Knowledge Base

Microsoft Windows locks up or an error occurs

Table of Contents:

  1. Search for Error Codes
  2. Run a Computer Diagnostic
  3. Run Routine System Maintenance
  4. Update Drivers and BIOS
  5. Update Windows
  6. Uninstall, Reinstall and Update Software
  7. Look for Multiple Anti-virus Programs
  8. Check for Malware
  9. Use System Restore
  10. Factory Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows

1: Search for Error Codes

Windows may display an error code associated with the lockup or error. Use the search engine of your choice to look for your specific issue:

Search Dell | Search Microsoft | Search Google | Search Bing

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2: Run a Computer Diagnostic

To determine if your computer is experiencing a hardware problem, run the Dell Online Diagnostics.

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3: Run Routine System Maintenance

Be sure to regularly run maintenance tasks on your computer to keep it at peak performance. Select your operating system below to learn more about performance and maintenance of your computer.

Windows 10 has built-in system maintenance and performance tasks. No action is needed.

Windows 8 and 8.1
Windows 7
Windows Vista
Windows XP

Also, use the System File Checker to verify the system files and folders on your computer. To run System File Checker, click Start.

For Windows XP click Run... and then type sfc /scannow in the box provided and press Enter.

For Windows Vista and Windows 7, type sfc /scannow in the Start Search box in the Start menu and press Enter.

For Windows 8, type "maintenance" at the Start Screen, then select Perform recommended maintenance tasks automatically.

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4: Update Drivers and BIOS

In many cases, lockups can be caused by outdated drivers or BIOS settings. Be sure to regularly update your drivers to take full advantage of your hardware and software.

Generally speaking, you should update your drivers and BIOS in the following order:

  1. BIOS
  2. Chipset driver
  3. Video driver
  4. Audio driver
  5. Network driver
  6. Other drivers

Try updating each of these drivers individually and then retest the system to see if the problem continues.

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5: Update Windows

Be sure that your computer is running with the latest updates for Windows. Visit the Windows Update website to be sure your computer is fully updated.

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6: Uninstall, Reinstall and Update Software

If your computer is locking up or hanging while using a particular application, try uninstalling the application completely from the computer, then reinstall it and visit the software vendor's website to update the software to the latest version.

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7: Look for Multiple Anti-virus Programs

The use of multiple anti-virus software programs may cause your system to lockup. Anti-virus programs come pre-installed on most Dell Computers, so customers sometimes install other anti-virus programs without realizing that there is already one installed. If you decide to install an alternate anti-virus software, it is important that you first uninstall any other anti-virus programs that may be running on your computer.

Choose only one anti-virus program and reinstall it. It is not recommended to have more than one anti-virus software program installed on your computer. Multiple anti-spyware packages that do not have an AV component do not conflict and can remain on the computer.

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8: Check for Malware

Malware (virus, spyware, etc.) can definitely cause a Windows system to lock up or appear to hang. To check for malware on your system and to ensure that your computer is up to date on security software, visit Dell Knowledge Base Article, "Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows"

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9: Use System Restore

Microsoft Windows contain a feature known as System Restore to roll back changes to the computer based on "restore points" that are commonly scheduled by Windows. To access and use this feature, refer to the link below and select the System Restore option:

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10: Factory Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows

If you are still experiencing lockups in Windows, and the troubleshooting steps above have not resolved the problem, there is likely an underlying issue with the operating system. To restore Microsoft Windows to the original factory configuration, refer to Dell Knowledge Base Article:

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Windows Support Page
More information and support for your Windows operating systems can be found on our Windows Support webpage.

Article ID: SLN129591

Last Date Modified: 10/03/2017 04:10 AM

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