Commentary: How to shut down a “frozen” Microsoft Windows computer

February 28, 2012 

If you are using a desktop or laptop running Microsoft Windows, chances are the computer will run flawlessly but what do you do if your computer crashes and becomes “frozen”?

While a frozen computer can be a symptom of a serious issue, there are steps you can take to attempt to recover your system. Many Windows’ crashes are caused by programs that have become unresponsive; simply waiting a few minutes often will allow the program time to recover. If your Windows computer is still locked up and unresponsive after waiting, then the following steps should help you restart your computer. These steps work with Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7.

The first thing you should try is to end the program which has caused the freeze. You can do this by using a program that comes with Windows called Task Manager. Press CTRL+ALT+DEL at the same time and Task Manager should open. Task Manager shows a list of all running applications on your computer. In the list of running programs, you want to look for any programs that say “not responding.” If any program is labeled “not responding,” right-click on the program in Task Manager and select “end task” from the menu. This should close the unresponsive program. If a popup window asks you to “end now” or “wait

for the program to respond,” choose “end now.” You may lose any work that you had opened in this application.

If Task Manager isn’t working and you have no other way of closing the frozen computer programs then you should attempt a “forced shutdown” of the computer. A forced shutdown is where you literally force your computer to shut off. To shut down when the computer is not responding, hold the power button in for about 10 to 15 seconds and the computer should power down. You will lose any unsaved work that you had opened.

If the previous steps didn’t work, the very last resort is to unplug the computer from the wall plug. You will lose any unsaved work that you had opened. This step does carry risk. When a computer unexpectedly loses power, the sudden shutdown can damage the hard disk but sometimes pulling the plug is the only way to force a frozen computer to shut down.

For a desktop computer, you simply need to unplug the power cord from the wall plug, then plug it back in and turn on the computer. For a laptop computer you need to unplug the power cord from the wall plug and you also have to have remove its battery momentarily. To remove a laptop’s battery, turn the laptop over and look for the battery release latches. Some laptops have one battery release latch but most have two. Slide and hold the battery release latches to remove the battery. Your laptop should be fully powered down now. You can put the battery back and it should lock into place. Now you can turn the laptop back over, plug it in and turn it on.

Hopefully your computer is now back up and running normally. If the computer doesn’t start or if it is crashing often, then most likely you will want to refer to a professional. A frozen computer can be a very scary event but many times simply using Task Manager (CTRL+ALT+DEL) to shut down the frozen program will resolve the issue.

Until next time, good luck and happy computing!

Skip Coogan, owner of Manasota Geeks in Bradenton, can be reached at 941-518-3079.

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