Skip to main content
  • Place orders quickly and easily
  • View orders and track your shipping status
  • Create and access a list of your products
  • Manage your Dell EMC sites, products, and product-level contacts using Company Administration.

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



Cause information is not available.


The system locks up or stops responding

If your computer suddenly stops responding while in Windows, you may be experiencing a computer lock up issue. 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.

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.

Back to top

Search for Windows Error Codes

Windows may display an error code that is associated with the shutdown, restart, lockup, or error. The quickest way to find info on this is to use the search engine of your choice to look for your specific issue as Microsoft has detailed information for each:

Search Dell  |  Search Microsoft  |  Search Google  |  Search Bing   SLN129591_en_US__1iC_External_Link_BD_v1

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 Screen of Death 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.

Back to top

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 Dell Knowledge Base Article How to Run a Preboot Diagnostic Test on a Dell Computer.

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

Back to top

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 integrated computer maintenance and performance tasks. No action is needed.

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

For 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.

Back to top

Update Drivers and BIOS

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

Back to top

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. To protect itself from overheating, the processor slows itself down and this performance decrease can be interpreted as a lock-up. 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.

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

    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 can 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, as you can cause damage to the computer if used incorrectly.
Back to top

Check Safe Mode for Symptoms

Safe mode prevents noncrucial applications and drivers from loading. This allows us to eliminate the software as a possible root cause of the lock-ups 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 will return to normal when you log back into regular mode.
NOTE: Please note that when you log in to Safe Mode, your anti-virus program is disabled. Please use caution when connected to a network or the Internet while your anti-virus is disabled.

To boot into safe mode, follow the instructions below:

  1. Start the computer.
  2. Tap 'F8' on the keyboard immediately and every one second until the Dell logo screen disappears. From there, you will see the Windows Advanced Options Menu on the screen. (If the Windows Advanced Options Menu does not appear, restart the computer and try again.)
  3. Select Safe mode with Networking and press Enter.
  4. Log in as the administrator or as a user with administrative access.

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

In Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, learn How to Boot into Safe Mode in Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.

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 and you may want to complete steps 6 and 7 to see if you can resolve the lock-ups or stop responding.

Back to top

Update Windows

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

Back to top

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.

Back to top

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, 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.

Back to top

11: Check for Malware

Malware (virus, spyware, so forth) can cause a Windows computer to lock up or appear to stop responding. To check for malware on your computer and to ensure that your computer is up to date on security software, browse to Dell Knowledge Base Article, 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.

Back to top

The computer will not resume from sleep or hibernate mode

If your computer will not wake from sleep or hibernate, browse to Dell Knowledge Base Article, Computer Does Not Wake Up or Resume from Suspend / Hibernate Mode.

Back to top

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 are commonly scheduled by Windows. To access and use this feature, learn How To Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows on a Dell Computer.

Back to top

Factory Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows

When 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. Learn How To Restore or Reinstall Microsoft Windows on a Dell Computer

Back to top

Additional Information

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

Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem. Browse the website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

NOTE: Offers are only available for US, Canada, UK,, France, Germany, and China personal computer customers. Server and Storage are not applicable.

Article Properties

Affected Product

Chromebox, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired Models, Thin Clients, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations, Dell Dock WD15, Dell Thunderbolt Dock TB15Chromebox, Inspiron, Retired Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, Chromebook, G Series, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Retired 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 – WD19TBSSee more

Last Published Date

02 Jun 2022



Article Type