This document contains recommendations on what to do if the computer freezes or locks. If your computer has stopped responding, follow the steps below to get your computer to work.

Tip: Some programs have an AutoSave feature. If you were editing a document at the locking time, you could restore a new version of the document after you restart it. If your program doesn’t have an AutoSave feature or the ability to recover a recent version of a document, you may lose all unsaved work due to freezes or deadlock. It is essential to save your work regularly to minimize or prevent this possibility.

Give the computer a while

Wait. Give the computer a few minutes to process. Sometimes a computer can freeze, but it is just slow or busy handling a complicated task.

Is the computer frozen?

See if your computer can respond to anything by pressing the Caps Lock key on your keyboard and see the Caps Lock LED light (lit) to see if it turns on and off. If your computer can turn Caps Lock on and off, continue to the next step. If nothing happens, the computer freezes, and you have to restart the computer.

End of program No response

If Caps Lock can be turned on and off, Windows still works, but another program might not respond and cause the computer to freeze. Press Ctrl + Alt + Del to open Windows Task Manager. If Task Manager can open, highlight the unresponsive program and choose End Task, which should clean the computer.

Note:  It may take 10 to 20 seconds for the unresponsive program to terminate after selecting End Task.

If Task Manager opens but the mouse is still not working, it’s probably the mouse’s problem.

Restart computer freezes

If none of the steps above helped, you must restart your computer. To restart the computer to freeze, press and hold the power button until the computer shuts down. After the computer shuts down, please wait a few seconds, then turn it back on and let it start as usual.

Note: During computer boot, you may see a screen asking if you want to start the computer in Safe Mode or Regular Windows Start. Select the option to start Windows usually and see if Windows starts up correctly, without error.

What happens to any unsaved programs?

Any program that is not saved is lost when the computer has to be restarted because it freezes. In some cases, some programs may save your work automatically every few minutes. If the program you are using performs this action, you can resume your work to the last auto-save location.

Solve Hardware or Device Driver problems

If the computer still freezes or continues to freeze after restarting, there may be faulty hardware or Device Driver not working correctly after trying all of the above. A faulty hard drive, RAM stick, video card, or another hardware piece can cause the computer to freeze. A Device Driver can also cause a computer to freeze if it is outdated, conflicts with another Driver, or doesn’t work correctly.

If you determine that a defective part of the hardware is causing the freezing, you should replace the hardware immediately to prevent further damage to the computer. If a Device Driver has an error, download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website and install it before the computer freezes. Or use another computer to download Driver and try to install the driver on your computer.

If you can’t install the latest driver before the computer freezes, another option is to start the computer in Safe Mode. While in Safe Mode, you can access Device Manager and uninstall the hardware device corresponding to Device Driver not working correctly. Then, restart your computer and load into Windows normally. Windows will detect the hardware you have uninstalled and try to install Device Driver again. This process may be enough to fix the problem and prevent further freezing. You can also try to install the latest Driver at this point to make sure your computer is up to date for that Device Driver.

You can also try to access the computer BIOS and disable any hardware not working correctly to see if it stops the freezing from happening. However, you should still replace that hardware because you cannot fully use it if it is even turned off.

Other possible causes for the computer to freeze

Please see our page on Windows that freezes or stops often responding for other possible reasons and how to fix the problem.

Take the computer to the repair shop

If none of the above options work or cannot be tried, we recommend that you take your computer to a computer repair shop and allow a computer technician to diagnose and fix the problem.