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Why does my Windows 7 system freeze after it sits inactive for a while?

by Lee Koo (ADMIN) CNET staff/forum admin / May 28, 2010 12:27 AM PDT
Question:

Need help; why does my Windows 7 system freeze after it sits inactive for a while?


I have a problem that is bothering me to no end. I guess not seeing it in front of you or being able to connect with my PC I would think it might be a challenge. But at this point maybe you can give me a few suggestions. I am running a fresh install of Windows 7 Pro. I have 3GB of RAM and I have 2 hard drives on my system. Every once in a while if I let my PC sit inactive and come back to do something, with it at the desktop or with a browser open, I will have to click my mouse three or four times and then my system comes to a complete halt and freezes--forcing me to turn the power off and restart my system. It goes through the process of loading Windows and asks me if or how I want to start my system, I always choose normally and not in safe mode. My question or problem is when and why my PC will freeze? What can I do, where can I look? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I have checked my device manager and everything is OK and no yellow warning marks. Maybe throw it out to the members/readers and maybe I'll get something or maybe you'll have an idea or two. I certainly would appreciate any help I can get.

--Submitted by Harry W. of Philadelphia, PA

Here are some featured member answers to get you started, but
please read all the advice and suggestions that our
members have contributed to this question.

Windows 7 Freeze --Submitted by waytron
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19411_102-0.html?messageID=3315792#3315792

We need more Information Harry --Submitted by charleswsheets
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19411_102-0.html?messageID=3313011#3313011

Power Management --Submitted by chlpatent
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19411_102-0.html?messageID=3312397#3312397

Sounds like Bios setting needs changed --Submitted by glen271
http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19411_102-0.html?messageID=3312778#3312778

Thank you to all who contributed!

If you have any additional advice or solutions for Harry, please click the reply link and submit away. As always please be as detailed as possible when submitting a solution. Thank you!
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not really enough info but some suggestions

is the pc go in sleep mode and the problem happens when waking up? possible cause could be the bios is configured for a deep sleep mode (s3) and the wakeup event is not handled via usb mouse/keyboard.

is there hard drive activity during the "freeze"? if so, you're not frozen, it's just busy.

how long do you wait till rebooting? i've noticed my win 7 laptop can sometimes take 20 sec or more to fully wakeup when configured for hybrid sleep (automatically hybernating after extended sleep). the desktop will be visible but nothing responds... i assume the delay is from fully restoring memory state from hiberfile.sys.

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Same problem and not enough info
by netsiu / May 28, 2010 1:44 PM PDT

I have had the same problem with my win7 install. It was driving me nuts because I built an exact copy of my comp for my wife and hers doesn't have the freeze problem. Thought maybe I had a defective MB.
Checked bios this start up and found the power manage but had no clue what the S3 or S1 were bu mine is set for S3. That will change next start up. Thanks

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addenum
by netsiu / May 28, 2010 1:50 PM PDT

Mine was also set to wake by USB device from bios. That I changed to "by OS".

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Windows 7 system freeze

Vista 64 bit does the same thing. I now put the PC to sleep whenever I will not be using it for more then a very short time. Not a solution, but a short term work around.

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Same here, except...
by JCitizen / June 19, 2010 11:49 AM PDT

my problem went away after SP2. So I think it was how the video driver was working and/or interacting with the OS. This was a factory custom build; so there shouldn't have been improper equipment installed.

My biggest issue since then has been DRM; but now ALL power options work like a dream!! The four times I reinstalled Vista Home x64 didn't hurt either, as far as fixing a lot of vexing little annoyances.

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Bad hardware is almost always to blame

Unfortunately this is most likely the very common case of bad hardware. In fact it's so common that I wrote a similar post a couple of years ago. It's a bit lengthy but I believe it still applies to your case.

http://forums.cnet.com/5208-7813_102-0.html?messageID=2912985#2912985

Since it appears you're running a desktop you actually have several more options on the table for identifying and replacing bad equipment. Having a similar computer available to you that works without any problems is invaluable at solving these problems quickly. I highly recommend trying to swap out parts (RAM, CPU, video card, etc) to see if it's any more stable. That's usually the best way to identify what piece of your computer is failing.

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bad hardware is actually uncommon
by GlassDeviant / June 12, 2010 1:19 PM PDT

In more than 25 years in the computer industry, I have only seen a handful of cases where the actual hardware itself was just plain "bad" from the factory. Every other incident could be traced to one of four things:

1) Outdated drivers, most commonly audio, video or DirectX (I include DirectX in this though it is not necessarily a driver, since it is closely related)
2) Improperly seated components; which can be IDE cables, add-in cards (audio, video, whatever), power connectors, front panel connections or, rarely, actual chips on the motherboard that have come loose due to shipping or thermal expansion.
3) Electrical surge from utility power (or a static shock, however one may have occurred) that literally fried the components.
4) PEBKAC - Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair.

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Windows 7 hangs

I don't know which processor you are using but, I have a Intel core i3 (laptop) and I had problems with it for the 1st 4 months I owned it. Most of the problems I had, had to do with when the computer went into "Sleep mode" or started running the screen saver. Then the computer would hang. You could restore the video drivers and this would help, but eventually you would be back to where it hung about 80 % of the time. From what I can tell, there were several issues that needed to be resolved. If your processor or computer has a NVIDIA graphics card, make sure you have the latest updates installed. Also, there were several Windows updates that needed to be installed that help resolve the issue. Now my computer is running the way it should have been when I first bought it, finally !

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Windows 7 system freeze.

In the control panel go to Power Options and set the "Set the Computer to Sleep" to NEVER. I think this will resolve your problem.
Hope this helps,
Cecil Lunsford

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Windows 7 & system freeze.

"Don't you just love MicroSoft" and "Buy a Mac" are the first two answers that popped into my head. A bit fictitious maybe but probably accurate. Lee has given you the best places to look at first and the most obvious I would think that would be causing your problem. If checking in those areas does not solve your issue, you can supply us with a bit more technical info about your hardware and we can go from there. Good luck.

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Buy a MAC; what a joke
by andyslaptop / June 11, 2010 6:17 PM PDT

Look MACs are all the same. They do not allow for the large amount of different hardware. Also, MAC is a Linux distro which has the same problems as WIN 7. My Linux laptop freezes when it goes into standby sometimes too. If you want a generic computer that everybody else has then go with MAC. Or if you actually have a brain and like variety and want to be able to have a system with a better graphics card and not have to spend a fortune on it (like a MAC) then stick with an original operating system like Windows, and not a LInux copy cat like MAC.

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Mac is NOT a Linux distro
by GlassDeviant / June 12, 2010 1:32 PM PDT
In reply to: Buy a MAC; what a joke

First, the Apple OS for their desktop and laptop computers is called Leopard or Snow Leopard, and it is a type of UNIX. Linux is not UNIX, it is a clone of UNIX developed independently due to the high price of UNIX.

Second, the Windows you get with your PC is not free, it is included in the price of the computer in places where Microsoft has managed to manipulate the PC vendors into including it by default. The only joke here is your complete lack of knowledge of the history of PCs and their operating systems.

Third, the only reason why a computer running Linux and an identical one running Windows (or even UNIX/Leopard) would exhibit this same behaviour is due to a hardware problem (unlikely), a BIOS problem (always update your BIOS) or a configuration problem (turn off hibernation and learn how to use the power switch, 15 seconds is not going to make a single bit of real difference in your life).

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Mac is NOT a Linux distro
by vizenos / June 13, 2010 5:52 AM PDT

Dear GlassDeviant:

Get a map of the Pacific Ocean. Draw an imaginary line between the island of Hawaii and the northeast coast of Australia. Approximately midway along this line, you will find a small chain of islands.

The people residing on those islands are the only people in the whole wide world who give a hoot whether OS X is Linux, Unix, BSD, or voodoo.

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Re: Mac's are all the same
by teacee90 / June 14, 2010 1:05 AM PDT
In reply to: Buy a MAC; what a joke

Your response is a joke, stating "Mac is is a Linus distro" first off its Unix, and if your Linux and windows 7, is having freezing issues, try adding more ram cleaning the spy-ware and maybe any viruses you may have on your Window systems. As far as hardware I have not found any that I can not use on the mac, except some of the low budget video cards that pc's can use, and yes there are high dollar excellent video cards for the mac, so if you want a Generic everyday average computer buy a pc, won't cost you an arm and a leg,if you connect with the internet be sure to have anti spy-ware, a virus program, firewall program, and comparing your pc to the apple mac pro 8 core that can hold 32gb of memory that is 2 years old, is still well ahead of most pc's PC=Volkswagon Mac=Rolls Royce
Let the War Begin MUHAHAHAHAHAHA>>>>>>>>>>HA!

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Windows 7 freezing after being inactive

I had a similar problem when I installed Windows 7 on my PC.
My problem was with creating a custom theme for the background.
The custom background was not getting saved and it locked up.
Make sure that you save the theme tat you are using or just use one that they provide.

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System Freezes and Windows not Responding Errors
by 20jen10 / June 15, 2010 6:50 AM PDT

My Dell Inspiron 1545 (brand new at Christmas 2009) came with Windows 7. The main issue I have is the "Not Responding" errors, especially when I try and access my Control Panel. It's almost a daily thing. Recently it's been happening with Windows Media player, but I've noticed in this case, it's when my computer memory is being exhausted by other programmes.

I use Avast as my running anti-virus software, and do regular scans with Threatfire, Iorbit Security 360 and Malwarebytes. I maintain my system at least weekly (registry and defrag, etc.)to free up memory using Advanced System Care. I also use ZoneAlarm for my firewall. I keep everything updated. I can't help but think there's either a hardware error with this model laptop, or software error with Windows 7.

My reason for posting this here (and after I got CNET's newsletter), is that I've also experienced complete system freezes when my laptop has been left running. Perhaps only 3 or 4 times over the last few months, but enough to think I might have a virus! However, each time, all scans run clear.

I've just tried to check what power options I have enabled, and guess what? My Control Panel is not reponding!! Very frustrating! I don't think I have the sleep option enabled, but I will check again, it might take a reboot though.

Any help would be fab! Let me know if there's any more info you need that might make the puzzle easier!

Many thanks,

Jen Happy

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power mgmt maybe?

when i read your post, the first thing that came to mind is power management, as it relates to the BIOS supporting it. you might see if there's a newer version of your BIOS.

i guess i run home to this solution because i had an issue somewhat like this, and it was fixed by a bios update. this probably isn't the right answer, but it's definitely cheaper and faster than swapping out hardware (unless you have extras on hand, in which case lucky you!).

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freezing

put on a screen saver to keep it busy

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Power Management

I had the same problems with Vista and Win7 on my desk-top PC's. My error logs indicated that certain program modules were not responding/would not wake up after an idle time - in particular, one associated with AVG. Initially, I uninstalled AVG. But I would still encounter some, though fewer hangs. After searching around the Internet, I found many with the same problem, always after a computer had been idle for some time. What happens when idle for some time? Power savings kicks in. Changing my power settings to high performance and tweaking them so that only the hard drives shut down when idle (after 20 minutes) no more hangs or freezes. In particular, go to Start Menu/Control Panel/Harware and Sound/Power Options then select "High Performance" and then "Change Plan Settings" make sure "Turn off the display:" is set to "Never" and that "Put the computer to sleep:" is also set to "Never" - then check the advanced power settings by clicking on "Change advanced power settings" You should see "High performance [Active]" and in a window a set of expandable items. Review them and adjust if desired, but watch for any "Power Saving Mode" options and be sure they are "Maximum Performance" such as the "Wireless Adapter Settings." Set any sleep or hibernate options to "Never." Be sure the "Sleep after" and "Hibernate after" are set to "Never" - under the "Sleep" item. This has worked for me anyway. I also disabled screen saver - I can just turn my monitor off manually to when I leave the room for a while. Of course, one would prefer that MS would deal with this issue - it has been an issue since at least Vista - so that we could take advantage of power savings modes...but until then, this is the way it is.

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All different kinds of issues

There are a lot of different factors that can contribute to Windows freezing up, but not a lot of possible solutions with the information we were provided. Do you have a screen saver running while the computer is idle, or does the screen just shut off? Have you installed an anti-virus program and is it up to date? Leave the Task Manager (Ctl+Alt+Del) running while you are away from the computer, and watch the processes tab closely when you return. What process is taking up the most CPU power? It's possible that a program running during idle is interfering with a program upon return to the PC. Or it's possible that the computer is trying to shut down the scnsvr.exe process for your screensaver and locks up during that call. Another place you could look is in the Error logs. Go to Computer (right-click)>Manage. In the Computer Management console, go to the left and double-click on Event Viewer, then Windows Logs, followed again by clicking "Applications." The window in the center will have a whole bunch of symbols. If you see a Yellow Exclamation Point or a Red Circle with an Exclamation Point, then follow up on those errors and you may find a solution to your problem. Hope this helps!

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Windows 7 system freezes after it sits inactive for a while?
by bcarr72_kc / June 12, 2010 7:14 PM PDT

Hi,

I'm running a Dell Inspiron 1545 dual boot Win 7
and Ubuntu Karmic Koala.
I have also recently been having system hangs after leaving the laptop
unattended.

I read all the posts on this subject and in my case i have found that by looking at the event viewer that my freezing seems to be due to
2 problems,

"Google update can not be found"
I guess in connection with google chrome.

Also an issues with modem dial up for my 3 dongle (huawei model)
" Huawei code tool exe stopped interacting with windows and was closed"

I am now looking into available fixes for these two apps on line. will keep you posted.

Love this Forum keep up the great work Happy

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system freezing

The problem is in the graphics and its not the computer or windows. This is due to solar activity...I know you are laughing, I'm not, I'm a scientist and the following will help.

1. Turn off computer and monitor
2. Unplug your VGA cable (or what ever cable you use) from the computer.
3. Unplug the power supply cable from the computer
4. Hold your on/off button in for about a minute to 1 1/2 minutes.
5. Plug everything back in and you should be all okay.

The solar activity will be getting worse so just beware it may happen again but I doubt it.

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duuuuude
by tje210 / May 29, 2010 3:51 AM PDT
In reply to: system freezing

if that's really the answer, you just blew my mind.

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freeze
by marklandfarms / May 29, 2010 4:44 AM PDT
In reply to: duuuuude

if your system seem to work fine after turning off all extra startup program, the way to find the one that your haveing the trouble with is long... you will need to turn on one at a time and test it untill you find the problem, it will take a long time but it will show you what is wrong.
then you will know how to fix it. I never had that type of problem before but I did that to find a problem with my startup error. and after a few days I found my problem and I fixed it. good luck and don't give up dude...

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Steps to take to find a solution to system freezing.
by bkberghuis / June 12, 2010 4:30 AM PDT
In reply to: system freezing

There are clearly numerous possibilities.... and one interesting SciFi theory from a self proclaimed scientist. ... It's really not that scarey. One of the best suggestions I have seen is to disable hibernation. If all else fails this is a definite work around.

I would start with a BIOS update as one suggested, then I would use a program from Microsoft called "Autoruns" and disable all of the unnecessary system start up applications. This will help eliminate the possibility of a rogue and poorly behaving application. Disable the screen saver, and update all the drivers to your individual components. Video especially. Well known common cause for instability is video drivers.... especially Nvidia. They were the biggest problem when Vista was released and the less than Tech savvy blamed the OS. Finally, I would go to the advanced power settings and individually modify the power hibernation settings and individually disable hibernation for the different devices. This may help you pin down badly behaving drivers or hardware. I have seen bad hardware be the problem as well, memory, motherboard, hard drive, power supply, and video card. However, almost all the hibernation problems I have seen came down to bad drivers. Good Luck! Remember the easy work around is to disable Hibernation.

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Ridiculous
by GlassDeviant / June 12, 2010 1:00 PM PDT
In reply to: system freezing

This is utterly ridiculous.

First of all, you have provided no scientific reason why this would cause Windows 7 (or any computer OS for that matter) to lock up, nor a reason why this solution would fix the problem.

What kind of scientist are you anyway?

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Computer Freeze

I'm not sure about Win 7 but previous versions I've had problems when setting the Energy Saver. When removing the settings the freezing stopped.

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Windows 7 freezes after sitting inactive

It has a short attention span

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re:short attention span
by davidaharon / May 31, 2010 7:05 AM PDT

That was funny ... thanks for the laugh of the day... read my reply above this answer seriously.

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Sytem Freeze. Check hardware

It is possible that you have a hardware issue. Run a memory test Memtest86+ a free programme that can be downloaded.

Next. How was Windows7 installed? Are the correct drivers for the motherboard and graphics installed following the Windows install. A CD or DVD that comes with the motherboard or system will have these drivers.
It is a good idea to state some original Windows install detail to help us understand your system.

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