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Computer Crashes, Freezes, Stuck, Locked-Up

It’s a real irritation if your computer stops working when you are in the middle of doing something. It is even worse if you also lose what you were working on at the time, or it won’t start up properly afterwards.

Computer crashes have unfortunately become a fact of life when working with Windows-based PCs, although more recent versions of Windows are much less prone to these problems. If properly set up on good hardware, with appropriate updates and anti-virus precautions, there is little reason these days for Windows to crash.  However, there is always some risk of hardware failure, and external factors such as power, network or printers can sometimes cause crashes..

What are computer crashes, hangs and freezes?

Computer Crash. When people say their computer has crashed it can mean anything from a total failure resulting in the machine shutting down to a program that has stopped responding. In between these extremes it may be that a particular program has ended, with or without an error message. One particular circumstance is a Blue Screen Crash, otherwise known as the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) – this occurs when Windows encounters a low-level error with the machine hardware, for example with memory or disk. A blue screen crash (which can also be a black screen with white text) is invariably fatal and a restart will be forced.

Computer Hang, Freeze, Stuck or Lock-up. These expressions are usually taken to mean that something has stopped responding. It could be the whole machine, or just one program. This is not necessarily a fault within the PC. It could be caused by a program simply waiting for something external – for example for a printer, or a network response from elsewhere. Extreme slowness of a PC can also be mistaken for a freeze or hang.

What causes PC crashes, freezes, lock-ups and hangs?

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to this question. Some possible causes are listed below under the main headings that follow:

Hardware. Memory, processor, disk controller, and disk errors. Other components could also cause a crash, but these are the most likely.

Operating system. Operating system corruption, virus or malware attack, operating system error requiring service pack or hotfix to cure, driver error, configuration error.

Application software (programs). Programming error, data corruption, program or settings corrupted, incompatibility with operating system or other applications installed on the machine, virus or malware attack. Anti-virus or anti-spyware blocking.

Indirect causes. Classic indirect causes of crashes include operating system, settings or program corruption caused by disk or memory error.

External factors. Power loss or spike, attached peripheral device (eg printer, scanner), loose connections, network error, network device (server, router, internet) not responding or connection lost.

Fixing computer crashes and freezes

Because of the multitude of possible causes of computer crashes it is impossible to give an easy answer to how to fix them. It becomes a matter of working through the various possible causes to see what the problem might be. Sometimes one may be able to get clues from logs and messages, but often it comes down to a process of elimination.

Unless you can find the solution quickly you are probably best to call for specialist help.

If you have any questions or require advice on this topic, please Contact Us

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"... CBC in the form of Jim Symington have provided a helpful backup IT service and  been really flexible dealing with issues as they arise, ranging from building a backup server to dealing with the inevitable tweaks needed to keep a network running smoothly. It's been a great way of having support available for an organisation like RP Fighting Blindness which is too big to do without it but too small to merit employing a technician. Our network of 2 servers, 13 client machines and several peripherals runs smoothly as a result; this means that my team can focus on their work knowing they can rely on the system."
David Head - RP Fighting Blindess

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