What to Do if Your Windows 10 Computer Stops Responding

If your Windows 10 PC keeps freezing up or not responding, you’re probably at your wits’ end. A computer that keeps freezing when you’re trying to work is infuriating and can result in lost data, time, and productivity. Every operating system has its fair share of bugs and problems, and Windows 10 still falls into that category.

What to Do if Your Windows 10 Computer Stops Responding

You aren’t alone if nothing works on your PC until you hard reboot. This situation is a common occurrence and one you will want to fix. Instead of leaving your computer to continue to freeze, speed up Windows 10 and get your computer back up and running in no time.

Common Causes of a Windows 10 Computer Not Responding

A computer locking up is usually a software issue. It is rarely hardware, as those often cause a system crash rather than a freeze. Overheating causes the computer to shut down, and hardware failure usually causes a blue screen.

A RAM issue can also cause freezing, but that’s rare. It is mainly down to the software. Either too many programs require resources, have missing files, experience file corruption, receive system interrupts, or the processor task queue becomes stuck.

How to Fix Windows 10 Not Responding

Before we proceed to long-term fixes, let’s review what you can do to get Windows to respond.

1. Reset Your Video Drivers

If your computer froze unexpectedly, you should try resetting your video drivers. To do so, you may or may not have to reboot. Either way, press “Win + Ctrl + Shift + B.” Your screen will go black for a few seconds, and you’ll hear a beep indicating that the video drivers have reset.

2. Open the Task Manager

Using the keyboard combination “CTRL + ALT + Delete,” open your task manager and force quit any frozen open applications. If one application has a serious error, it can cause a slow-down with your entire system.

3. Force Restart Your Computer

Hold down the Power button for several seconds until it shuts down forcefully. Note that tapping the power button will do whatever you set it to do in the power settings (sleep, hibernate, or power off), so it will not work. Wait for about 30 seconds before rebooting. This process will get you back up and running for most issues quickly.

4. Check for Changes in Windows 10

When a Windows 10 computer stops responding for no reason, it usually occurs because something has changed. Before going into the troubleshooting phase, have you made any changes recently, added a new program, installed new antivirus or security program, encrypted your hard drive, or made any other significant changes? If so, that’s the place to begin.

If you changed something and your Windows 10 computer began freezing, undo that change or remove the program. Reboot your computer and see if it freezes again. If it does, move on to these other troubleshooting techniques. If the computer no longer freezes, it was the change you made that caused it. Investigate that further.

Next, you’ll want to do some basic troubleshooting to figure out and permanently fix the underlying reasons for your troubles.

Troubleshooting when Windows 10 Freezes

Fortunately, Windows 10 makes it easy to start the troubleshooting process. Once you’ve fixed the initial problem and your computer is responding, start the troubleshooting process. This process is essential if your computer has locked up more than once. Rebooting after each step is probably a good idea but may not be necessary for some situations.

  1. Use the Windows 10 Troubleshooter: First, check for any displayed options to troubleshoot detected errors. If no options pop up with the error, navigate to your computer’s Settings menu and click on Troubleshoot. Running the troubleshooter may expedite your solution by pointing you right to the problem.
  2. Try Safe Mode: If Step 1 fails, try running your Windows 10 device in Safe Mode to locate the issue. Go to “Start Menu -> Power,” then hold down the “Shift” key and select “Restart.” Safe Mode essentially runs only the native processes on your device. If the computer ceases freezing, there is third-party software causing the issue.
  3. Check Task Manager: Occasionally, having too many browser tabs or running programs can cause Windows 10 to lock up. Press “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” to launch the Task Manager. Look for an app that frequently consumes a high percentage of resources, then end the processes by right-clicking on them.

    If you’re lucky, you will catch a program that has problems or uses up your processor, memory, disk, or network resources when your computer freezes. Often, a memory leak that consumes all cache causes freezes. Other programs and processes must wait their turn, leading to a freeze or lockup scenario.
  4. Look for Missing Files: If your computer freezes while performing a particular task, such as word processing, video editing, or browsing the internet, it may be that the program causes the freeze. A required file may have become corrupted or accidentally overwritten. Uninstall and reinstall the program/app.
  5. Use System File Checker (SFC): SFC looks for corrupted or missing system files. Open “Powershell” or “Command Prompt” as an administrator, then type “sfc /scannow” and press “Enter.”
  6. Use Deployment Image Servicing and Management (DISM): DISM checks Windows Store and Windows Update for errors. Press “Windows + R,” copy/paste “runas /profile /user:[your admin username] cmd,” then press “Enter.” Type in your admin password and press “Enter” again, then type “dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth” and press “Enter” once more.
  7. Update/Repair Drivers: Right-click on the Start menu and select Device Manager. Right-click on each device and choose Uninstall device or Update driver. If you uninstalled any drivers, select your computer name at the top, then click “Action -> Scan for hardware changes.”
  8. Reinstall or Restore Windows 10: If none of the above steps solve your Windows 10 freezing issue, your only real option is to reinstall Windows 10 or perform a system restore. Select a Restore Point before the freezes occurred or boot from your Windows 10 installation media and select to reinstall while keeping your files and settings. Hopefully, that should fix it! Both options won’t save non-Microsoft Store apps and programs, but some licenses may remain based on how the app links them.
    Windows Recovery Options

Unfortunately, there are several reasons why a PC running Windows 10 can freeze up, all of which boil down to hardware or software problems. Start with the simple approaches, such as a restart, forced if you have to, and then scanning for missing files and drivers if the restart didn’t work.

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