Knowledge Base

How to fix a computer that hangs or freezes

If you encounter problems with your computer hanging on certain functions or freezing and becoming unresponsive, see the following methods for fixing your issue.

Method 1: Run the Startup Repair.

If you are running Windows Vista or newer, your computer has a program installed called Startup Repair. Startup Repair is a recovery tool that automatically fixes some problems that might stop Windows from starting.

If Startup Repair doesn't start on its own
  1. Remove any CDs, DVDs or other disks from the computer and restart using the computer's power button.
  2. Press and hold F8 as your computer restarts. Press F8 before the Windows logo appears or restart your computer and try again.
  3. On the Advanced Boot Options screen, highlight Repair your computer and press Enter.
  4. Select a keyboard layout and click Next.
  5. On the System Recovery Options menu, click Startup Repair.
  6. If repairs aren't successful Windows will display any problems, it has identified.

Note: If the Repair your computer option isn't listed, your computer either doesn't include preinstalled recovery options or your network administrator has disabled them.

Method 2: Run a hard drive diagnostic.

A PSA diagnostic can tell you if your computer is experiencing certain hardware problems. These problems could include out-of-date hardware drivers or a need for Basic Input/Output System (BIOS) updates.
For help, see How to run and read a hard drive diagnostic.

Method 3: Run the System File Checker.

  1. Log on to an account that has administrator rights. You must have admin rights to run the System File Checker.
  2. Click the Start button. For Windows XP, click Start, then Run and skip to step 4.
  3. Click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt and click Run as administrator.
  4. At the command prompt, type sfc /scannow and press Enter. Be sure to type a space between sfc and /scannow
  5. The Command Prompt will display the message Windows Resources Protection did not find any integrity violations if there is no problem with your system.
  6. The Command Prompt will display the message Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them. Details are included in the CBS.log *windir*\logs\CBS\CBS.log if there was a problem with your system and repairs were made.

Note: The System File Checker may need to be run three or more times to identify an issue and fix it completely. This operation must be repeated because some items need to be fixed in order such as a boot sector before a Windows boot file.

Method 4: Update the drivers and BIOS

Outdated device drivers or BIOS settings can cause computers to lockup or hang. Try updating each of your drivers individually and then retest the computer.
  1. On the Dell Drivers & Downloads Product Selection page, choose your computer.
  2. Use the Category drop-down menu under the Refine your results filter to find your drivers and install them in the following order.
  1. BIOS
  2. Chipset Driver
  3. Video Driver
  4. Audio Driver
  5. Network Driver
  6. Other drivers

Method 5: Update Windows

Make sure that you are running the most recent version of your Windows OS by running the Windows Update.
  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Click All Programs.
  3. Click Windows Update.
  • If updates are available, they will be listed in the program window.
  • If your copy of Windows is up to date, it will read No Important Updates Available.

For Windows Vista
  1. Type update in the Start Search box and click Windows Update in Programs list.
  2. Click Check for updates in the upper left corner of the window.
  3. Click View available updates.
  4. Select the updates you want to install from the list provided, then click Install.

Method 6: Uninstall, reinstall, repair and update software

Sometimes conflicts between software can result in problems with Windows running properly.
If your computer is only freezing or hanging when using a particular program, you can attempt to repair that program or uninstall the program completely and then reinstall it.

To uninstall or repair a program
  1. Click Start.
  2. Click Control Panel from the right-hand column of your start menu.
  3. Click Uninstall a Program (Add or Remove Programs on Windows XP).
  4. Choose the program you want to remove or repair from the list.
  5. If the program can be repaired, the Repair option will be listed at the top of the list. Click Repair to fix any problems with the program.
  6. If Repair isn't listed, or you want to uninstall the program completely, click Uninstall.

Note: Most programs can also be uninstalled by using the program's uninstall feature in the program folder.

To reinstall a program
  1. Insert the software disc into your computer or download the program from the internet or a network location.
  2. Run the installation program.
    • From a disc: wait for the installation to autorun, then follow the on-screen prompts. If the disc doesn't autorun, open the disc folder and double-click the installation program.
    • From the internet: click Open or Run to install immediately. To install later click Save, then double-click the installation program from the Downloads folder to run it later.
    • From a network: Open Get Programs by clicking Start, then Control Panel, Programs and Get Programs. Select the program from a list and click Install.
  1. Visit the software vendor's website and install any updates to the application.

Method 7: Check for multiple anti-virus programs

Running more than one anti-virus program may cause your system to lockup.
You may have installed an anti-virus program without realizing that one came preloaded on your computer, or you installed new software without completely removing the existing anti-virus program.

To fix anti-virus conflicts
  1. Make sure that any anti-virus software on your computer has been uninstalled (see the steps To uninstall a program above). This includes anti-virus programs that came preloaded.
  2. Choose only one anti-virus program and reinstall it.
  3. Do not install any other anti-virus software without first removing the existing software.

Note: Anti-spyware software packages that do not include an anti-virus (AV) application do not cause conflicts and do not need to be removed.

Method 8: Check for Malware

Malware, such as viruses or spyware, can cause a Windows computer to freeze or hang. Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are up to date, then run them to check for any problems.
For more help with malware issues, see How to Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows.

Method 9: Use System Restore

The system restore feature allows you to reverse any changes you might have made to your computer recently, and return it to an earlier restore point.
For more information on using the system restore, see How to perform a system restore for Windows 7.

Method 10: Run the Dell Diagnostics Utility

Run a Dell Diagnostics Utility scan of the computer to make sure that the computer hardware is working properly.
For more information on running the diagnostics utility, see How to Run the Dell 32-bit diagnostics utility.

Method 11: Reinstall Microsoft Windows

If Windows still hangs or freezes after trying these methods, there is probably an issue with your operating system (OS).

From a partition
To restore Microsoft Windows to the factory settings from a partition on the hard drive, see How to restore a Windows 7 PC to factory settings.

From a disc
You may also reinstall the OS manually from a disc, then reinstall drivers, configure the OS and install any other necessary updates. Refer for instructions to manually reinstall your operating system in Win 8.1, Win 8, Win 7, Win Vista and Win XP

Article ID: SLN101572

Last Date Modified: 03/18/2014 12:00 AM

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