How to fix Computer Freezing or ‘an unresponsive computer’


Ever experienced a time when your computer just doesn’t respond to your commands. When either the open program or the keyboard or mouse or a combination of them just freeze up and don’t respond. It is damn irritating but many of these freezes can be corrected without a forceful shut down. These are freezes occurring due to a single program that makes the whole computer unresponsive. Sometimes a ‘freeze’ can occur due to memory (RAM) overuse and malfunction also.

Steps to follow

Certain steps should be followed in a chronological order to ensure that the least potent solution is used first.

  • Ensure that you have an anti virus software installed and run a virus scan to ensure that the system is free of any infections. If that problem is out of the way, then proceed further.
  • To close an unresponsive program, try pressing “Alt” and “F4” together. This may solve the problem without much hassle.
  • If more than one programs is open and the mouse becomes unresponsive, you can press the “Alt” and “Tab” keys in tandem to switch between programs and then close the desired program as explained above.
  • If “Alt” + “Tab” combination does not work, then try bringing up the task manager. The task manager can be opened with three keys pressed together in two different combinations. Either the well known combination of “Ctrl” + “Alt” + “Tab” OR you can also use the other combination of “(Left) Ctrl” + “(Left) Shift” + “Esc”. If you use the second combination, the task manager opens directly, but if you use the first combination of “Ctrl” + “Alt” + “Tab”, you have to select “Open Task Manager” from a list that appears.
  • The next step is to identify the problem area. If your mouse is moving freely, then the most probable thing is that you have a locked up program. It needs to be selected from the list of programs and closed by pressing “End Task”.
  • If the whole computer feels jerky and the hard disk is continuously active, then your problem may be memory exhaustion or system overload. In this case, you have to use the ‘Processes’ tab and close a few processes.
  • To do this, Go to the “Processes” tab and sort by CPU or Memory as determined. If the mouse is not active, then you can use the keyboard to navigate through tabs and headers. Just press  “Tab” to move forward and “Shift” + “Tab” to move back through the controls until you get to the header. Scroll through the listings in the desired header by using the arrow keys and pressing ‘enter’ to select.
  • Once you reach the problem program or process (which mostly is at the top of the list), select it and press ‘End Process’. If you find it hard to navigate to the ‘End Process’ button, then just press “Alt” + “E” and press ‘space bar’ to confirm
  • In case the computer does get get responsive by all of the above steps, then it may be frozen due to a component problem and a forceful shutdown is needed. This can be done by long pressing the ‘Power’ button.

How to fix basic component problems

According to studies done by Microsoft, 33% of freezing related problems in Desktops and 25% of the same in Laptops can be fixed, simply by re-seating the memory or RAM modules. We discuss here, how to simply do this:

  • First and foremost. Shut down your computer and unplug it from any power source. This is most important.
  • In case of a desktop computer, just open the cover of your computer tower case. Locate and re-seat the memory modules. The modules are normally located on the mother board. In case you are unable to identify, then refer to your computer’s manual for the exact location. Pull the retaining clip back from the memory module and pull the module upward out of its socket. Push the memory into the slot while pulling the retaining clips gently toward the memory until it is fully seated. To reseat it, make sure the notch is aligned with the memory slot.
  • Since, the computer case is already open, no harm in re-seating other add-in cards present, for example, the video memory card.
  • In case of Laptop computers, you don’t need to open the case. The memory is normally located separately and can be accessed just by opening the small lid which is also labelled. Unscrew the door. Pull the retaining clips back from the memory module and pull the module toward you to a 45-degree angle. Then pull the module straight out of its socket. Push the memory into the slot at a 45-degree angle. Rotate the module gently until the retaining clips are securely fastened, and the module is fully seated. To reseat it, make sure the notch is aligned with the memory slot.

Other probable problems

If none of the above solves the problem then the computer may require professional help, but just before doing that, it helps to cross check a few basic things.

  • Overheating – The computer may be overheating due to a fan malfunction. Check to ensure that all fans are working fine.
  • Power problem – Check to ensure that the computer is connected to a proper power source and not to a multi pin socket. Try connecting it to a different power socket at home.
  • Try to get a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) for your computer.

If all the above has been cross checked and the problem still lies unresolved, then get professional help to avoid any other malfunctions which may arise.

Bhanu Pratap
Bhanu Pratap
Right from childhood have been a technology buff. As a child used to take a screw driver and open all of my toys just to see what ticks inside them. My parents once got me a wooden rocking horse with just four wheels and nothing else to open, thinking that they would finally get some rest. Next day the wheels were being removed to check the shaft principle used in the making. This craziness just stuck with me as I grew up and got interested in all the latest technological marvels that just keep springing up everyday. Used to blow all of pocket money just to keep myself updated with the latest walkman, which was one of the most interesting inventions paving the way for modern mp3 players and other portable music devices which are much more than just music devices now. This site is just a step to ease that geek in me. To share and let you share the latest gadgets, news and anything related to technology. Lets enjoy this feeling together.

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