News, tips, advice, support for Windows, Office, PCs & more. Tech help. No bull. We're community supported by donations from our Plus Members, and proud of it
Home icon Home icon Home icon Email icon RSS icon
  • Freezing Win7 PC

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 7 Questions: Windows 7 Freezing Win7 PC

    Viewing 22 reply threads
    • Author
      • #2264804 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        I have a PC running Windows 7 which now suffers from a problem I have been unable to identify. When first switching on in the morning, everything initially appears fine. However, after about 10-15 mins, there begin to be brief periods in which the PC freezes, for say 5-10 secs, and then it resumes. Over a few minutes, that gradually gets worse and in about 25-30 mins from switch-on, the PC freezes completely, and I have to power off and back on.

        On restarting, everything appears normal, and stays normal, and there is no freezing whatsoever, for as long as the PC remains on. There are no significant errors shown in the Windows logs, no indication of any problems, only the power-on/restart being recorded as an unexpected issue, as one might expect.

        Then, say an hour or two later, after having been entirely normal, I open up a new window in a browser, and the PC immediately freezes, no preparatory signs whatsoever. Again on restarting everything is normal! (Until the next time something happens.) And that includes accessing the same browser site that caused the immediate failure.

        The PC was acquired secondhand, but had been upgraded by a professional supply company, and has extensive RAM and other modern features, but the base is about ten years old, so one concern might be failing motherboard elements. It has an SSD as well as plenty of disk storage.

        I would appreciate any advice on what to look further at, and any software which could record what is happening approaching failure.



      • #2264806 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        I use Task Manager and Resource Monitor to see what is going on.

        Right click on the Task Bar and select Task Manager.
        Click the Performance tab.
        Click Open Resource Monitor at the bottom.

        Start with Task Manager and see what, if anything is consuming your resources. If you need more details use Resource Monitor.

        cheers, Paul

        p.s. backup, just in case.

      • #2264853 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        Some times when they get old they start slowing down and freezing.  For a quick  clean up I go into the control panel, click  on system and security.  Under administrative tools click on free up disk space. For a longer  clean up do a de-fragment.  Might help.  Also with every one staying at home and working at home if you have DSL as I do same thing happens. Late at night it really speeds up when everyone else is in bed.

      • #2264877 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks both.

        I normally use Process Hacker, and that has enabled me to clear out a couple of unused or not required programs, which I thought might help. Does not seem to have had any effect though.

        Using Task Manager, there does not seem to be anything unduly consuming resources. The four heaviest users are Opera and Pale Moon browsers, Bitdefender security and one Svchost program. Apart from the latter, which I have no idea what it is running, all is as I might expect. Memory use is about 3.5Gb, out of 24, so nothing there.

        I don’t think there is a problem with either disk space or defrag. I have about 10Gb unused on the main drive, regularly run disk cleanup via a specific cleanmgr Sage setting, and don’t expect to defrag, given I have an SSD. Trim is turned on, but out of interest I just did an analysis which shows 2% defragmented, so nothing there.


      • #2264882 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Using Task Manager, there does not seem to be anything unduly consuming resources. The four heaviest users are Opera and Pale Moon browsers, Bitdefender security and one Svchost program. Apart from the latter, which I have no idea what it is running, all is as I might expect. Memory use is about 3.5Gb, out of 24, so nothing there.

        Did you happen to note the CPU Usage and Disk Activity while experiencing these freeze-ups?


        • This reply was modified 2 weeks ago by Cybertooth.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2264899 Reply
        AskWoody Lounger

        When first switching on in the morning, everything initially appears fine. However, after about 10-15 mins, there begin to be brief periods in which the PC freezes, for say 5-10 secs, and then it resumes. Over a few minutes, that gradually gets worse

        Actually, one thing… might be failing storage.

        On a spinning disk I’d look at seek error rate, some models just keep retrying even if the head positioning accuracy has severely degraded due to age and wear… might not admit to actually “going bad” but if you use a SMART tool to look at the counters…

        On SSDs there isn’t any good universal indicator that I know of, but could name some models that are known to usually have been the weakest part in systems they were installed in.

        It has an SSD as well as plenty of disk storage.

        Um. What is on which and how old are those parts?

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2264915 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        The problem is suspiciously similar to one I had for maybe 2 years where my Win 7 64 bit Pro would ‘lock up’ for 1-3 minutes at irregular intervals, then proceed from there like nothing happened.  It was so badly ‘locked up’ that even HWiNFO64 and Process Explorer stopped cold, too!  The lights on my computer showed it was running the daylights out of the SSD C: drive and not hitting the 3GB D: hard drive.

        I monthly clone the SSD multiple times and the 3TB drive quarterly, as it’s just ‘long term storage’ for downloaded videos, and photos I have taken.  I even went so far as to buy brand new ones and still had the same problem.  Sometimes, it would occur between Windows starting up and the desktop screen being shown.

        I thought it might be device drivers, so I popped in the CD that came with the ASUS mobo and installed all the drivers again.  Still not fixed.  I then went to the ASUS web site and downloaded the drivers from there and the problem refused to go away.

        Knowing that it was happening before Windows got most of the way through initial startup, I started disabling the many Windows ‘services’ 2 to 5 at a time and when the problem popped up again, I disabled some more.  I got to the point where I couldn’t ‘normally’ use my computer because of all the disabled services.  So I finally gave up trying to fix it last October since I knew Win 7 support was about to end and I already had Win 10 on my new laptop, so I wasn’t completely inexperienced in Win 10.

        So, at the end of November, I popped in a brand new Win 10 Pro 64 bit DVD and let it do an upgrade.  Surprisingly, it never asked for the serial number for WIN 10. An hour or so later, up came Win 10 and my desktop looked just like it did before, all the programs were still there, etc.  Less than an hour later, to my dismay, the lockup problem was STILL there!!!

        OK, plan B: do a clean install on an extra SSD and go from there.  Fortunately, I have all the CDs and downloads for everything on my computer, and all but a game program last supported for Win XP installed without any problem.  ‘Freeze’ problem 100% GONE!

        Moral of the story, I’m reasonably convinced it was triggered by some Windows 7 update 2+ years ago that caused a device driver problem that carried across when I did the upgrade to Win 10.  The clean install of Win 10 used some kind of ‘new improved’ driver(s) that didn’t have the problem.

        If you really want to stay with Win 7, I’d suggest doing a clean install on a separate C: drive and reinstall all your software, move data, etc, etc, etc.

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2264939 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        This might be of little use as I only have a single solution.
        I had something very similar happen to me recently, but the freezes were much shorter and more spread appart.

        Using Task Manager, there does not seem to be anything unduly consuming resources.

        Open Task Manager and go to the Processes tab, then click “Show Processes from all users” (bottom left of Task Manager).
        Then click on CPU, near the top, so that the — sort of an arrow — is pointing down (sorting highest number to lowest – see picture).
        System Idle Process “should” be at the top much / most of the time (unless you’re rendering videos 😉 ).
        If any of the other process spends an inordinate amount of time at the very top, that’s your culprit.
        Keep an eye out for anything starting with “bd” That would be BitDefender. If it’s that busy try uninstalling it, but you’ll probably need the special un-installer provided by BitDefender tech support. They’re usually pretty good.

        After removing BitDefender start up your system (with the network disconnected because you never know).
        If it runs MUCH better then BitDefender was up to something (mine would get hung up trying to update virus definitions and I guess it was running that process hard, when it did run).
        For myself, I felt like doing a ‘science experiment’ and re-installed the latest version and had no problems since then.
        Your mileage may vary since it could be the SSD or something related to it, as bratkinson said. You wouldn’t be the first person who had hiccups from an SSD. Just sayin’ Also maybe a separate hardware issue as you suspect.

        Good luck and peace,

        Another Task Manager dive

        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by GLingner.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2265083 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks all for the responses.I was investigating a couple of the suggestions, when away it went again. It is so frustrating!
        I haven’t noticed any particular CPU Usage and Disk Activity spikes when freezeup has happened, simply because it is so unpredictable an occurrence, that’s why I was wondering if there is anything which would record such activities.
        All of the normal system activity takes place on the SSD which I believe is quite modern. I do have a large spinning disk but essentially that is purely for storage or regular backup activities. (I do also use external for backups as well BTW.) I’m pretty sure therefore I can rule out anything involving the disk, as that use is only by exception.
        Thanks in particular to bratkinson, your experience seems to match mine very much. I have halfway determined to go with a similar solution. I originally installed a lightweight version of Win7 on a separate (smaller) partition on the SSD when I acquired the PC, but only had a very few programs installed – in effect using it as a backup Win7 ‘just in case’! Well, I think ‘just in case’ has now arrived, so I have now adjusted my partition sizes and am now expanding that version so I can in future use it as my main operating drive. Only partway there yet, but so far I haven’t experienced the same problem thank goodness.
        Gary, I will investigate your suggestions further, although I will say I now have Bitdefender installed on the other partition and no problems so far.
        Thanks again for all the advice. Like I say, frustrating, because normally I have (and like) everything happening just so, with no inexplicable events! I’ll let you know how I get on.

      • #2265181 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        @garthp, I noticed something that you wrote early on in the discussion:

        I don’t think there is a problem with either disk space or defrag. I have about 10Gb unused on the main drive, regularly run disk cleanup via a specific cleanmgr Sage setting, and don’t expect to defrag, given I have an SSD.

        It caught my eye that you had but 10GB of storage left available on your main (SSD) drive. That sounds like a somewhat limited amount. Is it possible that the problem would go away if your drive (or partition) had more space available?

        Just a thought. Sometimes a lack of free space can lead to disk thrashing and slowdowns, although this is less of a worry nowadays with the large-capacity drives that are typically in use. (Not sure if SSDs are subject to thrashing and associated slowdowns from a lack of free space.)

        If this is ruled out as a possibility, then the only other thing I can think of is that there may be some kind of incompatibility among the programs that you have running (a program vs. Windows, one program vs. another).


        • This reply was modified 1 week, 6 days ago by Cybertooth.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2265276 Reply

        A couple of questions:
        * How much memory does your computer have?
        * Is your Windows 32-bit or 64-bit?

        It could be that you don’t have enough memory in the computer. 32-bit Windows maxes out at just under 4 GB of memory. 64-bit Windows has a much higher limit than that. Generally, you should have a minimum of 6 GB of memory in order to have a good experience; but I suggest that you go with 8 GB if you have 64-bit Windows, and if your computer will allow you to upgrade to 8 GB of memory.

        Also, I’m with Cybertooth: 10 GB of free space on your hard drive is not very much free space – it is enough, but just barely. I suggest that you do some cleanup on your hard drive, in order to open up more free space, because when you get much below 10 GB of free space, Windows can start choking here and there, because Windows does a lot of disk writes in the background. Of course, an SSD would be better than a mechanical hard drive; but for now, you definitely need more free space on your hard drive.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2265337 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks both.

        With Win7 64bit, I have 24Gb of memory, which should be ample for most circumstances. I was originally planning on running Win7 within a W10 VM, but couldn’t get the appearance and clarity right and gave up on that, so am left with much more memory than I actually need. In normal circumstances, use doesn’t exceed about 3½Gb.

        I had already decided to reorganise my use of the SSD, so have been rearranging things such that I will have around 15Gb spare for each operating system, in addition to creating a separate Pagefile available to whichever system is in use. I have also been generally cleaning things up, and whilst I have been in and out of the different ops systems quite a lot recently, at present things seem to have stabilised. Still a work in progress though!


      • #2265460 Reply

        I’m surprised no one has mentioned cpu temperature / overheating. My daughter had a similar problem with a computer that I had built for her a few years ago. When I opened it up I saw that there was enough dust, lint, cat hair to weave a large felt blanket especially in the cpu fan which would simply come to a complete halt after a time and then shut down the computer. After a thorough cleaning the problem was solved.

        4 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2265469 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Heat. You state you acquired the computer 2nd hand which means some age.  When ever I run into shut downs or stalls on customer’s desktops – I usually remove the Heatsink and clean off the old thermal paste on CPU and bottom of Heatsink, and apply NEW thermal paste (Artic Silver seems to work the best in my experience).  That solves lots of heat or shut down problems. I do this after applying all other software ‘fixes’ if any found.  Fan speed also is a factor.  Older computers have older components and a simple change out of fans is not expensive, either.

        (21 years full time comptuer Tech. . .and formerly with Gateway Computers before they closed)

        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2265472 Reply
        Canadian Tech

        I look after 120 Win7 systems. Over the last year, i brought every one to my desk and did a complete re-install. In most cases, I replaced the C drive as well. Not a single one of those machines has any problem at all. Every one runs like a well oiled machine.

        One of the biggest source of problems is badly designed/executed Windows Updates. if you will precisely follow the re-install plan outlined here, you will find yourself with a good machine.

        Canadian Tech: How to rebuild a Win7 system with minimal snooping


        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2265564 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        First, if this is a business system, quit wasting resources on it. Dump it and move on. But if this is a home system for fun and learning, then learn on.

        It sounds to me like a heat could be a factor, as mentioned above. But re-greasing the heat sink is a bunch of time that I would put lower on the priority list.

        Have you at the least blown out the dust? If you’re using canned air, use short blasts so as to not freeze delicate components.

        Replacing fans is usually easy and might help. (But I doubt it.)

        Next question: How old is that motherboard / CPU / RAM? Keep in mind that there is no such thing as perfect hardware. And over time with heating and cooling cycles, as the system heats up, there could be a gap that is occurring in one of the tiny traces on the motherboard or CPU or RAM. A short circuit somewhere can cause various weird things, such as hanging, or freezing, or other strange things. The bad news is that may be time to dump the motherboard. But that would actually be good news. Would you keep on beating your head on a wall? Stopping at some point would be a good idea.

        Next: Are there any clues in the Event logs? Open Event Viewer and look thru the Application and System logs near the time of one of the freezes. Look for applications that are hanging, or system power events, or disk errors.

        Next: have you run the System File Check: sfc /scannow ? If not, enter CMD at the Start search, right click on Command Prompt when it comes up in the list, and click Run as Administrator. Enter: sfc /scannow .

        If that comes up clean, run Checkdisk. Enter: CHKDSK in your command box. Respond Y when it asks if you want to schedule the scan. Exit the cmd box and Reboot. The scan runs during the restart.

        SSDs are less susceptible to file system errors, but I have seen weird things happen. When the scan finishes and the system completes it’s restart, check the Application event log and look for the most recent Wininit enter. Read the details of the scan and look for what errors were fixed.

        If all of that looks good, I would throw out Bitdefender. (Actually, I would have thrown Bitdefender out a long time ago. I went thru the alphabet testing several AV programs a few years ago and quit searching when I tried Webroot. I even jumped thru the hoops to sell Webroot to my clients – but no, I won’t sell it to you or anyone else I don’t know. I sell it as part of my remote access and security package. And yes, I’m in the process of re-writing my business operations plan in light of Covid-19. This is just freaking weird. And yes, I’ve been around a while. Started on mainframes and punch cards.)

        If you have gone thru all of that, then it’s time to re-grease the heat sink or throw out the motherboard.


        3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2265566 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Hmm… it just occurred to me… it could be the power supply is going bad. Power supplies are supposed to deliver several different voltage levels. Each voltage needs to be within a range. An old power supply could be within range when it starts up, but could drift out of range. When it does… boink.


      • #2265599 Reply

        Thanks again for all the responses.

        I have tried many of the remedial actions suggested, including checking Event Logs, the old favourite sfc /scannow (but not Checkdisk, although I will),  and absolutely nothing came up. The PC is a mixture of old and fairly new, essentially remanufactured about 6 months ago, and has a modern SSD with plenty of capacity. I know it had a new power supply fitted. (I don’t believe it has yet collected sufficient dust to interfere with operations.) I have concluded that there is probably some software inconsistency somewhere on that drive, but no idea what or how – maybe down to MS updates, maybe not. I’ll cut my losses on that, now.

        I do now have a working solution along the lines mentioned previously, it appears. I have fully duplicated the operating system in a dual-boot setup, and have effectively completed that. I have also altered the sizes of the drives on the SSD to make sure there is sufficient free operating space, partly by moving the paging file to a separate partition available to both systems.

        To cut a long story short, the new system now in use has not crashed, it utilises about 27 Gb and has about the same spare capacity on the partition. The old (and failing) system now uses 32Gb with about 18 Gb spare, and the pagefile now occupies most of the 27Gb on its (separate) partition. I rather thought that by making these changes I may have resolved the problems with the failing system, but after an extended test it is still faulty. It froze today some two hours after starting up, and nearly all of that time was doing nothing whatsoever. That will now have most programs removed, and then just kept as is, ‘in case’ I ever need it again; it remains the primary partition though.

        Much time spent, but I don’t mind that as an interested amateur. Indeed, a ‘home system for fun and learning!’ However, I have now a good operating system once more, so am calling an end to further trials and learning.

        Thanks to everyone for your advice, it is much appreciated.



        • #2266116 Reply
          AskWoody Plus

          What AV product are you using? A friend of mine had similar issues. He was using Avast. I had him uninstall Avast and then install Panda Dome. All of his computer issues went away.

      • #2265696 Reply
        AskWoody Plus

        Some decent freeware to monitor cpu loads and temps.  I refreshed an older pc, and had to replace the heat sink thermal paste.  Symptom was a sudden down, no message, just quiet and black screen.

      • #2265734 Reply

        I had a strange problem of computer rebooting (win 10 pro) at random no warning every test tried so replaced main drive with ssd drive so down time was about 20-30 max seconds before up and running again. This could be same problem here. It had 2x 8Mb ram chips =16MB. one slightly slower than the other as bought separately as upgrade. Although ram tested perfect out of machine and in machine what I discovered was that latency of one of them was not catching up with other as slower causing mostly reboot and sometime freeze. This problem was found virtually accidently by putting back in different order after checking motherboard ram sockets connectors. Reversing positions and fault came back! Worth a try if ram different speed or added later/manufacture.

      • #2265840 Reply

        Run Unix based diagnostics and load testers from a usb drive or a cd or dvd drive. Stays away from W7 and W10.
        I would pull and re-seat every thing on the motherboard and cards and drives etc. Corrosion anyone?

      • #2265902 Reply
        Paul T
        AskWoody MVP

        Try OpenHardwareMonitor to see voltages and temperature.

        cheers, Paul

        1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #2266031 Reply

        People bring me their mystery systems, still running but failing for no apparent reason or failing in various ways at various times.  I have to ask questions about hardware FIRST, as others have done in earlier postings.  Here are the more likely hardware failures.

        1. Is the hard drive failing?  Look at the SMART data for the drive for evidence of sectors gone bad, reallocated, pending reallocation, or even impossible to reallocate.
        2. What are the temperatures of the CPU and graphics card(s)?  If the system is freezing or shutting down due to overheating, why?  Are cooling fans clogged with dust and dirt?  If so, clean them with compressed air, q-tips and/or a softb-bristled brush.  Is the CPU cooling fan attached tightly?  If it is an old system, does it need a refresh of CPU thermal paste?  Laptop computers, with limited space for ventilation, are more prone to overheating than desktops.
        3. Make sure that memory pairs have the same operating voltage and timings, and that they are placed appropriately in DIMM or SODIMM sockets.  Preferably, use exactly matched pairs with the same part number from the same manufacturer.
        4. Inspect the motherboard for damage, more than likely bulging or leaky capacitors or possible corrosion from liquids.

        These are the most likely causes of hardware failure or unpredictability.  Once one is sure that the hardware is OK, move on to software troubleshooting.  Trying to fix software when the hardware is not right, only complicates matters.

        I will keep saying “Hardware, hardware, hardware first” as I post on Windows Secrets.


        1 user thanked author for this post.
    Viewing 22 reply threads

    Please follow the -Lounge Rules- no personal attacks, no swearing, and politics/religion are relegated to the Rants forum.

    Reply To: Freezing Win7 PC

    You can use BBCodes to format your content.
    Your account can't use Advanced BBCodes, they will be stripped before saving.