Why Your Computer Keeps Freezing and How to Fix it [EASY]

Published May 24, 2019

Are you tired of shouting “Why does my computer keep freezing?!” into the void? I’ve been through this myself several times, and have discovered many reasons why your computer keeps freezing.

More importantly, I’m going to show you how to fix this problem step by step. I’ve demonstrated the steps using Windows 10 but they should all work for Windows 7/8 as well.

Most Common Reason Your Computer Keeps Freezing: Your CPU is Overloaded With Too Many Programs

If your computer keeps freezing, the first thing to investigate should be whether it is overloaded with too many programs at once. If this happens, your computer won’t be able to keep up with everything going on and freeze randomly.


To see if this is the case, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open up your Windows Task Manager.

task manager CPU

Make sure to click the CPU column to sort it in descending order. Now, you can see which processes are taking up the most CPU on your computer. Usually, for a computer to freeze because of this, the overall CPU being used will be over 99%.

To solve the issue right-click on the processes taking up the most CPU and click End Task.

If this doesn’t solve the issue, let’s move on to the next step to figure out why your PC keeps freezing. Keep your Windows Task Manager open.

2. Your Computer is Using Too Much Memory

A lack of available memory can also cause your computer to randomly freeze. Similarly to above, we’re now going to look at the Memory column in Windows Task Manager. If you closed it from last step, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open it up again.

task manager memory

This time you’re going to want to sort by Memory in descending order. Like for the CPU being overloaded, if your memory usage is over 99% your computer could freeze.

To solve the issue, like before, right-click on the processes taking up the most memory, and click End Task.

If CPU or memory usage isn’t the problem, keep reading to troubleshoot further.

3. Your Computer is Out of Storage Space

If you have no space on your hard drive, then your computer could run out of space for temp and system files. This is an issue and could be why your computer keeps freezing.

Open up File Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E.

this PC main

On the left, click on This PC and look for Devices and drives. If your drives have no free space, try deleting some files to make some room. An easy way to do this is to delete temp files.

To do this, first press Windows key + R to open up the Run window.

run window

Type in temp and click OK.

temp files

Press Ctrl + A to select all files, right-click, then click Delete.

To clean up more files that could be taking up too much space, check out CCleaner (it’s free).

If freeing up storage space didn’t do the trick, there could be other reasons why your computer keeps freezing.

4. Your Computer is Overheating

Normally overheating is associated with the CPU being overloaded, but this isn’t always the case. To see if this is the cause, download and install Core Temp to monitor your CPU temperature (don’t worry it’s free and completely safe).

Once you have Core Temp installed, open it up.

core temp

Look at the temperature readings when your computer keeps freezing. Generally speaking, high temperature spikes (over 80°C) could be the cause of random freezing.

For a more detailed overview of how to check your CPU temperature, check out our (older) article on checking processor temperature.

If your CPU temperatures look normal even when your PC keeps freezing, move on to Step 5.

If your CPU temperatures look high, common culprits could be:

  • Not having proper ventilation: make sure your computer or laptop vents aren’t blocked (e.g. your computer is against a wall). This is especially true for laptops, since laptops have less ventilation.
  • Fans aren’t running: open up your computer case and look to see if all the fans are running. If not, double check their connections to your motherboard.
  • Heatsink is seated incorrectly: check out this video to see if your heatsink is seated in the same way.
  • Heatsink thermal paste is worn away: check your heatsink and CPU to see if there is thermal paste on it. This is essential to cooling your CPU. If your thermal paste is worn away you should re-apply some, or take your computer to a professional.

In general, if you don’t feel comfortable trying to fix a hardware issue like this yourself, I highly suggest you take your computer to a professional who knows what they’re doing.

5. Your Drivers are Corrupted or Outdated

If your computer keeps freezing, it could also be caused by a driver related issue. For example, if there is an issue with your graphics card driver, your games can keep freezing.

To see if this is an issue, check your Device Manager. First, press Windows Key + R to open the Run window:

run devmgmt

Next, type in devmgmt.msc and click OK.

device manager

If your Device Manager looks similar to mine, your drivers should be fine. Specifically, make sure there are no Other devices, Unknown devices, or Red Xs or Exclamation marks.

To double check, and to resolve any issues, try to identify any problems using this page.

Finally, try updating your drivers by following these instructions.

Turns out it’s not a driver issue that’s causing your computer to keep freezing? Good thing we still have some more things to try out!

6. Your Computer Could Have a Virus

Viruses can cause a lot of trouble to your computer. In fact, it’s not that uncommon for a virus to cause your PC to keep freezing.

If you don’t have an antivirus installed, you really should. I personally use Avira free version and run occasional scans with MalwareBytes free version. For other options, check out our post on the best free Windows antivirus.

To see if viruses could be causing your computer to randomly freeze, try running a scan with the antivirus software you have installed. Here’s an example for Avira:

avira main

Also for good measure I would run a scan with Malwarebytes after.

malwarebytes main

If your scans turned up clean, keep reading on to Step 7. Otherwise, get rid of those viruses!

7. Your Computer Could Have Memory Problems

When your computer keeps freezing, it could be a memory problem such as a faulty memory card. Luckily, Windows provides their own Windows Memory Diagnostic tool to troubleshoot issues like this.

To run a memory check, first press Windows Key + R to open up the Run window.

run window mdsched

Next, type in mdsched.exe and click OK.

Then, make sure all of your work is saved, and click Restart now and check for problems. Once you do this, Windows will restart and run a memory diagnostics test.

windows memory diagnostic

When your computer restarts and beings the test, press F1 to enter the scan options.

memory problems scan options

Make sure Standard is selected under Test Mix, Default is selected under Cache, and 2 is the value of Pass Count. Now, hit F10 to go back to the scan.

memory problems scan

Finally, go grab a cup of coffee or something while you wait for this scan to complete (it takes awhile). Afterwards, your computer will restart and show you the test results. If no problems are detected, try Step 8 to continue troubleshooting.

windows memory diagnostic complete

8. Your Computer Could Have Issues With System Files

Corrupted or missing system files could be why your computer keeps freezing. Just like Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, Windows also has their own tool called System File Checker to troubleshoot issues like this.

To run the System File Checker, first press Windows Key to search your computer. Type in command prompt, right-click Command Prompt, and click Run as administrator.

command prompt search

Next, type in sfc /scannow to begin the System File Checker scan.

sfc scan

Finally, wait until the scan is complete, and restart your computer to see if it worked. If not, don’t worry, we still have a few more tricks to try out.

9. Your Hard Drive Has Errors

This isn’t a very common reason for a computer freezing, but still worth checking out. Like the previous two steps, Windows has a built-in tool for for diagnosing hard drive errors called Disk Check.

To run a disk check, first, open up File Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E.

this PC properties

Then, click on This PC and look under Devices and drives. Right-click on the drive you want to check, and click Properties.

drive tools error check

After that, go to the Tools tab and click Check. Click Scan drive to begin the scan.

If the scan was successful, you should see this.

error checking success

If hard drive errors aren’t why your computer keeps freezing,
The issue could be power saving options in Windows.

10. Power Saving Options Are Making Your Computer Unstable

C-States (CPU States) are power saving modes for your CPU. C-States can do things like stop CPU internal clocks and reduce CPU voltage to save power. Although useful, disabling these power saving options are a good idea if they’re causing your computer to keep freezing.

First, you need to restart your computer and enter your BIOS. When prompted after restarting, press Del or F2 to enter your BIOS (some computers may have different keys but they usually tell you).

Note: Chances are your BIOS is different, so try to generally follow my instructions.

restart screen

Once you’re in the BIOS, look for something like Advanced Settings and click it.

BIOS main

Next, look for something like CPU Configuration and click it.

BIOS cpu configuration

After that, look for a setting like CPU Power Management and click it.

BIOS CPU Power Management

Finally, look for CPU C-States and set it to Disabled.

bios CPU c-states

Save your changes, exit the BIOS, and restart your computer.

Still not working? I have one final bonus tip if you have an SSD that might help you out.

Bonus Tip to Solve Computer Keeps Freezing: Windows Turned Off Your SSD

This is yet another power saving option in Windows that could be why your computer keeps freezing. Also, it only seems to affect SSD users.

To diagnose and fix this, first hit the Windows Key to bring up your computer search. Then, type in control panel and click on Control Panel.

control panel search

Next, click on Power Options.

control panel

Click on Change plan settings beside the plan that is already selected.

power options main

From here, click on Change advanced power settings.

power plan settings

Finally, navigate to Hard Disk -> Turn off hard disk after -> Setting and change it something ridiculously high like 9999999 minutes (so it effectively never turns off).

power options

Conclusion

Hopefully one of these fixes helped you answer your question of “Why does my computer keep freezing?” If not, be sure to let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help out! Also let me know in the comments if you have another method that’s not listed that you’ve used before to fix your computer randomly freezing.

About the Author

Tyler Sanderson

I'm a Canadian who is currently working at Google's NYC office as a software developer. I love board games, cooking, and learning about all things tech related.

Comments

  1. Exceptionally useful article. Don’t need it now, but will keep it for when I will. Many thanks.

    Let me add one more possibility to your list of ten: You Connected Something Wrong, Dummy.

    In brief: A sweet little old lady asked me to move her computer/printer/VOIP phone/modem so water damage could be repaired in her house. A couple weeks later the plumbers and carpenters are done and I return to set her office back up.

    The computer and VOIP phone power up fine but can’t connect to the internet. In fact, not only is the internet down but the computer locks up within a minute or so of booting up. Sometimes I have time to get into Task Manager, and when I do I see CPU usage is 99%, almost all of it by … system something, I think, but don’t hold me to it, I forget. It wasn’t of much help, except to tell me that unless I fixed the CPU usage, it wouldn’t be possible to investigate any further.

    After a half dozen reboots I decide to go back to square one and double check all my connections. (Layer one, networking techs know, is the cause of so many problems.) I quickly find … drum roll, please … an ethernet cable is connected to two of the four modem ports. (!) Oddly, the indicator lights at the modem ports for both ends were flashing green, ie, normal.

    Don’t know exactly why plugging a cable into two ports of a modem would cause the CPU to race, but as soon as I removed the cable, CPU usage dropped to under 5% and connection to the internet was there. Everything worked perfectly. Maybe I don’t know why plugging a cable into two ports would cause the CPU to race because no one’s ever done something so stupid before.

    In my defense, the lighting in the room was dim, and the cable went through a hole in the back of a cabinet. I’d stuffed a lot of cables through the hole and then reconnected them quickly. Too quickly.

    To summarize: Start over. Tear down the system as much as possible. (Remove printers, phones, cams, etc.) Connect one thing at a time until something breaks. Research and resolve that last thing you connected.

    (She never saw what I’d done and still thinks I’m a genius.)

    1. Author

      Wow Steve, I really appreciate your insightful and detailed comment! That’s quite an interesting story. It goes to show you how sometimes you really need to troubleshoot everything you can think of to find the solution.

    1. Author

      Hey Joddy, actually the bonus tip only seems to affect SSD users, not HDD users.

      I agree with you though, I also prefer SSD because I don’t like waiting over a minute for my computer to boot :).

  2. Thanks for the valuable advice, recently just after changing the paste on the cpu, the computer is a bit worse for me. I will try a few of your methods, but I think it will end with a renewed replacement of the paste and a decent format 🙂

  3. Thanks for the valuable advice, recently just after changing the paste on the cpu, the computer is a bit worse for me. I will try a few of your methods

  4. Greattt!!!! Its really great and very informative post. These are very common problem for many people. I also have to face these problems though I have 4 GB RAM with 1TB HD. It will be very useful to me. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I absolutely love the way you do your blogging, your dedication towards your passion and i am daily reader
    You are the inspiration. Keep up the good work.
    Thanks for guiding us for this informative articles.

  6. my device got slow after updating dont know why maybe i should reinstall the drivers btw thanks a lot

  7. some time ago my computer was performing very slow but now my computer is working very fast so thanks for sharing this information

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.