How to Deal with System Freezes
System freezes are one of the most common problems that all Windows users have to deal with, at one time or another. A system freeze may occur at any time, whether or not you are actively working on your computer. They can occur when you are playing an audio or multimedia file, running a Norton antivirus scan, or just typing into your Word processor.
Most of the time, to recover from system freezes you need to press the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination. On Windows 95, 98, and ME systems, this gives you an option to reboot your system. On Windows NT, 2000, and XP systems pressing the Ctrl+Alt+Del key combination opens up the Task Manager window. If you are lucky enough, you can browse through the program list in Task Manager, select the program that is not responding, and click the End Task button to close that application. After this application has closed, your system is usually back to normal.
Causes and Preventive Measures
Let’s now look at some of the common causes of Windows errors and the methods to deal with and prevent them.
You may encounter system freezes if you run an incompatible application on your system. To fix this problem, you must check out the compatible version of the application and install it on the system.
Different versions of Windows operating systems have different minimum system requirements. Basically, heavier the OS, the more system resources you need. For instance, the minimum system requirements of a Windows XP system is 300 MHz processor, 1.5 GB disk space, SVGA (800×600) resolution video monitor and adaptor, and CD-ROM or DVD Drive (required for installation). If your system does not meet any of these requirements, especially the processor, disk space, and memory requirements, you will frequently encounter system freezes.
System freezes are common if hardware devices such as the keyboard and mouse are not compatible with your operating system. If you run heavier applications that consume a lot of memory on your system, then the chances of memory conflicts between applications and even the operating system itself increases. These conflicts considerably slow down your system during operation and cause frequent system freezes. Therefore, to fix the problem and to restore your system, you must only install and configure compatible hardware devices on your computer.
Applications, such as Internet Explorer and certain third-party software, frequently store information in the Temp folder of your system. If your system has a smaller hard disk, and if you do not have enough space to store temporary files, you will start encountering system freezes. Therefore, you must use utilities such as Disk Cleanup to delete unwanted files and data from your system to free up disk space. Using the Disk Cleanup utility, you can efficiently remove unwanted information such as, downloaded program files, temporary Internet files, offline Web pages, Office setup files, and temporary files. The Disk Cleanup utility also enables you to empty your Recycle Bin and compress old files. On Windows XP, You can access the Disk Cleanup utility by opening Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tool > Disk Cleanup.
Over time, certain errors and bad sectors start developing on the hard disk installed on your system. Whenever you or an application running on your system tries to access information stored in these bad sectors, your system hangs. To keep your hard disk in good working condition, you must regularly use Windows XP system maintenance tools such as Disk Defragmenter and Chkdsk.
You can also open the Disk Defragmenter from the System Tools menu and use it to analyze local volume—identified by drive letters C:, D:, and so on, and consolidate fragmented folders and files on the hard disk. You can run the ChkDsk command from Start > Run or from the command prompt. The chkdsk volume:/f command helps you repair disk errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, and the chkdsk volume:/r commands helps you repair errors along with identifying bad sectors on the hard disk and marking them.
A corrupt or damaged Windows registry may also be a cause of frequent system errors and system freezes. To counter this problem, you must regularly scan the registry for errors and remove all unwanted and obsolete entries from it. For this, you may download and install a reliable registry cleaner software from the Internet. Registry cleaners are easy to use and help you repair registry errors with just a few clicks of your mouse.
System freezes are a common problem among most Windows users. There are a large number of reasons that can lead to system freezes. Some of them are, incompatible hardware and applications, low memory or disk space, bad sectors on hard disks, and a damaged registry. You can prevent frequent system freezes by regularly running disk and registry utilities on your system to keep your hard disk and registry free of unwanted files, information, and errors. You must ensure that your system meets the minimum hardware requirements of your operating system and install only compatible hardware and software on the system.