Computer", select the "Tools" tab, check all check boxes in the
"Check disk options" field, and press the "Check now" button. It should
ask whether you want to schedule the check next time you restart your
computer - answer "Yes" and restart your PC. The check will be performed
automatically after startup; it can take a while, so be patient. The
program will attempt to fix some problems automatically – however, if
the hard disk is failing physically, it will need to be replaced. It is
also a good idea to run Disk Defragmenter (located in Start Menu
> Programs > Accessories > System Tools) to optimize data placement on
the hard disk for increased performance and reliability.
7. Check the memory.
Sometimes random lockups can be attributed to the computer memory (RAM)
starting to fail. You can test the memory by running Windows Memory
Diagnostic that can be downloaded from
http://oca.microsoft.com/en/windiag.asp. If memory problems are
found, try re-seating the RAM (pull it out and plug it back in). If it
doesn't work, replace the defective RAM.
8. Check for other hardware problems (advanced users).
More hardware-related problems can be diagnosed by running hardware
tests from the Ultimate Boot CD that can be downloaded from
http://www.ultimatebootcd.com. However, you should only use it if
you know what are you doing - some programs on that CD can be dangerous
when used inappropriately (for example, some of them can wipe the
contents of your hard disk).
9. Update Windows and drivers.
Some lockups can be caused by outdated software components - update your
windows and drives by running a windows update:
http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com (it's good idea to run it
The above steps will help diagnose and eliminate the most common
causes of lockups. Hundreds more of other possible scenarios need to be
dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as it all goes down to your
particular computer configuration. Asking on
troubleshooting forums/newsgroups should help you figure out
solutions to not-so-obvious lockup cases.
Michael Woodford is a computer expert from a team that runs
you're NOT sure how to complete any of the mentioned steps above, please
contact the Professionals at ACP Technologies, Inc. to help you get your
computer back under control.
Please call: 1.866.398.0110 - 410.398.0110 Fax: 1.443.593.0330 or