PC Freeze Up?

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Lockups or Freeze ups...

Lockups or freeze ups are they a symptom of a virus, pending hardware failure, or both?

You click on an icon or a function for a program and nothing happens. In frustration you try the good '0l three finger salute to your PC (ctrl+alt+del keys) but nothing happens-

Lockups.

So still frustrated you power down your computer, opppppsss, you just lost all the work you had not saved.

Worse still you may have corrupted up your hard drive.

And you thought I was  having a bad day when I wiped my drive (see A Bad Day At ... ).

Let's give this a little thought before we actually do power down the computer and take a chance on corrupting the hard drive.

Some thing to remember about modern day Operating Systems (Windows, Apple, Linux) they all use a swap file, they all have open files while operating.

Thus if you just power down the computer those open files will become corrupt. Then your OS will not start.

So before you power it down try this:

Leave it alone for five to ten minutes, it may recover where you can do a normal shut down or it may allow you to get to the Task Manager (Windows) and see what program is hanging up then shut down that one program. Then you can do some troubleshooting to find out why it is hanging up or freezing.

What causes these hang-ups, freezes, or lockups anyway?

Different things will cause the computer to stop functioning or lockup:

  • Hardware problems
  • Virus
  • Corrupt files
  • Corrupt Registry
  • The programs are too new for the OS

Under the hardware problems for lockups you will find:

  • Hardware failure, this could be a USB port or device, memory, processor, or it could be over heating (normally an overheat situation will cause an immediate shutdown).
  • One of the biggest reasons for hang ups or freezing is not enough memory to do the task you have set for the computer. Adding system memory to avoid lockups is the cheapest way to take care of these problems.
  • Another reason for the computer to freeze up temporarily is that the Video Card doesn't have enough memory to render your graphics. This is very noticeable in older computers trying to run the latest and greatest games. (And on some systems the system memory is shared with the Video, namely laptops).

Under Virus, we all know about viruses, keep it updated! 'nuff said.

Under corrupt files, this one becomes serious on the third power down with out shutting the computer down gracefully by using the shut down command.

  • The first power down you usually can get by with out causing any problems. Why? With Windows OS's the main startup files and driver files are cached. If you have to power the computer down the OS will do a check sum on each file in the cache before loading it, if the check sum fails then the OS will load the file from the c:\windows\system32\ directory. But until you go into the "Safe Mode" and then you shut the computer down gracefully the files are NOT replaced.
  • On the second power down if the cache files were not refreshed then the files in the c:\windows\system32\  will become corrupt because they were open when you started the computer.
  • You don't get a third chance, the OS will not start.

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If you are experiencing lockups after the first power down on restart go into the "Safe Mode", this will give the Operating System time to replenish the driver cache  folder with files from the System32 folder which will not be corrupt (yet).

Under corrupt registry, this one is harder to pin down. When the OS starts it loads the registry in to memory and unless you install/uninstall hardware or software, or a search for an item, then the registry does not get written back to the hard drive. If you open the registry and do not change anything it still does not get written back to the hard drive. But if you change any keys then it gets written back to the hard drive. You can not open the registry files and do a save, you can however back them up.

So how does it become corrupt?

  • The registry could be come corrupt by a virus, the hard drive is failing, or opening the registry and making a change while the hardware is under heavy work load.

You can backup the registry either with the regedit or regedt32 programs or you can use a third party registry program such as a registry cleaner.  I recommend using the regedt32 program to make your backup and store it on a separate device.

(Be careful with the third party registry cleaners they may cause more damage instead of fixing the registry. I use Registry Fix! for my XP systems, I don't have a recommendation for Windows 7 at this time.)

The last one I ran in to with a Windows Seven program. I loaded a program for Windows 7 on my XP OS to check it out.

  • First the programmers messed up and did not have a check written in the program to see what OS was loaded on the computer (The program vendor is aware of this now).
  • Second I messed up because I knew it was a Windows 7 program but loaded it anyway.

Yup, it will lock up your computer. DOH!

P.S.

In most parts of the world you get more thunderstorms in the summer vs. winter. Thunderstorms cause power outages. If you can't power down your computer every time one comes up then I recommend you use a UPS.



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Lockups or freeze ups during normal operation are not common unless you have one of the above problems...





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