Frequently Asked Questions Q: Why do computers lockup or stop responding?A: During the normal operation of most computer systems, memory and software conflicts can potentially cause your computer system to stop responding. When this occurs you will lose control of the program running and your computer keyboard and mouse may become non-responsive. You can also lose any unsaved information in the program you were working on.
How to Get the Computer Running Properly After it Stops Responding
If the computer stops responding, the normal procedure to get it working properly is to try to close the offending program. To do this, hold down the CTRL and ALT keys, and then press DELETE (CTRL+ALT+DELETE).
If the Close Program dialog box appears, look through the list and find an item that says Not responding after it.
Common Causes for Lockups
When the computer stops responding, it does not mean that it is broken. The issue could have occurred after an unusual key sequence or just an unfortunate circumstance. In these situations, the issue should not occur very often, if ever again. Another possibility, and a more likely scenario, is that the physical hardware in the computer works properly but there is something wrong with the software installed on the computer. The software could be an application or even the operating system itself. In the situations where the software causes the issue, they are most likely soft lockups rather than hard lockups. Often, but not always, a hard lockup is caused by hardware failure or a corrupt device driver.
Some reasons why a computer may stop responding:
Trying to Fix a Lockup
It is difficult to determine when, where, or how often a lockup may occur. The first step to try to fix a lockup is to know more about it. Ask yourself these questions:
When you know more about the issue, you can try to narrow it down. Here are some things that you can try:
Once the issue has been better identified and actions have been taken to try to resolve it, the computer should be tested for the lockup again. Save your work frequently to reduce the amount of loss that will occur if it stops responding. It is also good to try to do some maintenance on the computer. Your car needs an oil change and a regular checkup to maintain it. This helps keep your car running good and prolongs its life. Just like your car, your computer needs maintenance to help keep it running good and to prolong its life.
Here are some things to help maintain your computer:
Soft lockup - The computer stops responding and the mouse or the keyboard will probably function properly. After pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, the Close Program dialog box appears and a specific application or process that is not responding can be End Tasked. Once the application or process has been End Tasked, the computer functions normally.
Hard lockup - The computer stops responding and the mouse or the keyboard will probably not function properly. Pressing the Num Lock, Caps Lock, or Scroll Lock keys does not light up the indicator LED's on the keyboard. After pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete, nothing happens. Pressing Ctrl-Alt-Delete repeatedly may cause the system to restart but if it doesn't, the system must be powered off by pressing and holding down the power button. Once the computer is turned back on, it functions normally.
End Task - Option found in the Close Program dialog box and used to stop applications or processes from running.
There is a table available to use for tracking lockups and to make it easier for the technicians to correct the the issue: