Wednesday, 18 March 2009

What to do when Windows hangs (revisited)

So, your PC isn't doing anything, the screen is a mess, the hard-drive is whirring away. Is there anything you can do, rather than just reach for the reset button?

Here are my top tips for dealing with those times when Windows hangs.

Don't keep clicking things

Windows buffers (meaning that it remembers) all these clicks and will implement them when it catches up, preventing you from continuing with what you want to do, and possibly causing havoc. Show a little bit of patience.

Check to see if your PC has crashed
Before you hit that reset button it is wise to check if your PC has actually crashed. To do this simply press the Caps Lock key, and check whether the 'Caps Lock' light goes on or off; if it does then your session may be recoverable. You may have to wait a few seconds to see a response.

Try to close any non-essential applications
You can try to close any programs that don't have any of your precious work open in. Try right-clicking on their button on the taskbar (the bar with the time and the Start menu on it) and clicking 'Close'. A little patience may be required here if the machine is running slowly.

If your mouse is really slowed down you may have more joy with the keyboard. Hold down the alt key and press tab to change between programs. When the non-essential application appears try to close it by holding down the alt key and pressing F4.

Use the Task Manager
All recent versions of Windows have a built in application called Task Manager. To run it simply hold down Ctrl and Alt, and press Delete (note: Windows 2000 users will then have to press the 'Task Manager' button on the dialog box that opens.)

As with all these tips, you will have to wait a while to see if it appears. When it does, check the 'Applications' tab to see if any of the programs you are running have a status of 'Not Responding.' If they are, click on one to highlight it then and click the 'End Task' button. Do this with any other programs that are not responding, then cross your fingers.

If Windows starts working again it is best to save all your work and restart the PC. A clean restart is always preferable to a nasty reset.

This is an updated and amended version of an article originally published on 19 September 2007.


The IT Operation said...

Great post, thank you very much!

The It Operation

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

I did not know the caps lock trick. Thanks!

Stepterix said...

The IT Op: Thanks for the comment.

Sharkbytes: It is a trick a learned years ago when PC hardware was much more crash prone. Ahhh, the days of regular IRQ conflicts.

lunaticg said...

Some of your method really works.
See you around.

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David Williams said...

Great tips. This has often happened to me and I have made some of the mistakes mentioned. I have bookmarked this post as well as printed a copy (bookmarking won't help if it does happen). Thanks for the great help!

Raezin said...

I think I've been doing (almost) all of the wrong things. My friends are mostly unhelpful, snarky Mac types whose only advice is "Get a Mac!"


Stepterix said...

Thanks for the kind feedback. I am glad that this post has been of use to you all, especially those under the influence of the Heretics of the Apple ;)

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