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How do I fix a frozen or locked application?

Apps can freeze or lock up for a variety of reasons, including bad memory, operating system issues, update problems and more.

Troubleshooting a frozen or locked application can be a frustrating experience because there are countless potential culprits.

If a user has problems with a frozen application, check if anyone else is having problems with the application -- and if the user's system is configured comparably to everyone else's. If multiple users are having trouble with the application, then it may be buggy. In contrast, if only one user is experiencing problems, the issues are probably confined to the specific user.

If the problem is isolated, it's a good idea to check for hardware problems. Bad memory is an especially common offender with frozen apps. Keep in mind, however, memory isn't the only component that can cause application lockup problems, it's just the most common. Lockup problems can also be attributed to the CPU, storage or just about any other hardware component.

While you examine the system's hardware, make sure the PC's fans work. Apps often lock up when a processor overheats.

Plenty of operating system issues can also cause applications to behave badly. If you suspect an operating system level problem, check all the system's device drivers are correct and up to date. You might also try removing and recreating the Windows page file. Sometimes page file level corruption leads to stability problems.

On a similar note, it's a good idea to run Windows Update and verify all available updates are installed. Often the operating system updates include bug fixes, so a simple update might fix a locked app.

Next Steps

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This was last published in December 2015

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