Sometimes I experience random restarts, and crashes when using my computer. A lot of the time, it is easy to fix without the need to buy a new computer part, or software to fix Windows.
Random crashes, and restarts can be caused by loose power or data cable connections on your desktop computer’s motherboard, a bad RAM, or memory/RAM Slot, failing RAM, bad video card, bad RAM, and other problems.
I recommend reading Scott Mueller’s Upgrading and Repairing PCs (21st Edition) to learn all the tips, and tricks on repairing, and upgrading most PC Computers. This computer repair book is handy to have around when you don’t have access to the internet, or electricity since books can be read anywhere.
Make sure to backup your hard drive data before fixing your computer to prevent data lost. If your computer is not stable enough to backup the data because of random crashes, and freezes, you need to turn off your computer, and take out the hard drive, and install the drive on another desktop computer which works properly, and backup your computer with a working computer which is stable, and does not crash. There are plenty of online tutorials on websites like YouTube which teach you how to remove, and install a hard drive on a desktop PC.
There are hard drive tester programs which you can sometimes download from your hard drive Manufacturer’s support website to easily test the hard drive from within Windows, or a Boot disc or USB boot drive designed to test hard drives. There are also many free Hard drive scanner programs like HDDScan, DiskCheckUP, and HD Tune which can test any brand of hard drive which you have installed on your Windows desktop computer. Ultimate Boot CD which is a boot CD has some hard drive testing tools for testing hard drives and other parts like RAM, CPU, etc for problems when you boot your computer from Ultimate Boot CD.
Windows also has scandisk/chkdsk which can tell you if your drive contains surface errors which is a sign of a dying hard drive. In older versions of Windows, you can start into a command line user interface to run chkdsk from the command line, so Windows desktop and background programs are not running during the scan. Scanning the Windows Drive C: will make your computer do a scan disk the next time your computer’s reboot. When doing a scan disk, I recommend you check the box for finding bad sectors on a hard drive, and trying to repair them since it will make Windows try to fix bad sectors if it finds any. You need to use Windows Event Viewer in the control panel’s Administrator folder to read your scan disk summary. If your computer’s hard drive is breaking, you should back up all your important data to an external hard drive, and replace the failing hard drive.
I notice sometimes a bad hard drive cable, or hard drive port on a motherboard can cause my computer to not startup, and freeze randomly. Replacing a SATA or IDE hard drive cable is very easy to do since you just need to unplug the old hard drive cable, and plug in the new hard drive cable into the motherboard’s and hard drive’s SATA or IDE ports. If your ports on the motherboard are breaking, you could install a PCI SATA and IDE controller card to use to connect your hard drive to the computer.
First, you should turn off your computer, and unplug all un-needed accessories like USB flash drives, printers, external hard drives, webcams, and other accessories which are not needed for a computer to be usable. You should just have your monitor, speakers, internet/network cable, keyboard, and mouse plugged in while powering on your computer. You can also unplug your networking cable, and speakers if you don’t need sound and internet while fixing your PC. I notice some USB devices like USB hard drives, flash drives, and printers can make a computer un-startable or freeze Windows until I turn them off, or unplug them from my PC. A broken USB cable may also be causing your computer to short its circuit and not work, and cause problems. Those power adapters for USB accessories may also be affecting your computer systems stability by interfering with the computer’s electrical system.
Check your power cable for your computer to see if it is fully inserted into the back of the power supply. Also, check your mouse, keyboard, and monitor cables to see if they are fully inserted and in good condition.
You should scan your computer for viruses, spyware, and malware to see if your crash, and freezing problems are caused by a virus, spyware, or malware problem. Uninstalling a program which you recently installed may also fix your computer problems since poorly made software can cause Windows problems like freezes, reboots, and crashes. Doing a system restore to an earlier date may fix your problems. Reinstalling your operating system can fix reboots as well. But, you should backup all your important personal files before you reinstall an operating system like Windows. Sometimes, a recent Windows Update maybe causing Windows to freeze, or randomly reboot, so you may need to use Windows Update’s update uninstaller, or System Restore to fix your computer to a time where it does not have stability problems. Program updates for Antivirus, Antispyware, Antimalware, System Utility, and other programs can also cause stability problems, so you can try uninstalling programs, and its updates if possible to see if it improves your computer’s stability.
If you recently upgraded to a new version of Windows, installed new programs, and games which use more system resources, your computer may not have enough RAM, a fast enough CPU and video card, or hard drive which is causing freezing, and other problems because of your computer’s slow performance. Upgrading your computer, or buying a new computer with faster parts like a faster CPU, more RAM, and a faster video card will solve your freezing caused by a slow computer parts problem.
Running a disk cleanup, scan disk, and disk defrag may make your computer’s hard drive work a little faster, so freezes caused by a slow hard drive maybe less common after you ran a disk cleanup, scan disk, and disk defrag which organize your files on your hard drives, so they open faster. You do not need to run a disk defrag on a solid state drive, but Windows Disk Defrag for Windows 8.1 has an optimization for SSD storage which TRIMs your drive to make it work better.
If you think your computer crashes are caused by a hardware problem, I recommend you check the Power Supply, and RAM before checking other parts for problems. In my experience, a lot of the times random restarts, crashes, and blue screen freezes are caused by a bad power supply, and RAM, or poor connections between the power supply cables, and RAM with the motherboard.
Turn off, and unplug all your external cables from your desktop PC before you begin fixing the inside of your computer. Never fix the inside of your PC when it is powered on, and plugged into a power outlet because it is dangerous. Also, use proper anti-static tools like an anti-static wrist strap connected to a metal part inside of your PC’s case like the metal case to prevent static electricity from damaging your computer.
I notice that sometimes unplugging the computer, and holding the power button 30 or more seconds can fix minor problems caused by power. But, it can’t fix problems related to a broken or unreliable power supply.
The first thing I recommend you do while your PC case is open is to check to see if all your computer’s internal power supply, and data drive cables inside your desktop computer are tightly connected to your motherboard circuit board, storage drives, and video cards inside your computer. You just need to push firmly on the cable’s plastic plugs to see if they are firmly connected to the power and data ports on your motherboard, and parts like hard drive, disc drives, and video cards. Some cables like the power supply 20-24 pin cable has a plastic tab which latches onto a tab on the motherboard when it is fully inserted into the power supply port on the motherboard. I notice a lot of the times, random crashes, and restarts are caused by a loose power supply cables connected to the motherboard. If you use an Intel CPU on your desktop computer, there is a separate 4 pin with a tab which grabs on to a tab connection on your motherboard instead of just a 20-24pin connection to connect power on AMD based computers which just uses the 20-24pin power supply cable to power the motherboard. Make sure that the 4 Pin power connector is also tightly attach to the motherboard’s 4Pin port like the 20-24 pin power supply cable which is firmly connected to your powersupply.
While your computer’s case is open, I also recommend you check to see if all your RAM module sticks, are firmly seated in the RAM slots on the motherboard. When the RAM is firmly connected, there should be two clips which clips onto notches on the left and right sides of the RAM modules.
Check to see if all your expansion cards like PCI sound cards, PCI-Express video cards, and PCI-X network cards are firmly attached to the motherboard, and screwed into the case. A poor connection between your expansion cards, and motherboards may cause problems for your computer as well.
It is a good time to blow out dust with canned air, or a computer vacuum cleaner or blower when your computer is open to blow out dust from the case, power supply, and fans. Dust can overheat your PC, and cause it to freeze, and reboot randomly if it gets too hot. Overheating can also cause your computer parts to break faster from heat damage.
Once you are done checking all the power, data, RAM, and PCI Expansion card connections, you should close your computer case, and reconnect your power cable from your wall power outlet, attach your monitor cable, and attach your keyboard and mouse. Lastly, turn on your computer, and use it for a few hours or more to see if your PC still crash, freeze, and randomly reboot. There are startup CD discs, and USB flash drives like Ultimate Boot CD which comes with tools for testing your Memory, hard drive, CPU and other computer parts for problems, and they can be used to test the stability of your computer by running intensive tests to troubleshoot problems. Using Boot Up CDs or USB boot drives to start into Ultimate Boot CD seems safer than using Windows to test the stability of the computer since sometimes when Windows crash, it can corrupt the Windows drive making it unusable.
In my experience, if Windows does not crash in a few hours of use running a full antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware scan, Windows should not crash because of a hardware problem like a bad power supply, corrupt RAM, dying hard drives, or bad motherboard. When testing the stability of Windows, you should not do tasks like office work, homework,, and other important tasks where files can get damaged because of a computer crash.
If Windows still crash, randomly reboot, and freezes, your PC’s RAM, power supply, motherboard, and other parts may need to be replaced.
It is best to check the power supply, and RAM first since these two parts are not as hard to replace as the CPU, motherboard, and other parts which take more time to replace. You can also buy a stick of RAM, and decent power supply for under $30 online, or at local computer stores, so the RAM, and power supply is sometimes one of the cheapest parts to replace compared to a CPU, motherboard, video card, hard drive, and SSD storage drive which can sometimes cost hundreds to thousands of dollars to buy even at online stores.
Replacing a power supply is not too hard. You just need to unplug the power supply from the wall, open your case, put your PC case in a horizontal position, hold the power supply, so it doesn’t fall and unscrew the old power supply, and unplug all the power cables from the old power supply which is connected to the motherboard, hard drive, video cards, fans, and other parts. When you are done taking out your old power supply, you need to install your new power supply by screwing it into your tower PC, and plugging all its cables to the power ports on the motherboard, hard drives, fans, video cards, disc drives, and other parts. Lastly, you need to close your case, and connect the power cord to the back of your new power supply. Some power supplies have an on and off switch on the back, so you would need to turn it ON if the switch is set to OFF before you can turn your PC ON.
If you installed a new power supply, and you still are having problems, it could be your RAM, or RAM slots on the motherboard. Sometimes using Electronic Contact Cleaner to clean the gold or silver connectors on the RAM’s bottom could fix RAM problems caused by a poor connection. Taking out RAM from the RAM slot, and re-installing it can fix RAM problems caused by a bad RAM installation.
On computers with more than one stick of RAM, you can take out all your RAM modules, and test one stick of RAM at a time with a program called Memtest which you can download from http://www.memtest.org which is designed to test RAM. It is best to let Memtest to run for many hours before ending the test since sometimes bad RAM will fail the test after a few hours of being tested in Memtest. Don’t use RAM which failed Memtest. You would need to install new RAM if all your RAM failed the Memtest. You can’t fix broken RAM, and should replace the stick of corrupt RAM before using your computer.
If your RAM passes the Memtest, you can install the good stick of RAM into each RAM slot on the motherboard to test the RAM slot with Memtest by seeing if the good stick of RAM passes the test when on Memtest.
If you still get problems after replacing your power supply, and RAM, you may need to replace your motherboard, CPU, hard drive, video card, and other parts which are installed on your computer.
When checking your computer’s parts, make sure there are no loose wires, parts or screws which are touching the motherboard, expansion PCI cards, or any other parts inside your computer case. Loose screws, wires, and other parts touching each other could be causing a short circuit electrical problem which makes your computer unusable, or damaged where you need to replace the damaged parts caused by a short circuit. Damaged USB plugs on Flash drives, cables, and accessories can also short-circuit your motherboard because USB ports are connected to your motherboard. You may need to replace your motherboard, and other parts which got damaged by a short circuit.
Replacing a motherboard, and CPU is harder to replace because of the many steps involved in replacing them both. Plus, the CPU, and motherboard also also both more fragile parts and can break easily if you uninstalled them wrong, or bent their pins, and other parts. But, replacing a hard drive, video card, disc drives are not as hard since they mostly involve unscrewing them from the computer case, and removing the cables to install the new part in to replace the broken part.
If your CPU chip is fine, and overheats a lot, you may need to re-apply the thermal paste to the bottom of the heatsink, blow out dust from the CPU cooling fan, and replace the CPU cooling fan with a faster spinning cooling fan which can blow more air. Sometimes, you might need to replace the heatsink on your CPU with a better heatsink made of copper which is compatible with your motherboard and CPU if you suspect your CPU is not being cooled well with the heatsink which came with your PC.
Fixing a desktop tower computer from randomly crashing, freezing, and rebooting can be as simple as uninstalling a program, making sure your RAM, Power supply cables, and data cables have a tight connection with the motherboard, and parts like hard drives for power, and data cables. But, fixing a computer from randomly crashing, freezing, and rebooting can be a little harder where you need to replace parts like the RAM, power supply, motherboard, CPU, video card, and other parts which require more computer repair skills, tools, and problem solving skills to complete.
How do you usually fix your computer from randomly rebooting, crashing, and freezing?
I usually just check the power, data, and RAM connections to see if they are tightly pushed in, and I also replace the RAM, and power supply on older computers to make them work properly again. On one older computer, the RAM slot broke on my motherboard, and causes stability problems so I just use the one good RAM slot with 1GB of RAM to run Windows XP on it. I would need to replace the motherboard when the other RAM slot break because my motherboard only have one good RAM Slot, so if the good one breaks, I would have no good RAM slots on my older motherboard after my final good RAM slot is broken.
I also experience random freezing on a old Windows Vista laptop where the SATA hard drive port was dying which caused freezes and eventually made the hard drive un-startable. I fixed the freezing problem by using another SATA port on my motherboard which was not broken, and working properly. I plan on eventually buying a SATA drive controller PCI expansion card when my remaining 3 working SATA ports on my motherboard breaks. I notice sometimes when a SATA port is not working properly, unplugging the SATA drive cable from the motherboard, and replugging it back in fixes the freezing and un-startable computer problem I experience. My best guess is that the connection got loose between the SATA port and cable, dust got stuck between the SATA port and SATA cable connection making the connection not very good, or removing and replugging in the cable removes static electricity, or oxidation on the connectors which cause me to experience freezing and unable to boot errors. I can probably fix the freezing problem by replacing the SATA drive cable with a good SATA cable which I can buy for a few dollars online.
Lastly, one time my computer did not start up because the RAM was not fully inserted into my computer. I fixed it by turning off the PC, and pushing on the RAM module until it is fully inserted. On a old laptop, the RAM did not work until I cleaned the metal gold contacts on the bottom of the RAM with Rubbing Alcohol, and a clean micro-fiber cloth.
Unfortunately, cleaning a desktop RAM module’s metal gold contacts with Rubbing alcohol, and a micro fiber cloth did not work because my PC still randomly reboot, and failed Memtest when I had the Bad RAM installed on my motherboard.