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We’ve been asked a number of times by many users, what should they do when the computer freezes and locks-up? Picture this, you are surfing the Internet, listening to music and maybe writing an email or two when all of a sudden your computer freezes up. You panic. You’re not sure what to do. You think, should I reach for the power button or call the helpdesk? Thankfully, there are a few great ways to fix a frozen computer and identify the problem at the same time.

Computer Problems

First and foremost, I never get tired of telling clients, backup, backup, backup! As a good rule of thumb, always save frequently and back up your work; especially if you are working on a large document or project. If the machine is running sluggish, but not yet frozen, there are several other ways to speed things up. But if your Mac or PC starts to slow down and its hard drive seems to stop altogether, follow our antifreeze recipe before forcing the computer to shut down (which should be a LAST resort, as you WILL probably lose your precious data!).

Here’s are some suggestions on what to do if your computer freezes…

First, during start up…

  • If your PC seems to take a long time, try to remove items in your StartUp folder and any other programs that are setup to “auto-start” on login
  • If you have a Mac and it delays for a second or shows a question mark when booting up, try going to System Preferences > Startup Disk > and select a disk, if there isn’t one already selected.
  • Try disconnecting everything that’s plugged into your computer. If your computer later starts up with no hubs, extension cords, USB, or Thunderbolt devices plugged in, one of those external devices was likely the culprit. If it is because of these plugged-in devices, then try installing the latest drivers for the device, or read its manual for troubleshooting steps.
  • If the Apple logo does not appear after powering on the computer, then force shut the device down and, when it starting up again, hold down the option key until disk icons appear. Select one of the disks (for now, it doesn’t matter). After the desktop is fully loaded, go to System Preferences > Startup Disk > and select a disk.

But what should you do when things get bad randomly or while running an application after the break.

If you’re running an application and the system seems to be unstable…

If you can see your cursor and it moves, then the sluggishness is caused by one single program.

  • On a PC, hit CTRL + ALT + Delete > End Task to force quit the application.
  • On a Mac, use one of these shortcuts:
    • To stop a process: command + period (.)
    • Open the Force Quit Applications window: command + option + escape
    • Sleep, restart, or shut down the computer: control + media eject key (shows a triangle with a bar below it)
    • Quit all apps and restart: command + control + media eject key
  • The issue may be recurring, in which case you should uninstall any app plug-ins or enhancements from other manufacturers. It may no longer be compatible with the application after a system update.

If it appears to be happening randomly… Sometimes the entire system locks up, or the cursor will not move or disappears altogether. If force quitting the applications and waiting doesn’t work, then shut down the computer by holding the power button.

  • On a PC, an important system document may have been corrupted or deleted accidentally. Go to Start > Accessories > System Tools > run the system restore utility. This will reset any registry issues without deleting any of your current files or personal settings.
  • Restart your Mac in “safe mode” to help diagnose the problem. After pressing the power button, wait for the startup tone, and then hold down the shift key. Let go of the shift key once the Apple logo and spinning gear appear.

Don’t forget to backup your data!

For more information or other tips, please click here to read the whole GeekSugar article…