How to “unfreeze” your computer without rebooting

By | April 5, 2011

Wanna know a little trick you can use to save yourself when you’re in a situation that seems to have only one solution? You know, when your computer completely freezes up and the only thing left to do is to resort to shutting off your computer at the switch and turning it back on.

Lots of things wrong with doing that, even if the consequences are not as bad in Windows XP or Windows Vista as they were in Windows 95, 98 or ME. In those older versions of Windows, shutting off your computer at the switch was like playing Russian Roulette – you never knew if your computer would start up again or die on the spot.

Even with Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7, shutting your computer off at the switch and then turning it back on should be done only when you have no other option. Some bad things can happen although seldom does it result in catastrophe.

Shutting your computer off at the switch and then turning it back on will certainly unfreeze your computer. It may also result in some serious Windows problems too. One thing is certain, you’re going to lose any documents you were working on. Also, restarting by turning the computer off and back on takes a lot of time. Windows is notorious for taking a long time to boot.

So, here’s a really nifty trick that has bailed us out more than a few times – you might want to memorize this one because someday you’re going to need it.

If you’re ever working in Windows and suddenly everything freezes, don’t panic. Don’t hit the “Off” button. Don’t take a chance on losing your work.

Windows XP Users – try this:

1. Press the “CTRL” “ALT” “DELETE” keys in sequence
2. Task Manager Appears
3. Click The “Processes” Tab
4. Find any and all instances of “Explorer.exe” and close them all by right-clicking and choosing “End Process”
5. If you’ve done this successfully your taskbar will disappear – don’t worry – that’s what you want.
6. Now, while you’re still in Task Manager, click “File” “New task” and type in “explorer.exe” (without the quotes)
7. Your taskbar should now reappear and your computer that was frozen should now be ready to go

Windows Vista & Windows 7 users
You’ll find this easier. (You can, however, use the CTRL+ALT+DELETE keys to get to Task Manager if you like.)

1. Right-click an empty place on your taskbar
2. Choose “Task Manager”
3. Click The “Processes” Tab
4. Find any and all instances of “Explorer.exe” and close them all by right-clicking and choosing “End Process”
5. If you’ve done this successfully your taskbar will disappear – don’t worry – that’s what you want.
6. Now, while you’re still in Task Manager, click “File” “New task” and type in “explorer.exe” (without the quotes)
7. Your taskbar should now reappear and your computer that was frozen should now be ready to go.

This trick will work most of the time – but not always. Sometimes you cannot even use your CTRL – ALT -DELETE keys. If this happens you’ll just have to shut ‘er down. And, then restart.

There are other ways to get to the Task Manager too – for instance CTRL + SHIFT + ESC will take you there too.

4 thoughts on “How to “unfreeze” your computer without rebooting

  1. tom

    Um, so what part of FREEZE isn’t clear? Unresponsive to any/all keyboard and mouse inputs is what I’d call “freeze” and I’d be happy to “memorize” something other than holding down the power switch until it shuts off.

    Reply
  2. Iagreewithtom

    Have to agree with tom here, my laptop has recently started freezing and the whole thing freezes, cant do ctrl alt del and cant move the mouse, sick of constant reboots!

    Reply
    1. Rosa

      Yes. My computer is totally frozen. No alt/ctrl/delete can help, and it won’t even reboot. Is there any other way to do this?

      Reply

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