Wolfen, a member of the LockerGnome community, asks:
Computer crashes and freezes can happen to anyone, using any kind of hardware, running any kind of operating system, of any level of tech expertise. And because any number of things could cause your computer to crash or freeze, it’s important to know how to effectively troubleshoot — to whittle away unlikely reasons for the problem — in order to identify the root of what’s really causing it.
You want to start with the simplest things — making sure that power supplies and physical switches are plugged in and clicked on as intended — before moving on to more complicated potential causes for a computer crash or freeze. You don’t want to dismantle your entire system only to discover that the problem all along was the fact that you were using an improper adapter that wasn’t powering your system properly.
Stripping away hardware can sometimes solve the problem. Maybe an external hard drive is on the fritz, and disconnecting the broken old thing keeps your system from constantly searching for it.
Sometimes the problem is an errant driver. In some cases you may have to reinstall the operating system to rid your system of the bad driver’s footprint.
Sometimes you might install a bit of software that just doesn’t, for whatever reason, want to play nicely with your system. Stripping away this software — going backwards from most recently installed to next recently installed (and so on) may put things back to normal.
Looking at log files, when your computer crashes, can tell you (or a more experienced user, if you’re not sure how to read them) a lot about the things that cause computer crashes and freezes. Using a search engine like Google to look up error codes that show up in these logs can often give you simple explanations and solutions to the problems you’re experiencing.
In this video, Chris Pirillo talks about his experiences with troubleshooting, and shares some of the solutions he’s discovered for dealing with computer crashes and freezes in his considerable time spent behind the keyboard.
When all else fails, I heed the immortal words of Roy Trenneman: “Have you tried turning it off and on again?”