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How to Fix a Frozen Windows PC

Windows 10 PC showing a blue screen error.
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Windows PCs freeze for a variety of reasons. One instance might be a fluke, but repeated freezes suggest a problem you’ll want to fix. Here’s how to unfreeze and recover a stuck PC—and stop it from freezing again.

How to Unfreeze a Frozen Windows PC

There are several ways you can recover your frozen PC, depending on what caused the problem. Sometimes, all you have to do is wait a few seconds—the PC might get hung up while doing some work and unfreeze itself a few seconds later.

If a full-screen application, like a game, freezes and prevents you from leaving it, press Alt+F4. This closes the application if the game is just experiencing graphical problems, but it won’t work if the application has frozen completely.

To see if the computer is still responding, press Ctrl+Alt+Delete. From this screen, you can open the Task Manager (and close any running applications), or log out of or restart your PC. If this screen doesn’t appear, you might not be able to recover your PC without rebooting it.

Open "Task Manager" from the Ctrl+Alt+Delete screen.

If you can open the Task Manager, you might be able to recover from the freeze. (You can also press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open the Task Manager.)

Select the “Processes” tab—if you don’t see it, click “More Details.” Locate any processes using a lot of CPU—you can click the “CPU” column header to sort by CPU usage and see the most demanding processes at the top of the list.

Click a process to select it, and then click “End Task” to forcibly end the program. You’ll lose any unsaved work in the program, but if it’s crashed and is using a lot of CPU, there might be no way to recover your unsaved data, anyway.

Click the "CPU" column to sort by CPU usage. Click a process to select it, and then click "End Task."

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