I have worked with many clients and one problem I have consistently noticed on Windows is random freezes. It doesn’t seem to matter which program you run, how long Windows is running or whatever, Windows will just randomly freeze and you will have to either kill your computer or perform some other unwanted action to restore and start the system. Some people had computers freezing 10 to 20 times a day!
Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to the freeze problem. Firstly, it can be caused by different problems depending on your computer. Secondly, it depends on what level of freezing you are experiencing. Accidentally freezing once a month is definitely a different problem than 10-20 freezes a day.
In this article, I will try to help you fix the problem with various solutions that I have used over the years. If none of them worked for you, or if you have another solution, leave a comment here!
Check the event log
The first thing to do is try to check the event log and see if there are any events in the system or application log that might help you identify the problem. Look for the yellow exclamation mark and red x icons around the time the computer is frozen.
Often times, you may not see anything useful in Event Viewer because if the computer freezes, events may never be logged. So it’s useless, but depending on whether your random freezes are caused by software or hardware, you may or may not see some useful event logs.
If you see something useful, but do not understand what it means, post the contents of the journal here and we will try to help you!
Memory, memory and memory
If you get a lot of random freezes and you are sure that the problem is not with Windows (you just installed a fresh copy, etc.), check your computer memory. This has been the culprit many times and is very difficult to spot.
There are several things to pay attention to when checking memory. First of all, it’s good to make sure the memory isn’t bad. You can do this by downloading Memtest86, burning the ISO to a CD, booting your computer and running diagnostics. If any errors occur, be sure to replace the faulty memory chips.
If there are no errors, that’s good, but that doesn’t mean that there are no problems with memory. The next thing you need to check in memory is type, speed, voltage, etc. Why is this important? Well, your motherboard may have certain memory settings, and if the installed memory chips are running at a different speed, voltage, frequency, or timing, it can cause all sorts of random Windows freezes.
Your best bet is to find your motherboard and memory documentation, go into the BIOS, and adjust your memory settings as per your motherboard’s recommendations. This is called the QVL (Qualified Supplier List). The motherboard manufacturer will provide a list of memory brands and part numbers that will work with each specific motherboard. Your best bet is to take one from this list.
If not, you can still try changing the settings manually. For example, one client had an issue where the DRAM frequency of his memory was 1333, but the motherboard documentation recommended 1066. He was able to configure this in the BIOS, and his computer started working normally again, no freezes!
Finally, make sure your memory is properly allocated in the memory slots. It’s amazing how a slightly loose memory chip can wreak havoc on your system.
Disable USB, network and other devices
If you have an ASUS or Gigabyte motherboard there seems to be a lot of issues with Windows 7 64-bit. Users reported that disabling certain hardware components fixed the problem. Obviously, disabling USB ports is not the best option, but you can at least try it and see if that’s the problem. Try to disable whatever you can, including the network card, card readers, other ports, etc.
You can also go to the Device Manager from the Control Panel and disable the hardware there if you do not understand how to do this in the BIOS.
Update drivers, BIOS, and Windows updates
While this does not work in most cases, it does help in some. Update all drivers for all hardware on your computer, including your hard drive, network card, sound card, video card, and everything else. It is best to go to your computer manufacturer’s website and download all the latest drivers from there.
It is also recommended that you update your BIOS to the latest version, especially if you are running 64-bit Windows. Sometimes it helps to fix power problems caused by ACPI, etc.
Finally, it’s a good idea to download the latest updates from Windows Update. Microsoft has been aware of this issue for a long time, especially when it is hardware related, and has been releasing fixes for some time now. You might be lucky and it will just disappear after the update.
Install Microsoft Hotfixes
In addition to installing what you get from Windows Update, such as Windows 7 SP1, you should also install any relevant patches that Microsoft releases to fix specific issues. You can check this link to see the list of post-SP1 fixes:
Go through and try to install any fixes that you think might be applied to your system. Some people had to install 15 to 20 patches and then their systems started working fine. Microsoft usually packs all these fixes into a service pack, but there hasn’t been another release since SP1, so you’ll have to manually find and install these fixes.
Uninstall third-party software
From a software standpoint, if your computer freezes up, it could be due to a third-party program, such as an anti-virus program or an anti-spyware application. I’ve seen a lot of freezes when some users use AVG or ZoneAlarm on their systems, but it could be any software.
If your system was working fine until recently, go back and see what programs you’ve recently installed and uninstall them. Some programs just don’t work with 64-bit Windows and end up causing a lot of problems. If you have a high-performance system with top-notch specs, this could very well be due to lousy software that was not written for 64-bit and therefore runs in 32-bit mode.
To rule out any problem with Windows system files, boot from DVD and run Startup Repair. After downloading the tool, you can perform a Startup Repair, try System Restore, or go to Command Prompt. From the command line, you can try a couple of commands:
chkdsk drive: / r sfc / scannow
For chkdsk, simply replace the word “drive” with the letter of the drive you want to scan, such as C:, D :, etc. The sfc command is a system file checker that will run and fix any problems with a corrupted or missing system. files. Basically, you need to run Startup Repair, try System Restore, and run those two commands from the command line.
Perform a clean boot
Again, if it’s a software issue, a clean boot can help you track down the problem. You can read this article on the Microsoft website on how to do a clean boot:
This is a really useful way to diagnose a software problem, especially if it is related to a service running on Windows.
Adjust the power settings
Windows has some advanced power settings that can also cause more problems than good! Go to Control Panel, Power Options and click Change Plan Settings next to your selected power plan.
Now click on “Change advanced power settings”.
Now scroll down and disable the USB Selective Suspend option and the PCI Express – Link State Power Management option.
Make sure they both say “Off”. Go ahead and try restarting your computer and see if the problem is resolved. You can also try disabling other power saving features as some have succeeded. For example, you can change the shutdown time of hard drives to a much longer time.
This covers all the problems I encountered that caused freezes on Windows 7/8/10. I’m sure there are many more, so if your computer freezes and none of these solutions solved your problem, post your computer specifications and any other important information here and we’ll try to help! Enjoy!