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How to fix a Dell Inspiron laptop that keeps freezing? [Troubleshooting Guide]

This post will help you troubleshoot and fix a Dell Inspiron laptop that keeps freezing, otherwise referred to as system lock up problem. It’s when your computer suddenly stops responding. The problem could be due to a software malfunction. It can be isolated to a computer program, or the operating system itself. Other lock-up issues are triggered by some piece of faulty hardware including external devices attached to the computer like printers, scanners, media card readers, USB storage devices, and others. System lock-up problems are also tied to memory issues like when the computer’s internal memory is running low.

The same thing can happen when the computer’s processor is too busy and thereby causing the device temperature to rise. Computers can freeze up when they overheat. In worst case scenarios, freezing issues may surface among other symptoms of hardware damage on the computer like broken cooling fan or damaged heat sink.

If you are looking for a solution to a different problem, drop by our Dell Inspiron troubleshooting page for we have already addressed some of the most common issues with this machine. Browse through the page to find problems that are similar with yours and feel free to use the solutions we suggested. If you still need our help after that, then you may contact us anytime and tell us about your issue.

What to do when your Dell Inspiron laptop keeps freezing?

The first thing to do is identify the underlying cause. To help you do so, try to think of when the first lock up has occurred. Did it happen after hours of video streaming or installing new programs? As much as possible, try to determine if the problem is isolated to a computer program. Once you have verified and confirmed the underlying cause, that’s when you start working on a solution. But if you just couldn’t pinpoint the main culprit, you can always go for a trial-and-error approach. Highlighted below are generic solutions you can try on should you wish to troubleshoot the same problem on your Dell Inspiron laptop.

Before you proceed, remove any external devices or USB paraphernalia attached to your laptop. Sometimes external devices can cause conflict to the computer system, which eventually inflicts adverse symptoms to occur like sudden lock up or freezing.

First solution: Quit the offending program.

If your laptop freezes only when using a certain program, then it implies that the program is at fault. As an immediate action, close the offending program. If the program is unresponsive, use the Task Manager to close it. The usual way to launch the Task Manager on Windows computers is by pressing the Ctrl + Alt + Del keys simultaneously or Ctrl + Shift + Esc keys for a faster route.

Second solution: Forced restart.

If your laptop won’t allow you to open the Task Manager as it’s totally unresponsive, then you can do a forced restart instead.

  1. To do so, press and hold the Power button on your laptop for a few seconds or until it powers off.
  2. Or if necessary, you can just unplug the AC connector and remove the battery.

Third solution: Let your laptop cool down.

Heat build up likewise cause your laptop to freeze at times. This usually occurs with prolonged and heavy usage, which eventually caused the processor to become exhausted. That being said, try to feel the laptop chassis. If it’s getting hotter than usual, then that’s likely causing your laptop to freeze.

Also check and ensure that nothing is obstructing the  airflow. Dust can block the heat and air to pass through the vents on your laptop thus need to be cleaned up. But before cleaning up the vents, power off your laptop, remove all power sources, then use a compressed air can to blow the dust out of the vents. Use the compressed air according to the directions on the side of the can to prevent causing damage to the computer. Don’t use your mouth to blow the dust out of the laptop to prevent moisture that eventually cause permanent damage.

Fourth solution: Check the current memory status.

To rule out the possibility of insufficient memory causing performance degradation on your laptop as manifested by frequent system lock up. Here’s how to view the available and used memory on your laptop:

  1. Open the Task Manager.
  2. Go to the Processes tab. There you will see all various processes running on your computer.
    • If you have opened any program, close it then take a look at the percentage of physical memory used.
    • If it shows a large percentage in use even without any programs running, then that’s likely the problem.
    • If the physical memory is mostly free, try to open the last program you have used then open one program at a time. Doing so will let you determine if any of your frequently used programs is taking up all the memory space on your laptop.

Alternatively, you can run a memory test through the Windows Memory Diagnostics Tool.

  • To launch the tool, open the Start Menu then enter Memory in the search bar.

Note that running the diagnostic tool involves automatic reboot on your device.

If your laptop is already running low on memory space, you can remove unnecessary files, uninstall unwanted programs and turn off background processes. You can also transfer some of your important files to an external drive. Defragging the hard drive, cleaning up of the memory, and RAM upgrade will prevent performance issues from occurring on your laptop including sluggishness, frequent crashing, and freezing.

Fifth solution: Boot into Safe mode.

Safe mode prevents non-crucial programs and drivers from running. This will let you rule out the software as a possible root cause of the freezing and lock up problems on your laptop.

Here’s how to boot into safe mode:

  1. Start your laptop.
  2. Tap F8 on the keyboard immediate on every one second until the Dell logo screen is gone. You will then see the Windows Advanced Options menu on the screen.
  3. If it doesn’t show the Windows Advanced Options menu, restart your laptop then tap F8 again.
  4. Select the Safe Mode with Network option and press Enter on the keyboard.
  5. Log on to your computer as administrator or as a user with administrative access.

Open programs and test your laptop while running in safe mode to see if it still freezes. If the problem does not occur while in safe mode, then it is more likely tied to a faulty driver or buggy software. Identify which driver or software is causing conflict then. Otherwise, check your device for some malware or run a virus scanner.

Sixth solution: Revert your laptop to a more stable state using System Restore.

This option can be found in the System Tools folder. It will help address the problem especially if it’s triggered by some malware, corrupted driver, or buggy software update. You can roll back your system to a prior date from the onset of the system lock up problem. After reverting your system to a more stable version, update your drivers and run a virus scan.

If the problem persists and re-occurs to the point of you being unable to use your laptop anymore, then a total system reformat would be necessary. This however will erase every data from your laptop. But on the positive note it will give your laptop a clean fresh start.

Contact Dell or Microsoft Support

If none of these is able to address the problem and that your Dell Inspiron laptop is still freezing, then escalate the problem to Dell Support for further assistance and recommendations. If you believe that the problem is on Windows operating system itself, contact Microsoft Support instead.

Meanwhile, if you suspect that a faulty hardware is to blame,then you can just take your laptop to a service center and have it diagnosed by a computer technician.

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