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Computer Locks Up or Freezes (Windows 8)

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This document applies to HP and Compaq computers with Windows 8.
This document helps you find and troubleshoot problems that cause the computer to stop responding, hang, freeze, or lock up.
Symptoms include:
  • Windows stops responding and nothing moves on the computer display.
  • When using Windows, a blue screen error opens and you cannot continue.
  • The computer does not respond to input from the mouse or keyboard.
  • An error message opens, but does not go away and cannot be closed.
NOTE: If you are not using the latest version of Windows 8, some graphics and information in this document may vary. You can get the latest version from the Microsoft Store.

Before you begin troubleshooting a computer running Windows 8 that locks up or freezes

Before troubleshooting lock-up or freeze problems on your computer, check the following items for a better solution to specific symptoms:
  • To use this document you need to know how to restart the computer when the computer is locked-up. To restart the computer, press and hold the power button on the computer until the computer shuts down. After the computer shuts down, wait about 5 seconds before pressing the power button again to turn the computer on.
  • SCAN FOR VIRUSES . Get the latest virus definitions for your virus scanning software and scan the entire system for viruses (including USB storage devices that you connect to the computer). If you do not have virus-scanning software installed or your subscription has ended, install updated virus scanning software and scan the system.
    In addition, having more than one virus scanning software program installed can cause lock-ups. Restart the computer and uninstall all but one virus scanning software program.
  • If the computer locks up at random times or shortly after turning on the computer, the computer may be getting too hot or a hardware component might be failing.
    Use compressed air to keep the air passages in the system clean, free of dust and dirt. For more information, refer to Reducing Heat Inside the PC to Prevent Overheating for desktop computers, or Reducing Heat Inside the PC to Prevent Overheating for notebook computers.
    For more information about testing for a failing component, refer to Testing for Hardware Failures (Windows 8) for desktop computers, or Testing for Hardware Failures (Windows 8) for notebook computers.
  • Lock-ups can occur when graphic drivers and hardware cannot handle certain display situations. If lock-ups occur when changing display resolutions, when opening or playing a 3D video game, or when connecting a new monitor, restart the computer. When Windows opens, download and install the latest video driver. Refer to the HP Support page and look for a BIOS update, or check with the manufacturer of the hardware. If a BIOS update is available, download and install the update according to the instructions on the download page.
  • If lock-ups occur when using an external device, such as when printing or using a USB drive, turn off the printer or external device and unplug it from its power source for about ten seconds. Search the Internet or check the device manufacturer's support site to look for fixes. Too many USB devices attached to the same powered hub can cause lock-ups (this includes the USB ports on your computer). Power settings and returning from sleep mode might be related to the lock-up and disabling power settings might help. For general help with USB devices that lock up, refer to Troubleshooting USB Connections (Windows 8) .
  • If lock-ups occur when coming out of a sleep or suspend mode, restart the computer. Adjust the power settings and update the BIOS to fix this problem. For more information, refer to Resolving Problems with Sleep and Hibernate Modes (Windows 8) .
  • If an error message opens with the lock-up, write the error message down exactly as it appears. Restart the computer and search the HP Web site or the Internet using the exact text from the error message to find a solution.
  • For all other lock-ups or blue screens, continue to the next section.

Step 1: Unlocking the locked-up or frozen computer running Windows 8

Use the steps in this section when the lock-up occurs to try to close the blue screen error or frozen software program and to help find the cause of the lock-up:
  1. Before continuing, unplug all network cables from the back of the computer.
  2. Remove any discs from the CD/DVD drives by pressing the eject button on the computer.
    • If Windows becomes active again, clean, repair or replace the disc. Troubleshooting is complete.
    • If the lock-up or blue screen error persists, continue troubleshooting using these steps.
  3. While holding down the Alt key on the keyboard, press the F4 key to close the software program.
    • If Windows becomes active again, the problem is related to a software program. Save your work and restart the computer. Remember the name of the software program that stopped responding or caused the error. Update or remove software programs that continue to lock up. Troubleshooting is complete.
    • If the lock-up or blue screen error persists, continue troubleshooting using these steps.
  4. Press the Ctrl +Shift +Esc keys to open Task Manager.
    • If Task Manager does not open, refer to Using System Restore .
    • If Task Manager opens, continue to the next step.
  5. Write down the names of the software programs that have stopped responding.
    Figure 1: Not responding message in Windows Task Manager window
    Not responding message in Windows Task Manager window
  6. Click the software program that is not responding, and then click End Task .
    NOTE:If Explorer has stopped responding, click More details , then click File , Run new task . Type Explorer into the field and click OK to restart Windows Explorer.
  7. Continue clicking End Task for software programs that are not responding until all unresponsive software programs are removed from the list.
    Click a window outside Task Manager.
    • If Windows becomes active again, the problem is related to software. Save your work and restart the computer. Remember the name of the software programs that stopped responding. Update or remove software programs that continue to lock up. Troubleshooting is complete.
    • If the lock-up persists, continue troubleshooting using these steps.
  8. Look for processes that are causing the lock-up.
    1. In Task Manager, click More details , then click the Processes tab.
    2. Look in the CPU column. If the total CPU is showing 99% , find the App or process that is using the highest percentage. Write down the name of the App or process.
      Figure 2: Processes tab in the Task Manager window
      Processes tab in the Task Manager window
    3. Look in the Memory column for numbers that are increasing. If you find a number that is increasing, watch the number for ten seconds or more to verify that it continues to increase, and then write down the App or process Name.
    4. In the Name column, click the App or process you wrote down, and click End Task . Continue ending the process for each App or process that is associated with the lock-up.
  9. Click a window outside Task Manager.
    • If Windows becomes active again, the problem is related to software. Save your work and restart the computer. Remember the Image names that stopped responding. If Windows continues to lock up, update or remove software programs that are associated with the Image Names. Troubleshooting is complete.
    • If the lock-up persists, continue to the next section.

Step 2: Using System Restore to fix lock-up or freeze problems on a computer running Windows 8

System Restore can return the computer to a state where the lock-ups do not happen.
Use the following steps to use system restore:
  1. From the Start screen, type system to open the Search charm, and then select System in the Search results.
    Figure 3: Search results for system
    Search results for system
  2. Click System Protection .
    Figure 4: System window
    System window
  3. In the System Properties window, click System Restore .
    Figure 5: System Restore selection in the System Properties window
    System Restore selection in the System Properties window
  4. In the System Restore window, click Next .
  5. Select a date and time from the list of restore points that matches a date and time before the lock-ups started to occur.
    Figure 6: Restore point selection in System Restore
     Restore point selection in System Restore
  6. Click Next .
    The Confirm your restore point window displays.
  7. Click Finish , and then click Yes .
  8. The computer restarts automatically after the restoration completes.
After completing System Restore, the lock-ups should no longer continue. If lock-ups persist, try a different, earlier restore point. If the lock-ups still persist, continue to the next section.
NOTE:Lock-ups might occur again if the lock-up was caused by an automatic software update, such as software delivered through Windows Update or HP Update. If lock-ups occur again, continue to the next section to remove the most recently downloaded software update. Turn off the automatic software tool (Windows Update, HP Update, or other) and get the latest updates directly from the manufacturer's support Web site.

Step 3: Uninstalling software to fix lock-up or freeze problems on a computer running Windows 8

Certain programs, such as virus scanning software that you do not need, old versions of software, and software updates that were installed when Windows starting locking up, are associated with causing lock-up problems on computers. Removing these programs will often stop locking up and freezing problems.
Use the following steps to remove software:
  1. Press the Windows + I key.
  2. Hold the Shift key while you click Restart .
    Figure 7: Restart
    Restart
  3. Click Troubleshoot , then click Advanced options .
  4. Click Startup Settings , and then click Restart .
  5. Press the 4 key to restart the computer in Safe Mode.
    When the Windows desktop displays, Safe Mode is displayed in the four corners of the screen.
  6. From the Start screen, type programs and features to open the Search charm, and then select Programs and Features in the Search results.
    Figure 8: Search results for programs and features
    Search results for programs and features
  7. Select the software program that is causing the lock-ups and click Uninstall . View the date the software program was installed to help find software involved in the lock-up. If a software program was installed the same day the lock-ups started to occur, that program might be contributing to the lock-up.
    Figure 9: Programs and Features window
    Programs and Features window
  8. Follow the on-screen instructions to remove the software program.
  9. Continue uninstalling software in this manner until you have removed all the software associated with the lock-ups.
  10. Restart the computer normally into Windows 8.
  11. The lock-ups should no longer occur. If the computer continues to lock up, even after uninstalling suspect software programs and updates, continue to the next step.

Step 4: Finding more information about the software problem

If a software program consistently causes lock-up problems, deleting the program will fix the problem. However, if you want or need to keep the program on your computer, you can check the software manufacturer's Web site. Other people have probably reported the same problem and the manufacturer might have found a solution.
To search for possible solutions, follow these steps:
  1. Connect any network cables that were disconnected earlier.
    CAUTION:If antivirus software is not open, do not connect to the Internet until an antivirus software solution is applied.
  2. Go to Web site of the software program manufacturer and search their support sites for known solutions.
  3. If the software manufacturer Web site does not offer a solution, use the HP Search Web page, Microsoft Support search page (in English), or use your favorite search site to search the Internet for known solutions.
  4. If the problem still occurs, try updating the BIOS.

Step 5: Updating the BIOS

If lockups still occur, update the BIOS. HP releases BIOS updates that can resolve problems related to lockups. Refer to the HP Support page and look for a BIOS update. If a BIOS update is available, download and install the update according to the instructions on the download page.
If a BIOS update is not available or does not resolve the lockups, recover your computer.

Step 6: Recovering the computer

If no other troubleshooting steps were able to resolve the issue, use a system recovery as a last step. Performing a system recovery will recover all software on the computer back to its original configuration. For more information, refer to Performing an HP System Recovery (Windows 8) .