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:

Posted by on , in Category Windows with Tags
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.

14 Comments

  1. vasudev

    Nice post. I’ll also add , if you are using Bluetooth wireless mouse / keyboard then sometimes on PC reboot/start, sometimes mouse/keyboard fails to communicate that also causes PC hangup. Sometimes weak batteries in mouse also creates hangup problems

  2. Rahul Vijay Manekari

    nice post .. would like to add in Power Suppy : remove all the connection – SMPS to all the devices (Motherboard, HDD, CD/DVD) … Connect black and brown wire from the 20pin SMPS-mobo connector.

    switch on the powersupply from switchboard. If the SMPS fan is working then SMPS is OK.

  3. Thanks vasudeo and Rahul for your inputs 🙂

  4. Thanks for the suggestions …

  5. TheBigOldDog

    Misbehaving external USB devices can sometimes also cause computer to not boot at all. They’ll hang at the BIOS screen or a blank screen just after the BIOS message. I’ve seen external hard drives, printers, keyboards and mice cause this problem. Usually the devices turn out to just need a power cycling to return the system to normal operations. I usually unplug external USB cables 1 by 1 until the machine boots, starting with printers, then external drives, then keyboards, then mice.

  6. Thanks for the Tip TheBigOldDog 🙂

  7. Sbien

    i’ve been having a string of unexpected shutdowns. after doing most of what you recommended, which has not turned up anything yet, i noticed that my clock was off by 1 day. how likely is this to be the cause?

  8. Kyle

    my comp is not having random shutdowns but my mouse is glitching out and my computer is randomly freezing please help(idk whats causing this it was fine a day ago)

  9. antstt

    @40bf8ba00bd24f8e28ca30d098f71113:disqus try changing your cmos battery. But the normal culprits may apply; heat (blow out your cpu and case fans), power supply (test with a KNOWN good power supply). Sbien above may have also had a problem with his cmos battery (usually cr2032)

  10. vishnu

    thankyou so much for your valuble informations…………….

  11. MaintainMyPC

    Thanks for this awesome post, hardware freezing and rebooting windows are very common problem in computer and laptops. Very nice post this is like online technical support about computer troubleshooting.

  12. oksman

    Nice post. It took me months to figure out what exactly was wrong with mine. I discovered in my own case that the mouse was the main cause of the freeze and since i replaced it, the freeze ceased. Then I updated the drivers with Uniblue driver scanner; and my system became stable

  13. Mathijs Meijers

    i had problems with my bluetooth keyboard from the dollar store and now its fixed thanks mate 😀

  14. All the points discussed above are exactly correct. One of the reason of the above problem is CPU fan also, as lot of dust got accumulated causing the computer to freeze. When this problem happens with me, I clean the fan and also updated the drivers. At last, I used the cleaner to clean junk files, and then my problem gets solved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


5 + 3 =