Windows freezing or rebooting due to Hardware problems

Maybe you are facing random computer freezes and reboots! In such cases we have to first find out if it’s a hardware specific problem or a software specific problem. Because system instability can be caused due to both these reasons. This post covers computer reboots and freezes which may be caused due to your hardware and offer possible troubleshooting steps.

Computer freezes or reboots due to Hardware issues

RAM: To find out if it’s specific to hardware, download Memtest86+ ISO Image and burn it to a disk. Then boot from the disk and run Memory Diagnostic for 8 to 9 passes. It’s must be allowed to run up to 8 or 9 passes, to find out if it’s RAM that is causing the problem.  Even a single error means there is something wrong with either RAM or DIMM slot. So you have to run MemTest with individual slots with individual RAM. Check the Motherboard manual and see that the voltage and timings are set correctly in the BIOS. Also check and ensure that the RAM is compatible with the board.

Hard drive: Next we have to test the Hard Drive condition. Find out the manufacturer of your Hard Drive and go to manufactures website. Most of the manufactures will have their own diagnostic tools. So run a complete diagnostic and check the stability of the Hard Drive.  If you find a lot of bad sectors or error immediately start backing up your data. Then run chkdsk to see if that corrects the problem. If not, then if it is covered by warranty, send for RMA.

Overheat: One of the most common issues that cause the system instability is Overheat. To test that there are a lot of applications out there that would help you to monitor the temperatures. For example SpeedFan, HWMonitor, Open Hardware Monitor, etc. are few of them. Once you find that the system instability is caused by overheating, then if it a desktop remove the side panel and blow the dust out. Make sure you remove the CPU Fan and remove the dust as well. Also replace the thermal paste. Make sure all the fans are working properly. If it’s a Laptop then it’s best to take it to a local PC repair shop.

BIOS: Sometimes changing the settings in BIOS, like Overclocking the RAM or processor and cause instability for the system. In such cases, reset the BIOS to default settings or reset it by removing CMOS for a minute and put it back.  Make sure the BIOS firmware is up to date.

Power Supply: Sometimes you might have a great system with latest board, processor, GPU, RAM etc. but to handle those, your PSU may not be powerful enough. Make sure you get one that can handle your hardware. Also, PSU failure can cause the system to act weird – unfortunately there is no easy way to test it. But sometimes you can hear loud noises from SMPS that would help you figure out if it’s the PSU that’s causing the problem.

Graphic Card:  Sometimes a GPU can cause system instability. Maybe overheating or incorrect clock settings are the main causes. In such cases, there are a lot of stress test software, which you could run to check the stability of your GPU like FurMark etc. Also, a bad driver can also cause problems, so it might be a good idea to reinstall the drivers.  Also, when you Overclock your GPU –  check the manual.

External devices:  Sometimes a faulty external device like a USB Camera, Mouse, Keyboard, Gaming control etc. can cause random reboots. It’s best to disconnect all the USB devices and see if that fixes the problem. Also, it’s best to see if you can borrow a Keyboard and mouse and see if that make any difference. Also, you could check the Event Viewer to see any information or errors about a USB device is logged there.

If you think it may be a software issue that is causing your Windows computer to freeze or reboot randomly, you may want to check these links:

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Shyam aka “Captain Jack” is a Microsoft MVP alumnus and a Windows Enthusiast with an interest in Advanced Windows troubleshooting. Suggestions made and opinions expressed by him here are his personal one's and not of his current employers. He blogs at captaindbg.com.