What to do if your Windows 10 computer stops responding

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Bernard Perron
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There's a reason Windows 10 is the last version Microsoft will ever release to the public: Windows 10 is faster, more secure, and more capable than any previous version. Instead of upgrading Windows to version 11 or 12, Microsoft moved to major updates with new features every six to twelve months, with bug fixes in several regular patches every few weeks.

Of course, just because Windows 10 is more stable than any previous version of Windows doesn't mean you won't experience problems while using your computer. Every operating system has its fair share of bugs and issues, and Windows 10 always falls into this category.

If your Windows 10 PC is freezing or unresponsive, you're probably at your wit's end. A computer that keeps freezing when you try to work is frustrating and can lead to lost data, time and productivity.

If nothing works on your PC until you restart, you're not alone. This is a common phenomenon and one you are going to want to correct. Instead of letting your computer keep freezing, speed up Windows 10 and get your computer back up and running in no time.

Windows 10 computer becomes unresponsive

A computer that freezes like this is usually a software issue. It is rarely hardware because it will cause the system to crash rather than hang. Overheating will cause the computer to shut down, hardware failure will usually cause a blue screen.

A RAM issue can cause a freeze, but it's rare. This is mainly due to the software. Either too many programs requiring resources, missing files, file corruption, system interrupts or CPU task queue crashes.

Before we move on to any long-term fixes, let's take a look at what you can do to make Windows respond.

Force restart your computer

Hold down the power button for several seconds until it turns off. Wait about 30 seconds before restarting it. For most problems, this will allow you to reboot quickly.

Open task manager

Using the key combination CTRL + ALT + Suppr open your task manager and force quit any open apps that are frozen. If an application encounters a serious error, it can cause your entire system to slow down.

Next, you'll want to perform some basic troubleshooting to determine and permanently fix the underlying reasons for your problems.

Troubleshooting in Windows 10

Fortunately, Windows 10 makes it easy to start the troubleshooting process. Once you have fixed the initial problem and your computer is responding, start the troubleshooting process. This is especially important if your computer has locked up more than once.

  1. First, check the options to resolve the detected errors. If one doesn't show up, go to your computer's settings and click help. If one is available, it will appear here.

Running the troubleshooter can speed up your solution by directing you directly to the problem. You can also try running your Windows 10 device in Safe mode to locate the problem. Safe Mode basically only runs native processes on your device. This means that if the computer keeps freezing, third-party software is causing the problem.

  1. Assuming your computer is not currently frozen, use the Win + R hotkey and type 'msconfig' and click Okay.
  2. Then check the box 'Safe start' box under the Boot tab and restart your computer. Upon restarting, your computer is in safe mode and you can begin to detect the software causing your freezing issues.

Check for changes in Windows 10

When Windows 10 computer stops responding for no reason, it is usually because something has changed. Before moving on to troubleshooting, have you made any changes recently? Added a new program? Installed new anti-virus or security software? Recently encrypted your hard drive? Did you make another important change? If so, that's the place to start.

If you made a change and your Windows 10 computer started to freeze, undo that change or remove the program. Restart your computer and see if it freezes again. If so, move on to these other troubleshooting techniques. If the computer no longer freezes, the change you made caused it. Investigate further.

Show running programs

Sometimes having too many browser tabs open or too many programs running at the same time can cause a Windows 10 computer to freeze. Windows is pretty good at sending apps to sleep, but this is not perfect.

  1. Right-click on an empty space on the Taskbar and select Task Manager.
  2. Keep it open on your desktop and monitor running programs.

Keep an eye on Task Manager and CPU usage. If you're lucky, you'll catch a program using your CPU when your computer freezes, or it freezes with Task Manager visible with the offending program in red. Remove or reinstall this program if there is one.

There may not be a resource hogging program, so if you don't see one, move on to the next task.

Find missing files

If your computer freezes while performing a particular task, such as word processing, video editing, or something else, that program may be causing the freeze. If you can identify a single program, uninstall and reinstall that program. A required file may have been corrupted or accidentally overwritten and is causing the crashes.

Delete the program and reinstall it to see if this is the case. First check that your data from the program will be preserved before deleting it!

File corruption causing Windows 10 to crash

Windows 10 tends to get dirty sometimes and needs a bit of work to get it back to normal. Some tools built into the operating system can help, SFC and DISM.

System File Checker, SFC, is a built-in tool that finds errors in Windows and fixes them automatically. DISM, Deployment Image Servicing, and Management can check Windows Store and Windows Update for errors. Both can be run from the command line.

  1. Right-click on the Windows Start button and select Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Type 'sfc /scannow' and press Enter. Wait for the verification to complete.
  3. Type 'dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth' and press Enter.

The two checks are completely separate, so you'll have to wait for SFC to finish before running DISM. You should see the progress on the screen as well as mentions of any errors or file issues detected by the tools. Both tools will automatically replace any corrupt or missing files, so once done, that's it for those.

Driver issues causing computer to stop responding

Drivers are another form of file problem. If Windows 10 checks went well, you can try reinstalling all your drivers. Since driver updates are always a good thing, it's still good practice. Here's how to achieve it.

  1. First, access the Gestionnaire de périphériques on your PC by right-clicking The Start menu and clicking on it.
  2. Then find the drivers you need to update or reinstall. Once you click on the driver, choose the 'uninstall device' from the drop-down menu.

Restart your computer and Windows will reinstall the drivers for you.

Reinstall or restore Windows 10

If none of these things work, your only real option is to reinstall Windows 10 or perform a system restore. Select a restore point before the freeze started or boot from your Windows 10 installation media and choose to reinstall while keeping your files and settings. Hopefully this should fix it!

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