Your computer is a machine destined to fail. While we’d all like to think our machines will boot faithfully until the end of the world, it’s just a matter of time before your hardware fails. Hardware failures can occur all of the sudden, but there are often tell-tale signs that something terrible is on the horizon. Below are several signs your computer is about to crash.
If your computer makes noises, then you’re having a hardware issue of some type, which means you’ll probably need to open the case to determine what’s causing the noise. There are only a few components in the computer that move and make sound, so unless the noise is a beep, then there is likely an issue with a drive or a fan. If you are not comfortable opening the computer case while the computer is running, be sure to take it to a computer repair shop to get tech support that can help find the cause.
Signs Your Computer Is About To Die Include The Following
If your computer suddenly makes weird noises inside the case, it it may mean the PC is suffering a catastrophic failure due to some mechanical defect. Or if can be nothing. The components that can generate noise in the PC are the fans (there could be several), CD or DVD drive, hard drive and power supply. You should start by ejecting any disks that might be inside of any of the drives. If there are no disks, and no activity lights on those devices, then it is likely one of the following:
Computer Makes Noises From Fan
You have at least one, but probably as many as three or four fans inside of your computer. You are guaranteed to have a fan in the Power supply. The power supply is at the back of the computer and has an exhaust fan. Some power supplies have another fan inside that draws air upward from the CPU so the exhaust fan can pull the heat out of the case.
You probably also have a fan on the CPU. The CPU fan will rest atop a metal heat sink. This fan is responsible for pulling the heat away from the CPU to keep it cool.
There could be intake fans in the front of the case and exhaust fans going out the back.
There could also be a fan on the video card GPU, which is similar to the CPU fan, but smaller.
A couple of things can happen with fans. They can simply be dirty and need to be blown out with compressed air. Or the bearings in them are starting to fail. If it is the latter, you will need to replace the fan. If the case is open, you can usually quickly pinpoint the fan that is causing the issue. If compressed air does not fix a noisy power supply fan, replace the entire power supply immediately.
Computer Noises From The Power Supply
The power supply can have a couple of noises. It could have a bad or dirty fan as described above, or it can be making an electrical humming noise. If blowing the fan out does not help, or if you do hear the electrical hum, unplug the computer and replace the power supply immediately.
Computer Noises From The Hard Drive
It’s not unusual for the hard drive to churn and hum as it works. If you notice loud noises above that, a few things can be happening. There could be physical defects on the platters, causing the high-speed head to bounce. It could have a bad actuator arm or read / write head. Both of these necessitate an immediate replacement of the drive. Or it could just be struggling to read and write due to a lack of space or maintenance. Check the remaining capacity and remove anything you can if the space is low. Then defrag the drive by going to Start>All Programs>Accessories>System Tools>Drive Defragmenter.
Note: Do not try and defrag your hard drive if you have a solid state hard drive installed. Defragging is only used on older-larger capacity (spinning) hard drives.
You might also want to run the Disk Checking Utility. This will scan for physical defects on the drive and mark them as non-usable. To do this, right-click the C Drive in My Computer and select Properties. Under the Tools tab, click the Check Now button and have it scan and fix any errors it finds.
Computer Continuously Reboots – Prevent Windows Restart Loop
If your computer continuously reboots while running, or if you see the flash of a blue screen before it reboot, then Windows is in a state where the only way it can attempt to fix itself is through rebooting. While this will work with the occasional system crash, it will not fix the issue if there is a drastic hardware or software problem. Instead, your machine will seem to be caught in a loop of starting up, crashing and rebooting. The key to solving this type of problem is capturing the crash message that is flashing on the screen.
It can be incredibly frustrating trying to troubleshoot a computer that flashes a BSOD before you can see the error message. You can stop Windows from rebooting after a crash by doing the following:
- Right-click My Computer (or This PC) From File Explorer.
- Select properties.
- Select the Advanced Tab.
- Under Start-up and Recovery, uncheck the Automatic Restart box and then click OK.
- Reboot the computer.
Now, when your computer crashes, you should see the confusing Blue Screen of Death along with an error code. You can search Microsoft.com for the exact nature of that code and take measures to resolve it. Depending on the error, you might try rebooting into Safe Mode by tapping F8 while booting and running a System Restore to revert your computer back to a time when it was not crashing. Or you might run the error checking utility in Windows to scan your computer’s hard drive for issues. You might also run a popular program called Memtest86 to scan your computer’s RAM for errors that could be causing system stability issues.
The first step in this process is getting the blue screen to remain on the screen, and preventing the automatic restart is the way to do this. You can then determine why your Windows computer is rebooting and crashing based on clues from the blue screen error. If your computer continuously reboots and you need additional help, need more help please join our free computer repair forums.
Signs Your Computer Is Overheating
Heat is a very common factor in computers shutting down and refusing to start back up. This is actually a safety feature designed to prevent your PC from bursting into flames. Typical symptoms of overheating can be the computer does a complete shut down and power off, and will not immediately start up if you press the power button. Or the computer will suddenly become extremely sluggish as the CPU gets hotter and hotter.
If the computer is powering off, try doing some general maintenance on the computer. Clean in and around the computer using compressed air. When blowing out your fans, place a finger on the fan itself so the bearings do not over-spin when you blow them out. Also, take a moment to clean the front and rear grills of the case.
You can also unplug the computer and use a vacuum specifically designed for computer and electronics. Ultimately, you may need to replace the thermal paste on the CPU.
Signs Your Computer Hard Drive Is Failing
One of the signs of computer hard drive failure is poor performance. While this could simply mean your computer needs some general maintenance, it could also mean your hard drive is dying or that there is some other hardware issue. Some computer manufacturers such as Dell and Lenovo have built in storage drive diagnostics. Try tapping the F12 or F10 key when booting to see if your system has this capability. If not, consider downloading and running the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD). Burn that to a disk and then boot to the disk to run a hard drive diagnostic tool such as ViVard.
SMART Error Messages and What They Mean
Most modern computers have SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology System) capable hard drives in them. SMART is a firmware on the hard drive that continuously monitors drive parameters such as error rates and overall performance. It uses a technology known as predictive failure analysis to inform you when a hard drive failure is imminent. Some of the errors you might see include:
- Hard disk failure is imminent.
- A hard drive in the system reports that it may fail.
- Smart failure imminent, back up your data
- Error 1720 Imminent Hard Drive Failure
If you see any of these messages, be sure to backup your data and consider the drive unreliable. You should work on having the drive replaced as soon as possible.
While older spinning drives are gradually being replaced by faster solid state hard drives, the larger capacity spinning drives are still an inexpensive way to store a lot a=of data. But being mechanical drives, the will eventually fail. Frequently running Scandisk (in older computers) or chkdsk can help you recover lost clusters on your hard drive. Hard drives can develop bad clusters over time, and those utilities can help retrieve corrupt data, and also prevent data from ever being written to those bad sectors again. Running these disk management tools will help reduce crashes and further loss of data. They may also help make you aware of impending hard drive failure.
Recover Lost clusters in a lost chain
A typical error, such as “lost cluster in a lost chain” indicates that data is present but there are no pointers pointing to that data. You can run chkdsk to attempt to recover the files, or you can simply repair the errors by selecting N when prompted for action. This will correct the errors but not save the data. Or you can press Y, which will attempt the associate a folder to that data. If a folder cannot be found, it will save the data in a folder labeled .xxx. The “xxx” is a sequential number, so the folder will probably be named .000 if the folder does not exist.
This utility exists in Windows 9.x systems, such as Windows 98 and ME. To access this utility, navigate to START>PROGRAMS>ACCESSORIES>SYSTEM TOOLS, then scandisk. You will be given the option to do a Thorough Scan, which is recommended as it physically scans the surface of the drive for errors. You can also specify if you want the errors corrected automatically, which is normally fine unless you want to attempt to recover the data.
Chkdsk is available in more modern Operating Systems. To run a chkdsk, go to My Computer (or This PC) and right-click the drive you want to scan, and then select Properties. Under the Tools tab, you will see a section for Error Checking. Click Check Now. Again, you will be given options Automatically fix the errors, or to attempt to recover the data. You may be prompted to reboot so this utility can run before Windows loads. This is normal.
Signs Your Computer Is Having Video Card Problems
If you’re seeing artifacts on your display, this could mean the video graphics in the system is going bad. This can sometimes be corrected by updating the graphics drivers, but in most cases, it means the card itself is failing. If you boot your computer and there is immediate evidence of artifacts on the screen, this is a bad sign.
If the screen is clear until you get into Windows, this means a driver update may be in order. You can get a driver update by visiting the manufacturer of the card, or make sure you have the latest Microsoft Updates installed–which often includes driver updates for your hardware.
No video on the monitor problems can be caused by several issues. While this is often a hardware problem with a video card, motherboard or even the cabling, there could be an issue with the configuration of Windows that is causing no video to be displayed. This can happen with a new install, an upgrade or even randomly for no apparent reason–usually because of an automatic update.
Troubleshoot No Video On Monitor Problem
More signs your computer is about to crash include nothing on the monitor. To begin, you should quickly rule out the monitor by checking the brightness controls on the front panel of the monitor. Next, make sure the monitor is plugged in and has light on near the power button. Lastly, disconnect the monitor cable. You should see a diagnostic image on the screen, stating something like “No Signal.” This indicates the monitor is okay and cable of displaying video.
You can troubleshoot a no video on screen issue, you can enter a low resolution mode to see if there are issues with your drivers. You can do this in Windows 7 and earlier Operating Systems by restarting the PC and tapping the F8 key. You should see the following menu. Select Advanced Boot Options screen, use the arrow keys to highlight Enable low-resolution video (640×480). You will then want to log into an account that has admin rights.
For Windows 8 and Windows 10, you will need to get into the Advanced Boot Menu Options by holding down the shift key and restarting the computer.
If you can suddenly see the Desktop, the no video on monitor problem is with your video adapter. Try updating the drivers. You can visit the manufacturer of the video card or PC and get the driver for your model. Download the driver and update it via the Device Manager of the Control Panel.
No Video Input On Monitor
If the above does not work, try a system restore. This should work if you previously had a display and can get into Safe Mode. To get into Safe Mode, tap the F8 key when booting and select Safe Mode from the boot options. Once Safe Mode loads, go to the Start button, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, System Restore. You will want to restore the computer to a date when you know the display was working properly.
The computer will reboot. You should now be able to see the Desktop. If you still have no video input on monitor, read though our other hardware tutorials or join our free forums for additional help.
Your Computer Freezes
A computer freeze–where the mouse no longer moves, the keyboard doesn’t work and nothing appears to be happening on the screen–can be caused by overheating or a bad hard drive. Clean the fans as indicated above, and then run hard drive tests.
Your PC Has Viruses
Signs of computer failure may simply be a virus infection. Poor performance, pop-ups and browser redirects can all be signs your computer has a virus. A computer virus is not only a significant security risk, but having a virus on your PC can render it almost useless. If you see you have a virus, you should do whatever it takes to have it removed. This will usually entail several hours of scanning and rebooting to finally clean the system, or you can take an hour to reset the PC back to factory defaults using the recovery partition on the hard drive or by using a genuine Windows install disk if you have one.
Let us know if you have any questions.