The top reasons for a computer crash include overheating, outdated hardware, memory shortages, corrupt drivers, and malware. The underlying causes could be any of the following hardware or software conditions. Look into them further if you’re encountering frequent crashes on your PC or laptop.
Make sure your PC is not becoming too hot. Learn how to check your CPU temperature in Windows.
1. Deteriorating Laptop Battery
A worn-out battery can cause overheating in your laptop. It results in frequent crashes, as the PC has to protect the CPU and other hardware.
Watch for the following warning signs of a deteriorating laptop battery.
- Does it lose charge much faster than it used to? That indicates an aging battery with reduced capacity due to voltage-ampere mismatch.
- If your bottom case gets too hot when charging, your battery may have swollen a bit (again, a capacity issue). It is better to operate such a laptop solely on AC supply.
You don’t have to physically examine a battery to understand its condition. On a Windows 11/10 device, check the battery’s capacity using the following PowerShell command (in Admin mode).
powercfg /batteryreport /output “[Folder Location of your choice]\battery-report.html"
The above command will save a battery health report in HTML format and can be opened in any browser. If the full charge capacity is extremely low compared to its design capacity (in mWh), then it’s time for a battery replacement. The report may also indicate any signs of physical damage.
If you have a MacBook, go to the “Apple Menu -> System Information -> Hardware -> Power,” then scroll down to check the battery’s “Condition” field. If it reads “Normal,” then you have nothing to worry about. However, if it shows “Service recommended,” you may have to go for a battery replacement.
To double your laptop battery life, remember the 80/20 rule. The device must be charged to 80%, then drained back no less than 20% to get twice as many cycles than discharging it fully every time.
There is no harm, though, in keeping a laptop constantly plugged in. The battery will automatically stop charging after it reaches max capacity.
2. Motherboard Issues
A motherboard is the heart of the computer. It controls the routine operations for everything there is in your PC: the CPU, GPU, USB ports, RAM, and SSD.
If something goes kaput on the motherboard, you will face frequent crashes due to blue screens and CPU overheating. Have a good look at any faulty connections after unscrewing the laptop’s bottom casing. Examine malfunctioning PCI-E ports and displaced RAM slots, as well as the system fan, USB ports, and video slots.
Most of us, though, will call on a hardware specialist when it comes to crashes taking place under the hood. A better way to diagnose motherboard problems is to check the health of each important motherboard component individually. This is easier, as you don’t have to open the laptop case.
Let’s start with the CPU and GPU. For those with an Intel chip, there is the Intel Processor Diagnostic Tool. It administers a series of rigorous tests that the processor must pass for a crash-free experience. AMD has a similar System Monitor. If you’re using an Apple Chip, restart your Mac, hold down the Power button, and turn on the Apple Diagnostics tool by pressing Command (⌘) + D.
For a more comprehensive analysis of other hardware issues, use a hardware diagnostics toolkit software such as PC Doctor. The toolbox supports Windows, Mac, Android, and ChromeOS PCs.
Tip: learn how to make your gaming laptop last longer on battery power.
3. Power Supply Failure
A bad power source on a laptop is a big reason for random reboots and crashes. Verify that there is nothing wrong with the plug points, mains power cable, or Uninterrupted Power Supply. The electrical faults can ignite sparks and smoke in a laptop AC adapter, meaning you can’t use it ever again.
Always ensure your adapter charging cable is properly inserted and that there is no physical damage. If a laptop shows a status such as “plugged in, but not charging,” your only option is to replace the adapter. Is the laptop adapter overheating all the time? That’s a predictor of more frequent crashes.
Likewise, for a desktop device, slide down the side panel and check whether the Power Supply cable is properly inserted in its allocated slots. If the connections are loose, the system may crash at any moment.
When the power supply is dead, a computer will not start at all. In some cases, you will only encounter temporary disconnections, which are still annoying. They are accompanied by a blue screen of death (BSoD) and other system crashes.
4. RAM Problems
Is your RAM performing poorly? When it can’t handle the dynamic memory demands, your PC or laptop randomly restarts or freezes for no reason. Imprecise RAM display, plummeting system performance, and BSoD are some of the symptoms of faulty RAM.
From a hardware perspective, check whether the RAM stick is properly seated in its allocated slots. It should firmly lock with the ridges in their slots. Wipe off any dirt adhering to the RAM to ensure a smooth run.
Not having sufficient RAM is a bigger factor, though. Whenever you run out of memory while running CPU and RAM-intensive programs, you will experience display freezes or system crashes as the processor buckles under a huge load.
If you don’t have sufficient RAM, it is important to know if you can add more. In Windows 11/10, one way to check this is by using the following command in Command Prompt (Admin mode.) The output value is in KB, which has to be divided by 1048576 for conversion to GB.
wmic memphysical get MaxCapacity, MemoryDevices
If you want to find out the maximum RAM capacity of a Mac or Linux device, then we have you covered. Also, keep an eye out for system errors, such as “Memory error detected” or “Insufficient RAM,” which indicate that the system is being underutilized.
5. Hard Disk/SSD Failure
Whether you use a hard disk drive (HDD) or solid-state drive (SSD), once it’s nearing failure, system crashes will become common. There are many early signs that your hard disk is failing, such as increasingly longer boot times, blue screen messages, BIOS errors on startup, and lessened file integrity.
However, in most cases with Windows, you only encounter simple errors that prevent you from opening the drive folder path. These basic hard drive problems can be solved using a
chkdsk command in Command Prompt. If the hard disk is corrupted beyond repair, then it needs replacement.
Similarly, on a Mac device, you can use the “Disk Utility” app from the Utilities folder of your Applications folder to repair any disk volumes that may have been corrupted due to incompatible files and folders.
If you’re an SSD user, it is furthermore important to acquire more storage capacity. Many people buy a 128 or 256GB SSD thinking it will be enough, but it really isn’t. Without an SSD upgrade, the system finds it harder to store temporary files and updates that take place.
6. Registry and Driver Errors
A corrupted registry will prevent the firmware from reading important boot data, such as MBR. Similarly, if your device has some outdated or missing drivers, it won’t display the information for them when you need those entries. Both scenarios will lead to unexpected computer crashes, especially in Windows.
On a Windows 11/10 computer, open “Device Manager” from the search menu. Check for any exclamation points in the mentioned hardware. These are a source of error. If the drivers are missing, update them through a right-click.
For any missing driver or corrupted registry issues, use a DISM command to restore the system’s overall health.
DISM.exe /Online /Cleanup-Image /Restorehealth
You can also use the Registry Editor in Safe mode to prevent file corruptions that can be fixed using System Restore. You can further defragment it to take care of the problem caused by disorganized files.
7. Antivirus Conflicts
Whether you use a Windows PC or MacBook, it is recommended to use its respective system antivirus defaults. Apple has XProtect to provide multiple layers of defense against any malware attacks, whether in the App Store or hard disk. Your system just can’t do without it, and uninstalling the built-in protection can only lead to system crashes.
For Windows, it is Windows Defender which, through consistent trials for Windows 11 and 10, has proven more effective than any standalone antivirus program, as it works with the latest Windows security features, such as Secure Boot, Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and Core Isolation.
Using a third-party antivirus, in many cases, may remove the core protection enabled by such a powerful built-in Windows protection engine. If you really want to use another antivirus, ensure that it is easily installable.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do games keep crashing on my PC?
When you find your PC games crashing, it indicates that they are designed for a higher frame rate that isn’t supported by your computer’s display unit or GPU. You need a proper gaming laptop.
If low GPU games crash on your device, then it may be due to insufficient RAM and SSD.
How do I stop my PC from crashing after opening Control Panel or File Explorer?
If opening the Control Panel or File Explorer is leading to PC crashes, try the following solutions. First, uninstall any recent programs by clicking Win + X, followed by “Installed Apps.” If that doesn’t work, go for a System Restore to send your device back to a recent configuration. Run the System File Checker using
sfc /scannow in Command Prompt.
Does a PC crash damage the hardware?
A PC crash will not damage the core hardware, such as CPU, GPU, RAM, and other motherboard components. Frequent crashes can, however, corrupt the operating system, turn your hard disk/SSD unusable (it can be replaced, of course) and wipe out all of your saved data.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots are by Sayak Boral.
Our latest tutorials delivered straight to your inbox