Published May 24, 2019
Table of Contents
- 1. CPU Overloaded
- 2. CPU Using Too Much Memory
- 3. Ran Out of Storage Space
- 4. Computer Overheating
- 5. Driver Issues
- 6. Computer Virus
- 7. Memory Problems
- 8. System Files Issues
- 9. Hard Drive Errors
- 10. CPU C-States
- Bonus Tip
Are you tired of shouting “Why does my computer keep freezing?!” into the void? I’ve been through this myself several times, and have discovered many reasons why your computer keeps freezing.
More importantly, I’m going to show you how to fix this problem step by step. I’ve demonstrated the steps using Windows 10 but they should all work for Windows 7/8 as well.
Most Common Reason Your Computer Keeps Freezing: Your CPU is Overloaded With Too Many Programs
If your computer keeps freezing, the first thing to investigate should be whether it is overloaded with too many programs at once. If this happens, your computer won’t be able to keep up with everything going on and freeze randomly.
To see if this is the case, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open up your Windows Task Manager.
Make sure to click the CPU column to sort it in descending order. Now, you can see which processes are taking up the most CPU on your computer. Usually, for a computer to freeze because of this, the overall CPU being used will be over 99%.
To solve the issue right-click on the processes taking up the most CPU and click End Task.
If this doesn’t solve the issue, let’s move on to the next step to figure out why your PC keeps freezing. Keep your Windows Task Manager open.
2. Your Computer is Using Too Much Memory
A lack of available memory can also cause your computer to randomly freeze. Similarly to above, we’re now going to look at the Memory column in Windows Task Manager. If you closed it from last step, press Ctrl + Shift + Esc to open it up again.
This time you’re going to want to sort by Memory in descending order. Like for the CPU being overloaded, if your memory usage is over 99% your computer could freeze.
To solve the issue, like before, right-click on the processes taking up the most memory, and click End Task.
If CPU or memory usage isn’t the problem, keep reading to troubleshoot further.
3. Your Computer is Out of Storage Space
If you have no space on your hard drive, then your computer could run out of space for temp and system files. This is an issue and could be why your computer keeps freezing.
Open up File Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E.
On the left, click on This PC and look for Devices and drives. If your drives have no free space, try deleting some files to make some room. An easy way to do this is to delete temp files.
To do this, first press Windows key + R to open up the Run window.
Type in temp and click OK.
Press Ctrl + A to select all files, right-click, then click Delete.
To clean up more files that could be taking up too much space, check out CCleaner (it’s free).
If freeing up storage space didn’t do the trick, there could be other reasons why your computer keeps freezing.
4. Your Computer is Overheating
Normally overheating is associated with the CPU being overloaded, but this isn’t always the case. To see if this is the cause, download and install Core Temp to monitor your CPU temperature (don’t worry it’s free and completely safe).
Once you have Core Temp installed, open it up.
Look at the temperature readings when your computer keeps freezing. Generally speaking, high temperature spikes (over 80°C) could be the cause of random freezing.
For a more detailed overview of how to check your CPU temperature, check out our (older) article on checking processor temperature.
If your CPU temperatures look normal even when your PC keeps freezing, move on to Step 5.
If your CPU temperatures look high, common culprits could be:
- Not having proper ventilation: make sure your computer or laptop vents aren’t blocked (e.g. your computer is against a wall). This is especially true for laptops, since laptops have less ventilation.
- Fans aren’t running: open up your computer case and look to see if all the fans are running. If not, double check their connections to your motherboard.
- Heatsink is seated incorrectly: check out this video to see if your heatsink is seated in the same way.
- Heatsink thermal paste is worn away: check your heatsink and CPU to see if there is thermal paste on it. This is essential to cooling your CPU. If your thermal paste is worn away you should re-apply some, or take your computer to a professional.
In general, if you don’t feel comfortable trying to fix a hardware issue like this yourself, I highly suggest you take your computer to a professional who knows what they’re doing.
5. Your Drivers are Corrupted or Outdated
If your computer keeps freezing, it could also be caused by a driver related issue. For example, if there is an issue with your graphics card driver, your games can keep freezing.
To see if this is an issue, check your Device Manager. First, press Windows Key + R to open the Run window:
Next, type in devmgmt.msc and click OK.
If your Device Manager looks similar to mine, your drivers should be fine. Specifically, make sure there are no Other devices, Unknown devices, or Red Xs or Exclamation marks.
To double check, and to resolve any issues, try to identify any problems using this page.
Finally, try updating your drivers by following these instructions.
Turns out it’s not a driver issue that’s causing your computer to keep freezing? Good thing we still have some more things to try out!
6. Your Computer Could Have a Virus
Viruses can cause a lot of trouble to your computer. In fact, it’s not that uncommon for a virus to cause your PC to keep freezing.
If you don’t have an antivirus installed, you really should. I personally use Avira free version and run occasional scans with MalwareBytes free version. For other options, check out our post on the best free Windows antivirus.
To see if viruses could be causing your computer to randomly freeze, try running a scan with the antivirus software you have installed. Here’s an example for Avira:
Also for good measure I would run a scan with Malwarebytes after.
If your scans turned up clean, keep reading on to Step 7. Otherwise, get rid of those viruses!
7. Your Computer Could Have Memory Problems
When your computer keeps freezing, it could be a memory problem such as a faulty memory card. Luckily, Windows provides their own Windows Memory Diagnostic tool to troubleshoot issues like this.
To run a memory check, first press Windows Key + R to open up the Run window.
Next, type in mdsched.exe and click OK.
Then, make sure all of your work is saved, and click Restart now and check for problems. Once you do this, Windows will restart and run a memory diagnostics test.
When your computer restarts and beings the test, press F1 to enter the scan options.
Make sure Standard is selected under Test Mix, Default is selected under Cache, and 2 is the value of Pass Count. Now, hit F10 to go back to the scan.
Finally, go grab a cup of coffee or something while you wait for this scan to complete (it takes awhile). Afterwards, your computer will restart and show you the test results. If no problems are detected, try Step 8 to continue troubleshooting.
8. Your Computer Could Have Issues With System Files
Corrupted or missing system files could be why your computer keeps freezing. Just like Windows Memory Diagnostic tool, Windows also has their own tool called System File Checker to troubleshoot issues like this.
To run the System File Checker, first press Windows Key to search your computer. Type in command prompt, right-click Command Prompt, and click Run as administrator.
Next, type in sfc /scannow to begin the System File Checker scan.
Finally, wait until the scan is complete, and restart your computer to see if it worked. If not, don’t worry, we still have a few more tricks to try out.
9. Your Hard Drive Has Errors
This isn’t a very common reason for a computer freezing, but still worth checking out. Like the previous two steps, Windows has a built-in tool for for diagnosing hard drive errors called Disk Check.
To run a disk check, first, open up File Explorer by pressing Windows Key + E.
Then, click on This PC and look under Devices and drives. Right-click on the drive you want to check, and click Properties.
After that, go to the Tools tab and click Check. Click Scan drive to begin the scan.
If the scan was successful, you should see this.
If hard drive errors aren’t why your computer keeps freezing,
The issue could be power saving options in Windows.
10. Power Saving Options Are Making Your Computer Unstable
C-States (CPU States) are power saving modes for your CPU. C-States can do things like stop CPU internal clocks and reduce CPU voltage to save power. Although useful, disabling these power saving options are a good idea if they’re causing your computer to keep freezing.
First, you need to restart your computer and enter your BIOS. When prompted after restarting, press Del or F2 to enter your BIOS (some computers may have different keys but they usually tell you).
Note: Chances are your BIOS is different, so try to generally follow my instructions.
Once you’re in the BIOS, look for something like Advanced Settings and click it.
Next, look for something like CPU Configuration and click it.
After that, look for a setting like CPU Power Management and click it.
Finally, look for CPU C-States and set it to Disabled.
Save your changes, exit the BIOS, and restart your computer.
Still not working? I have one final bonus tip if you have an SSD that might help you out.
Bonus Tip to Solve Computer Keeps Freezing: Windows Turned Off Your SSD
This is yet another power saving option in Windows that could be why your computer keeps freezing. Also, it only seems to affect SSD users.
To diagnose and fix this, first hit the Windows Key to bring up your computer search. Then, type in control panel and click on Control Panel.
Next, click on Power Options.
Click on Change plan settings beside the plan that is already selected.
From here, click on Change advanced power settings.
Finally, navigate to Hard Disk -> Turn off hard disk after -> Setting and change it something ridiculously high like 9999999 minutes (so it effectively never turns off).
Hopefully one of these fixes helped you answer your question of “Why does my computer keep freezing?” If not, be sure to let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help out! Also let me know in the comments if you have another method that’s not listed that you’ve used before to fix your computer randomly freezing.
About the Author
I'm a Canadian who is currently working at Google's NYC office as a software developer. I love board games, cooking, and learning about all things tech related.