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How can I troubleshoot a frozen PC?

Sometimes users' desktops freeze up when they're in the middle of working on them. It's often easier to reimage the PCs, but there are troubleshooting steps you can take first.

A frozen PC can be frustrating to troubleshoot. There are so many different issues that can cause a PC to lock up, but the cause isn't usually obvious. In enterprise environments, it is probably quicker and easier to reimage a PC, but sometimes IT administrators must troubleshoot.

To start troubleshooting a frozen PC, first consider whether or not the machine is running a clean OS installation. If the PC has a freshly installed OS or runs a known good image and it's still frozen, then the problem may be a missing or incorrect device driver. It could also be a hardware problem, such as a bad memory module.

If the machine does not run a clean OS installation and it's not possible to performing a fresh install, then start the troubleshooting process by looking through the event logs. The system and application logs might contain clues about the cause of the lockups.

Uninstall any unnecessary software from the machine, then download and install the Microsoft Autoruns tool. Autoruns offers a comprehensive view of everything that is configured to run when the system boots. Removing unnecessary boot processes frees up some memory, but administrators might also need to remove buggy or malicious code. That code could be the root of the machine's boot problems.

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