All computer users rely on the good old restart to clear their systems of temporary bugs and glitches, helping their PCs run smoothly.
There is nothing more annoying than seeing your computer keep restarting for no apparent reason.
It can be alarming, and you may wonder what could be behind these restarts.
Although a wide range of issues can cause the computer to restart randomly and continuously, it’s easy to identify the culprit.
Computer Keeps Restarting (Causes, Fixes)
1. Hardware Issues
When the computer keeps restarting, hardware and software issues may be the culprit.
You may experience this constant restarting at different stages, helping you narrow down the possible issues.
For example, if your PC restarts before the Windows logo appears, you can rule out software-related problems because your OS doesn’t even load.
The main culprit is most likely hardware-related and doesn’t allow Windows to boot up.
Identifying the problematic hardware component may take time and effort because just about any component inside the PC can prevent it from booting normally.
If you’re lucky, your computer will help you identify the cause through the beep codes it produces upon startup.
Every manufacturer has different beep code sequences to signify a specific issue.
You can search your PC brand and see what the beep code indicates.
You may also be able to identify the issue if you get past the POST and see the POST screen.
In such cases, the system will tell you where the problem is and how you can fix it.
Otherwise, you can pinpoint the cause by following the signs and checking the components physically.
Below are the main components that could cause the computer to restart constantly.
A. Reset Button
Some older desktop PCs have a separate restart button under or next to the power button.
It’s used to restart the PC if it’s not operational and you can’t access the display.
If the button is stuck or faulty, your PC will repeatedly restart until you power it off.
How To Fix
Make sure the reset button is functional and not stuck by inspecting it carefully and looking for sticky gunk around the button.
You can dip a Q-tip in rubbing alcohol and run it around the button to ensure it’s not pressed.
Alternatively, you could use a toothpick and move it around the button to scratch off dirt and grime.
If it doesn’t help, you can disconnect the reset button from the motherboard and see if it helps.
All your PC components, including RAM, CPU, and GPU, need enough power to turn on and operate smoothly.
While dedicated GPUs may have their own power supplies, other components rely on the power supply unit for power.
As a result, a faulty PSU can prevent your components from getting enough power, making the PC restart repeatedly.
How To Fix
You can ensure the PSU runs functionally through different methods, but they all require utmost care and technical knowledge.
If you’re technically savvy, you can do the paperclip test.
This test lets you jumpstart your PC and see if it turns on normally.
To perform the paperclip test, turn off the PC and the PSU by switching off the button on the back of the case.
Disconnect all power cables from the PC and PSU, only leaving the main cable and the 24-pin cable connected to the PSU.
Count the pins on the 24-pin cables from the left to identify pins 4 and 5.
Bend a paperclip into a U shape and insert one end into pin 4 and the other into pin 5.
Now, turn on the power supply unit and see if the computer turns on without restarting.
If you don’t feel comfortable with the paperclip test, you can switch your current PSU with a spare one and see if it solves the restarting issue.
Ensure the spare PSU is functional and matches your system specs regarding the required wattage to supply enough power to all components.
The number of pins also determines if it matches your system since there are 4-pin, 8-pin, and 16-pin PSUs.
If your PC starts normally with the new power supply, you may want to get a new one.
Note. While checking the power issues, you may want to ensure the PC gets enough power from the main outlet.
Plug the power cable into another outlet, preferably a wall outlet, to rule out the insufficient power supply.
C. Faulty RAM
The random-access memory plays a crucial role in booting your system.
It stores a temporary version of the OS to help the CPU process data faster.
If the RAM sticks are faulty or not seated firmly in their slots, you’ll experience system failure.
RAM slots may also be faulty and unable to make an effective connection.
How To Fix
The only way to ensure your RAM is healthy is to check it physically.
The process can be lengthy depending on the number of slots and sticks since it involves lots of mixing and matching.
Open the computer case after turning off the PC and draining the static charge by pressing and holding the power button.
Locate the RAM sticks near the CPU and take them out.
Make sure the slots are clean, and there’s no dust buildup.
Simultaneously, you can test the RAM sticks’ health by inserting one RAM stick at a time and turning on the PC.
Rule out the possibility of faulty RAM slots by inserting a RAM stick that you’re sure is functional and matches the motherboard’s DDR version in one slot at a time and turning on the PC.
If the RAM sticks are dead, you should replace them, but faulty RAM slots mean you will need to replace the entire motherboard.
D. Bad Or Incompatible GPU
If you’ve added a new GPU to your rig, it may be incompatible with your OS version or system specs.
A dedicated GPU isn’t essential in booting up the PC, but the lack may make the system unstable if it’s bad or incompatible.
How To Fix
If you have a dedicated GPU, you must have an onboard graphics card on the motherboard, but it’s disabled to make the entire system run on the external GPU.
You can make sure the underlying cause isn’t the external graphics card by removing or disabling it and enabling the onboard GPU.
You can do this on the hardware and software levels.
If your case is open, you can disconnect it from the PCI-e slot and the PSU.
You can also disable the dedicated GPU through the Device Manager (if your computer boots up and allows you to access the interface).
Go to Device Manager by typing it in the search box and expand the menu under Display adapters.
Right-click your dedicated GPU and select Disable device.
Now, you can enable your inboard graphics card through the same menu under Display adapters.
Right-click it and select Enable device.
Next, connect your monitor to the graphics card through the motherboard’s graphic port.
It’s above the PCIe slots, and you may need an HDMI, VGA, or DisplayPort cable depending on the PC model.
If the PC doesn’t restart after disabling the graphics card, it may be faulty, and you should troubleshoot it.
You can test the card on another PC and see if it works on the new rig.
Alternatively, you could connect the graphics card to your current PC through a different PCIe slot if your motherboard design allows it.
E. Overheating Hardware
Heat is the number one enemy of your hardware, which is inevitable but manageable.
High temperatures can reduce the hardware’s lifespan if they exceed the allowed threshold.
Windows has a thermal throttling solution that reduces the performance of your system or shuts the entire system down to avoid the temperature from going over this threshold.
If your computer restarts when you play games or perform intensive tasks, it’s a surefire sign that your computer is overheating.
How To Fix
Your computer has different cooling components, including the CPU, GPU fans, and heatsink.
It also has vents on different parts of the case panels to send out hot air.
You should inspect these components to ensure the internal parts are getting enough cool air.
Start by checking the vents and fans for signs of dust buildup and cleaning them thoroughly.
Then, move on to the CPU and see if the heatsink is seated properly on the CPU.
If the heatsink slides away from the CPU even slightly, it can’t dissipate heat effectively, heating the processor quickly after you turn on the PC.
Depending on your motherboard and CPU model, you may need to inspect the pins or thermal paste that connect the heatsink to the CPU.
You must change the heatsink if the pins have broken or eroded, but reapply the thermal paste if it’s come off.
F. CMOS Battery
If your computer restarts before the BIOS boots, the CMOS battery may be the culprit.
This is a flat, round battery, resembling a watch battery, and ensures the BIOS has enough power even when your PC is off or unplugged.
If the CMOS battery doesn’t work, you may experience issues while booting up, the peripherals may become unresponsive, the hardware drivers may disappear, or you can’t connect to the internet.
If you experience any of these issues in addition to the constant restarting, you can be sure that the CMOS battery is the cause.
How To Fix
Resetting the CMOS battery may help you stop the reboot loop.
It’s simple and only involves taking it out and putting it back in.
Finding the CMOS battery is easy because of its peculiar appearance and location.
Turn off the computer, drain the remaining charge, open the case, and ground yourself.
Look for a flat battery near the motherboard.
Reseat the battery and see if it helps.
If it doesn’t, you may need to replace the battery.
G. Newly Added Hardware
If you’ve recently added new hardware or peripherals, they may wreak havoc in your system if they’re not compatible with other hardware and the entire PC specs.
RAM sticks should be in the correct channel and order.
For example, if you have dual-channel RAM, you should insert them in the first and third slots.
Try removing the new component and see if it helps.
H. Defective Hardware
While checking and reseating the main components, including the CPU, GPU, and PSU, it’s also a good idea to test all the connections, wires, and minor components.
Look for signs of damage like frayed wires, bulging batteries, domed capacitors, or stuck fans.
You may also want to disconnect all the peripherals, USB-connected devices, including flash drives, and start the PC with the minimum connected devices possible.
If it doesn’t restart, you should find the culprit by connecting one device at a time.
2. Software Issues
Problematic and conflicting software can also result in system instabilities, making your computer restart often.
If you can boot the computer and it reboots randomly while in the middle of a task, a software issue is the most likely cause.
Here are the main culprits.
A. Wrong Game Settings
If your computer restarts when you play a game, it may be too much of a burden for your system hardware.
Your system may not meet the minimal requirements for the game and can’t handle its demands.
Double-check the minimum and recommended requirements for the game and see if you can upgrade your specs.
You could also change the in-game settings and play your game with lowered settings like FPS.
Turn off features like anti-aliasing and stop overclocking to avoid taxing your PC.
B. Wrong Power Settings
Windows has a built-in power management setting that allows you to adjust power usage based on the programs.
If you have a laptop, you can use the Power Saver plan to increase your battery life by lowering screen brightness, reducing CPU usage and speed, and tweaking other settings.
On the other hand, you can increase your system performance by choosing the High Performance mode to run your CPU at the maximum speed.
Since these plans are a series of settings, they may affect your system’s performance in different ways, one of which can be random and constant restarts.
How To Fix
The best way to take full advantage of Windows power plans is to use the Balanced mode.
This is the default mode recommended by Windows because it automatically reduces or increases the CPU speed based on the application.
In addition, you don’t need to change these plans if you don’t use demanding software.
To change your power plans, right-click the Start button and select Power Options > Additional Power Settings.
If you can’t find it, go to Control Panel > Power Options.
If the Selected plan isn’t Balanced (Recommended), click Create a Power Plan and select it from the list of plans.
If your current power plan is Balanced, but you’ve changed its settings before, you can click the Change plan settings link and return them to the default settings by selecting Restore default settings for this plan.
C. Outdated Drivers
Your hardware drivers are crucial in running your system smoothly because they facilitate communication between hardware and the operating system.
If you have a new hardware component, it has to have updated drivers.
On the other hand, outdated drivers can cause serious problems with hardware and software.
You should always ensure you have the latest driver versions by going to the Device Manager, right-clicking the driver, and selecting Update Driver.
D. Automatic Restart
Automatic restart is a Windows native feature that, as the name suggests, automatically reboots the computer when it detects a hardware or software problem.
Disabling the feature doesn’t solve the underlying issue but allows you to receive error messages telling you where the problem is.
When the feature is enabled, the computer will restart without telling you what went wrong.
How To Fix
To disable the automatic restart feature, right-click the Start menu and select Settings.
Go to System > About and select Advanced system settings on the right side of the window.
Under Startup and Recovery, select Settings and go to System failure.
Uncheck Automatically restart and hit Ok.
You may also want to enable Write an event to system log to keep a record of the problem when it occurs.
E. Virus Infections
Although Windows has a powerful native antivirus, the Windows Defender, your computer may still get infected.
Malware and viruses can damage your system differently, manifesting in random reboots.
Running a complete system scan with a reliable antivirus tool is a good idea to remove the virus.
F. Software Conflicts
When you install new software, you can experience a wide range of problems if it’s incompatible with your hardware or clashes with other software.
Some third-party programs may cause system inabilities and force your computer to restart randomly.
How To Fix
If your problem started just after installing a new program, it’s most likely the cause.
Uninstall the program and see if it helps.
However, if you don’t know which program is causing the issue, you can rely on other solutions to detect it.
Running the PC in Safe Mode is a great diagnostic tool to help narrow down your problem.
It runs your system with basic programs, drivers, and settings.
If the problem goes away, you can be sure that the issue is software-related and enable the programs one by one to identify the culprit.
Here’s how you can enable Safe Mode from different settings.
Windows has a great troubleshooting tool that lets you see a full log of all events and detect the problematic ones.
Type Event viewer in the taskbar’s search box and press Enter.
Go to Windows logs > Systems/Application.
On the right side, click Filter current log and select Warning, Critical, and Error.
Now, you can see the problematic events and their date and time.