How to Fix a Frozen Computer

How to Fix a Frozen Computer
Ⓒ Provided by Lifewire

By Ryan Dube, Lifewire

Issues with a frozen computer can appear in one of several different ways:

  • The mouse may stop moving while the keyboard still seems to work.
  • The mouse and keyboard stop working, and all windows are frozen.
  • You can't close any open windows or applications.
  • The entire screen turns blue and displays an error code.
Your Mac or Windows computer can freeze unexpectedly, and sometimes the cause isn't very obvious or easy to troubleshoot.

Note: If you're lucky enough that your computer provided an error message, like with a Windows blue screen of death, that error code will often point you in the direction of the cause.

Cause of a Frozen Computer

The most common cause of computers freezing is software-related. It might be software that's incompatible with your system, an app that's stuck in a loop, corrupt files like faulty device drivers, or a virus or malware writing to protected system memory or overwriting sensitive system files.

Another possible cause is damaged hardware like a damaged hard drive or failing memory cards. If failing memory contains any OS-related boot code, the computer might not only freeze but could potentially not boot back up either.

Read More: How to Delete Your Search History and Become a Digital Ghost

How to Fix a Frozen Computer

Below are general troubleshooting steps you can try regardless of the operating system. Start with the first steps for quick fixes that help most of the time when a computer freezes. Troubleshooting gets more advanced as you work down the list.

  • Press the Esc key twice. This solution may close out unseen/displayed errors locking your cursor and making it appear like your computer is frozen.
Tip: Using the Esc key can close open windows or applications, or in applications like Excel, it'll quit editing from the formula field.
  • Quit frozen programs. If you're using Windows, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete and launch the Task Manager from the menu. Use Task Manager to force quit applications consuming the most CPU or memory. On Mac, try Command + Option + Esc to bring up the Force Quit Applications window.
  • If closing any application allows your computer to work, you may want to consider uninstalling the application, so your computer doesn't freeze again.
  • Reboot your Windows computer or restart your Mac. If a system process froze or cached memory files were causing the problem, restarting your computer can resolve many of these issues. If the issue goes away after a restart, you may still want to check your computer for malware or scan it for viruses to be safe.

Note: If you can't restart your computer normally, you may need to long-press the power button to force it to power down. Only use this as a last resort since it can sometimes corrupt system files if any of those files are actively in use.

  • Launch your computer in Safe Mode. On Mac, you'll want to restart it into recovery mode. Safe mode is where you'll want to try various fixes like making sure system updates aren't stuck, checking your system startup settings, and updating all of your system drivers to the latest version.
  • On Windows, run an SFC scan to check for corrupt system files and repair them. To fix hard disk issues, run the DISM command as an administrator in the Command Prompt. Type the command Dism /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth and let the command run. On Mac, you can try to use the Disk Utility's First Aid feature to check and verify drive health.

Read More: How to Backup Your Google Drive Files

  • You could have faulty hardware causing the issue with your computer freezing. A frozen mouse, a locked keyboard, or loose memory cards can all contribute to this problem. Try unplugging and replugging in your mouse and keyboard. Also, open your computer and reseat memory cards, as well as internal data and power cables. If you're using a laptop, make sure your Windows laptop battery or your Mac laptop battery is healthy.
  • Recover your computer to the last good state. In Windows, this means you'll need to try to use the System Restore tool to get your computer back in working order. On Mac, you'll need to use HD Recovery Volume utilities.
  • If nothing else has worked up to this point, you may have no other choice but to reset your system. Try our walk-through of the process to reset your Windows PC. Or perform a factory reset of your Mac system. Unfortunately, a system reset will wipe your files and settings, but at least it will get your system working again, just like the day you first bought it.

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Tech Magazine: How to Fix a Frozen Computer
How to Fix a Frozen Computer
A simple restart will usually fix a frozen computer. If that doesn't work, try the following list of solutions to get your computer working again.
Tech Magazine
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