You’re in the middle of doing a sensitive task on your computer when the screen suddenly freezes, and nothing can help get the screen back.
If it happens once, it could be due to a minor glitch that goes away by restarting the system.
If it occurs repeatedly, you need to find the culprit.
Why Does My PC Freeze Randomly? (Causes, Fixes)
Insufficient or faulty RAM is one of the most frequent causes, while software and hardware issues can also cause your screen to freeze.
Screen freezing is also one of the most important signs of a failing hard disk.
You need to rule out each factor to find the main problem.
You should also keep your CPU temperatures in check because high temperatures can disturb the normal functions of your PC.
1. High CPU Temperatures
Computers run hot like any other electronics because their CPUs turn the electricity into other forms of energy, with heat as a byproduct.
That’s particularly the case when your computer is under heavy loads, like when you edit videos or play games.
However, CPUs have cooling systems that should prevent overheating if they’re running under the factory-recommended settings.
In addition, if your CPU gets too hot, the computer will shut down automatically to protect its components.
In other cases, it may just freeze.
How To Fix
At first, you should make sure that your CPU temperatures are beyond the recommended threshold.
Unfortunately, there are no built-in Windows utilities to help you monitor your CPU temps.
However, you can use reliable third-party tools such as Open Hardware Monitor.
It supports Intel and AMD CPUs and GPUs and gives you a real-time reading of core temperatures and other system info.
If you have an Intel processor, you can use Intel’s utility tool called XTU, which is an overclocking tool, but it also gives you the CPU temps readings.
You could also check CPU temperatures in the BIOS under sections named CPU temperature, H/W Monitor, or Status, and PC Health.
If the temperatures are between 70°C and 90°C, your computer is overheating.
However, it may also depend on the program you’re running.
If you’re overclocking or running CPU-intensive programs, these temperatures are fine and should go down after you stop these tasks.
However, if it doesn’t stop or the temps go over 90°C, you should take measures to cool your system down.
Here’s what to do:
A. Improve Airflow
Dust buildup is the most important factor that can cause computer temps to go up.
It acts like an insulator that stops the air from flowing freely inside the computer.
The first thing you should do is clean your computer’s internal components thoroughly.
Then, make sure the computer is in a place with ample airflow and avoid putting it inside cabinets or on the carpet.
B. Check Cooling Systems
Every computer has different solutions to make sure the innards are kept cool.
These include case fans, CPU fans, GPU fans, and the heatsink connected to the CPU via a layer of thermal paste.
If any of these elements are faulty, your computer will overheat.
Inspect all these components and change or repair the fans or reapply thermal paste if required.
2. Faulty Hard Disk
Random crashes and freezing are the classic signs of hard disk failure.
You may also experience bad sectors, Blue Screen of Death, or unusual sounds coming from the disk.
A hard drive is subject to wear and tear because of its mechanical platters that spin to store data.
While this wear and tear can’t be a serious issue, it can lead to hard disk failure in the long run.
How To Fix
Before fixing the issue, you should first make sure the hard disk is actually failing.
You can run the Command Prompt in Windows to check your hard disk health.
Here’s how to do it:
Open Command Prompt by typing “command” in Cortana’s search box and click on the first result.
Type wmic diskdrive get status in the command prompt window, and press Enter.
If your hard disk is healthy, you’ll get an “Ok” status.
Otherwise, you’ll see Pred Fail, indicating an error or multiple errors with the disk.
In such a case, you should try another Windows tool to see if you can resolve the issues.
The CHKDSK is Windows built-in tool to identify and fix hard disk issues.
Open Command Prompt again.
Right-click on the command prompt icon and select Run as administrator.
Type in CHKDSK C: /x /r and press Enter to start scanning for and fixing issues and removing bad sectors.
If your hard disk has issues that the CHKDSK can’t fix, you should consider changing your hard drive because it may fail soon.
Get a backup of all your data on a reliable external device before replacing the hard drive.
You could also try defragging the hard disk and see if it helps.
Windows has a built-in defragmentation tool that scans and optimizes your disks and drives.
Type defrag in Cortana’s search box and press Enter.
If any of your drives need defragmentation, its status will read “Needs optimization.” Select the drive and hit “Optimize.”
3. Update Drivers
Outdated drivers can cause conflicts among apps, leading to random freezes and crashes.
You can rely on Windows regular updates to ensure all your system components are running on the latest versions.
In addition, you can update each driver individually to make sure everything is up-to-date.
You can go to Device Manager, right-click on each driver, and click Update driver.
4. Too Many Temp Files
Temp files facilitate and speed up data transfer and help your apps run smoothly.
Every app and program creates its own temp files and cleans them after it ends.
However, they may not get deleted and stay in your system permanently.
Although these files don’t harm your system, they can take up huge chunks of your disk space and slow down your system or lead to random freezes.
Clearing up these files can help free up disk space and help your system increase its processing speed.
How To Fix
Clearing up temp files is a straightforward process because they’re stored in the Temp Folder.
Open the Run box by pressing the Windows key and R together to locate this folder.
Type temp in the box and hit Enter.
You can see all the files inside the temp folder and choose to delete all of them or selected files that you’re sure you don’t want.
Before deleting these files, close all programs running in the background.
Otherwise, you can’t delete the files belonging to those programs.
After selecting the files, press Ctrl + D to start deleting the items.
Alternatively, you could use the Disk cleanup tool to get rid of junk files.
Type disk cleanup in the search box and press Enter to open it.
You can select the drive for which you want to delete the files and press Ok.
Select the files you want to delete and hit Ok.
You’ll get a prompt to confirm the cleanup, and after that, the tool will permanently remove these files.
5. Insufficient RAM
Your computer’s RAM is responsible for getting files from the hard disk and storing temporary files to help programs run faster.
Your system should have enough RAM space to store these files and run smoothly.
Otherwise, you’ll experience random freezing, rebooting, lags while typing, and programs not responding.
How To Fix
If you have insufficient RAM, the best way is to upgrade it.
To make sure, you can check RAM usage in Task Manager.
Press Ctrl + Shift + Esc and click on Task Manager.
Under the Performance tab, select Memory and see how much of your RAM is in use.
If it’s more than 85%, you need to upgrade your RAM.
You could increase your RAM capacity either by adding more RAM sticks or getting a higher-capacity RAM stick.
Check the number of RAM slots and see if there are any free slots.
If you have empty slots, you can get a new RAM stick compatible with your system.
Otherwise, you should replace the current RAM with higher-capacity sticks.
If your RAM isn’t upgradable, you need to take measures to take the load off your memory.
For example, close unwanted tabs on your browser or apps that you don’t need, instead of minimizing them.
6. Faulty RAM
As mentioned, RAM is an essential PC component that can significantly affect the performance of your system.
If your RAM is faulty, Windows can’t store its temporary data properly, so it can’t retrieve it effectively.
As a result, you’ll experience different issues, including crashes, freezing, data corruption, and even a blue screen of death.
How To Fix
Before changing your RAM sticks, you need to make sure it’s faulty using Windows built-in Memory Diagnostic Tool.
Open the tool by typing “Windows Memory Diagnostic” in the search box.
When you launch the tool, you’ll receive a message prompting you to reboot your system so that the tool can start scanning.
It’s the recommended procedure, but you can also get Windows to check the RAM health the next time you start your computer.
Before restarting your computer, make sure you’ve saved your work and click on the option to restart the system.
When your computer boots up, the Windows Memory Diagnostic Tool window will open, and you can see the scanning process.
After the scan is complete, you can see if there are any faults with your RAM.
If your RAM is faulty, you should replace it, but you should first contact your manufacturer if your RAM is still under warranty.
Otherwise, you can open your computer case, replace the RAM with a stick you know is working, and see if it resolves the issue.
If you have two RAM slots, you can switch the RAM sticks between the slots to find the main culprit.
7. Viruses And Malware
If you don’t practice cyber hygiene, your computer may get infected with viruses.
Malware can cause a wide range of issues in your system, with random freezing being one of the most frequent ones.
In addition to being cautious about what you download or click on, you should also have a powerful anti-virus tool.
Run a virus scan to detect and delete these viruses and see if it helps.
8. Corrupt Or Missing System Files
System files are essential files, such as hardware drives or DLL files, on which Windows relies to operate smoothly.
If these files get corrupted or go missing, the system can’t operate, and experience crashes and freezing.
While all types of files can get corrupted, the operating system’s files can cause different issues if they get damaged.
Different factors can lead to corrupted system files, including virus infections, power outages while the computer is in use, update errors, and hardware issues.
How To Fix
Since files getting corrupt is common in Windows, it has a built-in tool to help you repair these files.
The System File Checker is a tool that restores missing system files and fixes the corrupted ones to help your system run smoothly.
Here’s how to run the SFC:
Type cmd in the search box and right-click on the first result, Command Prompt.
Select “Run as Administrator.”
Type in the following command to start scanning for corrupt files:
After you press Enter, Windows starts searching for corrupt or missing system files and repairs them.
The process may take a while, so be patient and don’t close the window, as it will stop the scanning process.
If you see a message like, “Windows Resource Protection did not find any integrity violations,” your files weren’t corrupted, and the freezing issue has another underlying cause.
However, if Windows finds corrupted files, you need to make sure it has repaired all of them.
To do so, you can check the SFC file log and see what actions have been taken.
Open the command prompt and enter findstr /c:”[SR]” %windir%\logs\cbs\cbs.log >sfcdetails.txt.
This command opens a log file folder on your desktop, and you can open it to see the actions.
9. Faulty Programs
When Windows freezes, a faulty program is a culprit in most cases.
It may have crashed or has corrupted underlying processes that prevent it from running.
It could also be due to a conflict with other software.
That’s especially the case if you’ve recently installed a new program and the freezing issue started afterward.
How To Fix
Finding the culprit isn’t difficult in this case.
If you suspect a specific program, try disabling it and see if it helps.
In other cases, you can use the Task Manager to find this conflicting program.
Run the Task Manager by pressing Alt + Ctrl + Del, and go to the Performance tab.
Look at the programs and look for any abnormalities in the values listed for CPU or memory usage.
Close the problematic programs and see if it helps.
Alternatively, you can use the System Restore to turn your system back to a previous configuration.
This way, you can also overcome conflicts other than faulty programs, including problematic system or driver updates.
To use System Restore, you should have activated it before and assigned restore points.
Go to Control Panel > Recovery > Configure System Restore.
If you haven’t set a restore time, you can do it now.
Click on the intended drive and select Configure.
Turn on System Restore and set a date to roll back your system.
Now, click on the System Restore button and select a date and time.
Follow the on-screen prompts to restore your system to a previous date successfully.
10. Faulty Operating System
If there’s an unknown fault with your Windows, it may also lead to crashes and freezes.
Hardware and software issues can cause these problems and prevent Windows from starting or functioning normally.
As a result, you may experience frequent crashes.
How To Fix
You can make sure your Windows is running healthy by trying another operating system.
Use a Live Linux CD, boot your system on Linux, work with the OS, and see if the freezing occurs.
If it doesn’t, your Windows is faulty, and you should change it.
If the system freezes with the new OS, it could be a hardware issue.
Your motherboard, CPU, PSU, and even GPU can be at fault.
You may be able to detect the culprit by running the troubleshooter.
Otherwise, you’ll need to take it to a technician.
However, remember that a hardware component doesn’t need to be failing to cause such freezing issues.
Sometimes a component that’s not seated properly can create a wide range of problems.
Before replacing any component, try reseating your CPU, GPU, or motherboard or reconnecting the PSU cables to see if it helps.
Even a faulty or improperly plugged mouse can cause these issues.
11. Browser and Network Issues
If your computer freezes when you open a browser, it could be due to different reasons.
Insufficient RAM is the main culprit, but full browser cache and faulty network settings can also be possible reasons.
You can solve RAM problems by following the steps outlined above.
How To Fix
You can fix the browser issue by clearing its cache.
Every browser has different settings to clear the cache.
For example, in Chrome, you can go to its settings by clicking on the three vertical dots on the top right corner and selecting More tools > Clear browsing data.
You can choose which data to clear and see if it helps.
To clear the cache for Firefox, click on the three horizontal lines on the top right and select Settings.
Go to Privacy and Security > cookies and site data > Clear data.
Choose cached web content and click on the Clear button.
You could also uninstall and reinstall the browser and see if that solves the freezing issue.