Frozen computer

7 replies [Last post]
Jim Blacklock
Joined: Apr 29 2001

My computer is freezing when left on for some and can only be switched off using the switch at the back of the computer. If I then switch on again it freezes after a short time. If I leave it off for a longer time then it doesn't freeze quite so quickly.
I've also noted a difference in the noise from the computer, more like a growling sound some of the time. I'm not an expert but logically it seems as if the processor could be overheating and a safety shut-off freezes the computer. Does this sound reasonable & if so what should I do about it. If it's utter rubbish then any ideas what the problem could be.

Dave R Smith
Joined: May 10 2005

I'm no expert in this area but wonder if:
You have plenty of free space on your hard drive.
Is there a tremendous amount of 'history' from browsing - with loads of cookies.
Browsing web makes lots of very small files, which can make big blocks of free space hard to find and therefore slow the system.

Back up important data.
Tidy up/housekeep these files.
Run a check for viruses/adware and the like.
Defrag the hard drive.
Ask yourself - was this decline sudden?
Had you just installed new software of visited a dodgy site or rec'd dodgy email?

Joined: May 6 2006

Hi Jim,

are you able to post a bit of info about your pc; operating system, memory size, hard drive size, processor speed, rough age of the pc? What antivirus and firewall are you using and are they up-to-date? Have Windows updates been downloaded recently, Ive just had a huge issue with one component of the Windows XP update on one of my pcs which caused all sorts of problems.

You shouldn't need to resort to shutting down a pc using the power supply switch on the back of the pc. You should always try hitting "Ctrl Alt Delete" (in order and in quick succession) first. This should present you with Windows Task Manager. In the Applications window, if any of the programs listed are showing as "Not Responding" instead of the normal "Running" then highlight them/it and choose "end task".You may get another box saying "Not responding" again but just select to end task again. You can also shut down or restart your pc from Windows Task Manager using either the mouse or keyboard. If you can get this far but having problems selecting what you want let me know and I canguide you further.

If nothing happens at all when you try "Ctrl Alt Delete" use the power button on the front of the pc. You will probably have to hold the button in for several seconds before the pc shuts down but this is a better route than the switch on the back and much easier to reach!

The noise you can hear is most likely the processor fan keeping the processor cool. The fan coming on is a good thing and comes on and off automatically if the processor overheats. The reason the fan's running in the first place may not be a good thing. If the processor is overheating it's most likely because it's being overworked which is most often caused by virus or malware activity. The noise could also be the hard drive failing but this is much less likely.

Dave's right, you should do some 'housekeeping' and give everything a good old clear out. Here's a list of things to do:

1.) Try and speed things up a little first to help you with the next tasks by running Disk Cleanup (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Cleanup). This may take a while if you've not done it for a while so don't get disheartened if the progress bar sticks at a short way along for a while, maybe several minutes depending on your pc. When complete you can safely tick all the boxes and then "OK" then yes when asked to confirm.

2.) If you don't already have them, download Spybot S&D and Adaware, both free. Instal one at a time and check for and download any updates before you scan. You can run them both at the same time if your pc is not too slow and they should find and remove any spyware, malware and nasties that may be lurking.

3.) Depending on which antivirus you have, check to see if there are any updates for it then run a full system scan, again, if there are any viruses it should pick them up and will either delete or quarantene them.

4.) If Automatic updates is not enabled, check to see if there are any critical Windows updates that you need. How you do it depends on which operating system you are running. (For XP: Start > Help & Support > "Keep you computer up-to-date Windows Update"). Choose "Express" then "install" whatever is presented to you.

5.) If things have improved somewhat, you can do more by removing any old programs you no longer use. (Start > Control Panel > Add & Remove Programs). Go though the list and uninstal anything you don't use any more. You may be asked to restart your pc to complete the uninstal, do this for each as you go rather than doing them all and restarting just once. Baby steps!

Space might be an issue, accumulation of old files and Windows XP itself take up a lot of room!

If you get stuck doing any of these come back and try and describe everything that happens as there are other things you can try.

Good luck,


Joined: Apr 1 1999

IN most cases that we have seen this problem is associated with either a total fan failure or intermittant fan failure. When the temp goes up the processor halts.

I'd check the fan, check to see if you have a lot of dust/dirt on the fan/processor, and make sure things are cleaned out. As an experiment also you might turn the case on its side, and leave the cover off or open and see if that makes a difference.

Usually itis
Processor fan, then mother board chip set fan if it has one, then power supply fan, or that the cooling fans getting to the hard drive are failing or.... I would suspect processor fan.


Joined: Nov 19 2005


Jim Blacklock
Joined: Apr 29 2001

Before I could resolve the freezing problem of switching off must have corrupted some files and the computer wouldn't come up but just kept looping even in safe mode so I had to send it to the doctor. Still awaiting it's arrival home.
In the meanwhile I decided that it would be a good idea to have a back up computer and so purchased a reconditioned one, installed XP and got on to the internet using my son's discarded wireless router. All works well except that I can't change the monitor resolution from 640 x 480. This not only gives a picture that is inconveniently big but creates problems in printing as the print instruction on the print panel is off the bottom of the screen and it's not possible to bring it into view. Know it's not the monitor or driver as I brought my other screen upstairs with the same outcome.
Is it XP or is it the computer hardware and is there anything I can do to change the monitor resoulution ?

harlequin's picture
Joined: Aug 16 2000

you need to install the correct drivers for the graphics card , as i have problems remembering any that would be stuck at 640x480 once they are installed , and also if possible tell it which monitor you have.

Gary MacKenzie ( an account only used for forum messages )

Thinkserver TS140 , 750ti Graphics card  & LG 27" uws led backlight , Edius 8

Humax Foxsat HD Pvr / Humax Fox T2 dvbt

Jim Blacklock
Joined: Apr 29 2001

Apologies for not getting back on this one - waiting for the primary computer to come back from the doctor (doctor was my son-in-law who knows his way around these minefields far better than I do).
Firstly, thanks for info on drivers for secondary computer - that did the trick.
Secondly the diagnosis appears to be that the graphics card I had installed a few months ago, FX5200, was the culprit. So graphics card removed and am now testing before looking for another graphics card.
As all my data was stored and hard files were re-formatted before making a clean re-install I have had to re-install applications etc. I have two strange problems with my internet. The first is that the home page is MSN and when I go Tools/Internet Options and change my home page to NTLWorld is just seems to ignore this and comes up with MSN again.
The second is with my e-mail. On the secondary computer I used NTL Webmail to get into e-mail. This allowed me to send and receive e-mails but didn't show any of my previously saved e-mails. Now on the primary computer I have all my saved folders and e-mails and can send e-mails. However when sending a test e-mail to myself this e-mail goes but is not received in Outlook Express but is received in NTL Webmail. Have tried following NTL's help page to solve these problems but so far have not succeeded.