What should I do if a computer freezes or crashes?

Updated 7/6/2020

This page contains recommendations on what to do in the event of a computer freeze or deadlock. If your computer has stopped responding, follow these steps to try unlocking the computer.


Some programs have an automatic backup feature. If you were editing a document when you locked it, it can be recovered after restarting. If your program doesn’t have an autosave feature, you may lose any unsaved work due to a freeze or deadlock. It’s important to save your work frequently to minimize or avoid this possibility.

Give the computer time

Wait. Give the computer a few minutes to process. Sometimes a computer seems frozen, but it’s slow or busy processing a complex task.

Is the computer locked?

Computer keyboard lock LED

To see if the computer is responding, press the “Caps Lock” key on the keyboard and watch the “Caps Lock” LED (light) to see if it turns on and off. If the computer can turn Caps Lock on and off, continue to the next step. If nothing happens, the computer is frozen and you need to restart it.

End-of-task program not responding

If Caps Lock can be toggled on and off, Windows will still work, but another program may be unresponsive and causing the computer to hang. Press ctrlOldOf to open Windows Task Manager. If Task Manager can be opened, highlight the unresponsive program and select End Task, which should free up the computer again.

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It may take another ten to twenty seconds for the unresponsive program to complete after you choose End Task.

If the task manager opens but the mouse still doesn’t work, there may be a hardware problem.

Restart a frozen computer

If none of the above steps helped you, you need to restart the computer. To restart a frozen computer, press and hold the power button until the computer turns off. If the computer is off, wait a few seconds, then turn the computer back on and allow it to boot normally.


During the computer startup process, a screen may appear asking if you want to start the computer in Safe Mode or Windows normally. Select the Start Windows normally option and check if Windows starts correctly and without errors.

What happens to unsaved works?

Any unsaved work will be lost if a frozen computer needs to be restarted. In some situations, some programs will automatically save your work every few minutes. If the program you are using performs this action, you can restore the job to the last autosaved state.

Troubleshooting hardware or device drivers

If you have tried all the above steps and the computer still freezes, the hardware may be defective or the device driver is not working properly. A faulty hard drive, RAM key, graphics card or other hardware can cause the computer to freeze. A device driver can also cause a computer to hang if it is outdated, conflicts with another driver, or is not working properly.

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If you find faulty hardware causing the freeze, replace the hardware immediately to prevent further damage to the computer. If a device driver is faulty, download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website and install it before the computer freezes. Or use another computer to download the driver and try to install it on your computer.

If you are unable to install the latest driver before the computer crashes, another option is to start the computer in safe mode. Once you are in Safe Mode, you can go to Device Manager and uninstall the device corresponding to the device driver that is not working properly. Then restart the computer and load Windows normally. Windows should detect the uninstalled hardware and attempt to reinstall the device driver. This process may be enough to fix the problem and prevent further crashes. You can also try installing the latest driver at this point to ensure your computer is up to date for that device driver.

You can also try going into the computer’s BIOS and disabling faulty hardware to see if that prevents freezing. If it helps, consider replacing that hardware.

Other possible causes of computer freezing

For other possible causes and troubleshooting, visit our Windows freezes or stops responding frequently page.

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Take your PC to the repair shop

If the above options don’t work, we recommend that you take your computer to a computer repair shop and have a computer technician diagnose and fix the problem.