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Computer Restarts or Shuts Down Intermittently, Locks Up, Stops Responding or an Error Occurs.

Summary: This article provides recommendations to resolve an issue with your Dell computer restarting, shutting down, locking up or not responding, and similar issues with Windows.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content



If your computer suddenly stops responding while in Windows, you may be experiencing a computer lock up issue. Lock ups can look like many things. To note a few:

  • Frozen or stuck screen
  • Black screen or blue screen
  • An unplanned reboot of Windows
  • An error message that does not allow Windows to continue working

For computer lock ups, there are steps you can take to attempt to discover the root cause.

NOTE: If the issue recently started, note any recent hardware or software changes before beginning troubleshooting, as reversing those recent changes may quickly identify the issue.


Unplug devices from the computer

A piece of hardware may be causing the lockup. Try unplugging all devices from your computer, including:

  • Printers
  • Scanners
  • Media Card Readers
  • Small Media cradles (iPod, PDA, MP3 player, so forth)
  • Digital Cameras and Video Recorders
  • USB storage devices
  • CDs or DVDs from all optical drives
  • Docking station or port replicator

The only devices that you should leave attached to your computer are your monitor, mouse, and keyboard, if the computer is a desktop.

Once this is completed, unplug the computer from the wall, remove the laptop battery (if applicable) and hold the power button down for approximately 15 seconds. Then plug wall power back into the computer and attempt to restart.

If the mouse or keyboard is causing the lockup, go to the Dell Support Library page for Mouse, Keyboard, and Touchpad.

If you are unable to identify the issue by reverting recent changes or unplugging devices, you can troubleshoot using the steps that are listed below.

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Search for Windows Error Codes

Windows may display an error code that is associated with the shutdown, restart, lockup, or error. Use the search engine of your choice to look for your specific issue as Microsoft has detailed information for each:

Search Dell | Search Microsoft This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies. | Search Google This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies. | Search Bing This hyperlink is taking you to a website outside of Dell Technologies.

For general information about types of error codes, see the Dell Knowledge Base article, Error Codes on Dell Commercial and Consumer products.

How to Fix Blue Screens in Windows 10

Watch this YouTube video to learn how to fix blue screen or STOP errors in Windows 10.

Duration: 00:02:59 (hh:mm:ss)
Closed captions: English only

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Run a Computer Diagnostic

To determine if your computer is experiencing a hardware problem, run the Dell Preboot System Assessment (PSA) Diagnostics. For information about how to run Diagnostics, and to determine the issue, see How to Run a Preboot Diagnostic Test on a Dell Computer.

If onboard diagnostics and other troubleshooting have not identified the root cause, consider running the Quick Test or Full Scan at Dell personal computer Diagnostics. You can Run a Quick Test using SupportAssist.

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Run Routine System Maintenance

Be sure to regularly run maintenance tasks on your computer to keep it at peak performance. Windows 11 and Windows 10 have integrated computer maintenance and performance tasks, and no action is needed.

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

You can also use the System File Checker to verify the computer files and folders on your computer. To learn more about System File Checker, see How to Run System File Checker in Microsoft Windows

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Update Drivers and BIOS

Often, outdated drivers or BIOS settings cause lockups. Be sure to regularly update your drivers to take full advantage of your hardware and software.

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 computer to see if the problem continues. Learn How to Download and Install Dell Drivers.

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Check Safe Mode for Symptoms

Safe mode prevents non-essential applications and drivers from loading. This allows us to eliminate the software as a possible root cause of the lockups or stops responding.

NOTE: When using safe mode, the video resolution is 800 x 600 and may make your icons, and text appear larger than normal. Also, your desktop background is not shown in this mode. These are normal behaviors and do not require troubleshooting to repair, as they return to normal when you log back into regular mode.
NOTE: When you log in to Safe Mode, your anti-virus program is disabled. Use caution when connected to a network or the Internet while your anti-virus is disabled.

For instructions on booting into Safe Mode, see the relevant link for your operating system:

Open applications and test the computer in safe mode. If the symptoms exist in safe mode, continue the troubleshooting steps in this article. If the symptoms do not exist in safe mode, the issue is likely related to a driver or software.

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Update Windows

Be sure that your computer is running with the latest updates for Windows. To check for updates, Click Start, then Settings, then Update & Security. Then click Check for updates. Allow all updates to install and allow the computer to reboot as necessary. If you have issues with Windows Update, see How to Use the Windows Update Troubleshooter to Identify and Repair Windows Update Issues

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Uninstall, Reinstall, and Update Software

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

NOTE: Notice: Before uninstalling any application, be sure to back up any critical data. Also, be sure you have the required media and product key to reinstall the software. If you are in doubt, check with the software vendor before uninstalling.

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Look for Multiple Anti-virus Programs

The use of multiple anti-virus software programs may cause your computer to lock up. Anti-virus programs come preinstalled 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, you must 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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Check for Malware

Malware (virus, spyware, or other malicious software) can cause a Windows computer to lock up or appear to stop responding. To check for malware and to ensure that your computer's security software is current, see Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows

For anything virus, malware, and security related we recommend the content and videos on our Security and Antivirus page on the Dell Support Site.

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Check Air Vents

Blocked air vents can cause performance issues, as the computer may not be receiving the proper airflow and the processor may overheat. The processor slows itself down and its performance decreases can be interpreted as a lock-up, this is done to protect itself from overheating. To ensure that this is not the root cause of the lock-up issue, perform the following steps:

  1. Check the vents on the computer to see if they are covered with dust and not allowing heat and air to pass through. See the example that is shown in Figure 1 for a laptop vent and the example that is shown in Figure 2 for a desktop vent.

    Laptop Vent
    Figure 1: Vent on the bottom of the Laptop with dust.

    desktop vent
    Figure 2: Vent on the front of a desktop with dust.
  2. Turn off the System.
  3. Remove all power sources: Unplug the AC Adapter and Remove the Battery or Unplug the Desktop Power Cord.
  4. Use a compressed air to blow the dust out of the vents. Be sure to hold the can at an upright (near 90-degree angle) and hold it 15-20 centimeters (6-8 inches) away from the target.
NOTE: Do not use your mouth to blow the dust out of a laptop. The moisture from your mouth can cause permanent damage. When using a can of compressed air, use according to the directions on the side of the can. You can damage the computer if compressed air is used incorrectly.
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The computer does not resume from sleep or hibernate mode

If your computer does not wake from sleep or hibernate, see Computer Does Not Wake Up or Resume from Suspend / Hibernate Mode.

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Use System Restore

Microsoft Windows contains a feature that is known as System Restore to roll back changes to the computer based on restore points that Windows commonly schedules. For more information about this feature, see How to Use System Restore in Microsoft Windows.

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Factory Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows

If the troubleshooting steps above have not resolved the problem, there is likely an underlying issue with the operating system. Use SupportAssist OS Recovery to reinstall Windows on your computer. 

Restore your Computer Using SupportAssist OS Recovery

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Additional Information

Recommended Articles

Here are some recommended articles related to this topic that might be of interest to you.

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

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Affected Product
Chromebox, Inspiron, Legacy Desktop Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Legacy Laptop Models, Thin Clients, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations, Dell Dock WD15 , Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB15, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB16, Dell Dock WD19, Dell Thunderbolt Dock - WD19TB, Dell Thunderbolt Dock – WD19TBS ...
Last Published Date

02 Jul 2024



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