“What do I do when my computer is frozen?”
Here are some tips and tricks to try before holding the power down button… This article should be called “Avoiding the HARD power down” which is what it is called when you hold the power button until your machine shuts off or when you pull the power cord from the wall or the back of your computer.
This can damage your computer, sometimes destroying the boot sector on the hard drive it so that the computer will not boot up.
HOW TO KILL PROGRAMS OR PROCESSES:
PC: Trusty ctrl – alt – del
If a windows computer becomes unresponsive or “frozen” it doesn’t matter if it is a laptop or a desktop. The first thing that you can try doing is pressing and holding the keyboard buttons “control” and “alt” and “delete” at the same time.
Most users know that this combination brings up the “task manager” which allows you to see which programs, program processes, and system processes are running on your computer. If you press it repeatedly, or while you have task manager open, it will cause your computer to reboot.
The task manager also displays statistics for memory, cpu, and page file usage.
From here you have the option to kill programs or processes which may be “frozen” or hogging your memory and cpu and therefore making your computer very slow.
Mac: Trusty command – option – escape
Similarly, on a mac computer you can simultaneously press the keyboard keys “command” and “option” and “escape” aka:
⌘ + option + esc
The command key is the one on your keyboard that has the and the “⌘” (St. Johns Arms) on it.
(FYI: Most of the common keyboard shortcuts on a PC that use control will use command on a Mac. For example, pressing “cntrl” and “c” on your keyboard will copy whatever you have selected – file or text. On a Mac you can press “⌘” and “c” and voila! – you have copied.)
On a Mac, a Force Quit Application window will pop up when you press the ⌘ + option + esc – this will also allow you to kill any programs which are unresponsive.
Mac and PC Worst Case Scenario: Computer Completely Totally Unresponsive
If your mouse will not move and your keyboard will not respond, hope is not lost.
The first thing that you should do if you can’t get the force quit application window (Mac only) or task manager (PC only) is to remove almost everything that plugs into your computer EXCEPT the power cord!
Many times a usb or firewire (mac) \ IEEE 1394 (pc) device can cause your computer to become unresponsive. Unplug any external hard drive, memory stick, DVD burner, camera, cell phone, wireless device, or printer from your computer. Now plug only the keyboard in (or if you’re on a laptop don’t plug anything in) and try to kill programs again. At this point you can also plug your mouse back in.
PC Still frozen?
If you’re still locked up at this point and you are on a PC… You will probably not be able to unfreeze your computer without powering down.
If your computer is connected to a network (you may have to plug the ethernet/networking cable back in at this point) or if your HP, Gateway, Dell, or self-built laptop has a wireless connection AND if you have another computer on the network there is one last test to see if your computer is at all responsive: a ping test – one computer sends a “ping” of small data to another computer which responds with a “pong” to tell the other machine that it’s there. Here’s how to do it:
The Ping Test
Go to the “unfrozen” computer on your network and then click Start > Run – type in “cmd” and press enter.
This will open a terminal shell. Type in “ping” and then the name or IP address of the frozen computer.
Example: ping 192.168.1.103 OR ping name_of_my_laptop
(If you do not know the name or IP address of your frozen computer, then you can find it out from your router or modem – email us and we’ll give you free advice on how to do this.)
If you get a response then you may be able to use Remote Desktop to control your machine. If you don’t get a response, now your only choice is to power the computer down, hard. Just hold the button until the computer shuts off. Be sure to run some disk diagnostics after you power it back up. Scandisk should run automatically if you are using Windows XP. Do not cancel it.
For more free information, you can send us an email and we’ll tell you how to access your computer remotely. (We can also show you how to setup access to your computer(s) from any other computer on the internet for a small fee.)
Mac Still frozen?
If your computer is connected to a network (you may have to plug the ethernet/networking cable back in at this point) or if your Macbook, Powerbook, or Macbook Pro has a wireless connection AND if you have any other computer on the network you can also do a ping test (see above).
If you have another Mac or Linux computer on the network you can do a ping, but you may also be able to login to your machine with SSH. If you can connect in this way, then you should be able to kill any unresponsive programs or processes. It’s an additional troubleshooting step that is not available on PC’s. The command line on a Mac running OS X is very powerful.
Go to Applications > Utilities and then click Terminal
This will open a terminal shell. First thing to test would be to do a ping test. See above for instructions.
If your frozen computer responds to a ping, then you can try typing “ssh” followed by a username then the symbol @ and then the name or IP address of the frozen computer.
If it responds, then you’re in luck. Now you can use commands like “top -o cpu” to see what’s running or “ps awx” to get a list of processes. After choosing processes to kill, write down their PID # and type in “sudo kill -9” followed by the PID and press enter.
For help or for more information, feel free to contact us via email – [email protected]