Dell laptops can have errors from time to time. One particular issue you can have is it freezes, and the only way to unfreeze it is to restart it but then it freezes again. So, today I thought I’d explain how to stop this occurring starting with the most common problems, here’s a quick summary.
Overall, the most common issue is caused by having VLC media player installed on it. Laptop repair people have noted that this is the most common cause, and it should be uninstalled and you should use a different media player. There are also many different fixes outlined below.
It’s difficult to know ahead of time what is causing the issue, which is a bit frustrating, trust me I know. However, the best way to stop it from occurring is to work through each of the steps – I’ll explain them in detail so that anyone can do them – until the problem no longer occurs.
Dell Laptop Keeps Freezing
When you pick up and move your laptop it can freeze where you can’t click anything and none of the keys work. It can also happen when you open up a file or open an application, as well as, when your laptop is asleep, and you wake it up. Here’s what causes this to happen on a Dell Laptop.
The incorrect timezone can be set in the Windows settings. This causes a conflict with programs that will cause it to freeze. It can also be overheating and you should blow out the dust in the extruder fan. Finally, there can be an issue with hardware or software that I’ll explain how to fix.
The first and most common fix is an issue that occurs because of VLC media player so I’ll start with that, and then I’ll tell you how to do the remaining steps you should take to stop your Dell laptop from freezing.
1. VLC freezes a Dell laptop randomly – VLC needs to be uninstalled
VLC is a very popular media playing program that has the characteristic orange road cone icon. In my experience it uses less ram than Windows Media Player. And is especially good at playing files that won’t play in Windows Media Player.
If you’re unsure if you have VLC installed on your computer keep reading where I will show where it will say if you have it installed. If you know you don’t have it installed then skip this step.
However, laptop repair specialists have noticed that it is a major cause, and some estimate it causes a Dell laptop to have the freezing issue 80% of the time. Therefore, it’s best to uninstall it and see if it fixes the issue from occurring. Then, once you’ve fixed the issue you can choose to reinstall it again.
Which is what I would do since I prefer using it. To uninstall it is very easy. Simply press the Windows key on your keyboard or click on the Windows icon at the very bottom of the screen to bring up the start menu. Then type on the keyboard ‘add remove’.
This will bring up a list of options, one of which will be ‘Add or remove programs’. Click on this and another window will appear. Inside this window a list of all of the programs you have installed on your computer will be displayed. Look for ‘VLC media player’ and click on it once.
That will highlight it, and then you can right click and select ‘uninstall’. It will say do you want to uninstall, simply click accept all of the options it asks you to uninstall it.
Following that it’s best to restart your laptop to let the changes take effect. Then, continue to use your laptop as normal, and see if it still freezes. If the problem persists, move on to the next step.
2. Incorrect timezone set in the Windows settings that creates a conflict
The time zone that Windows is set to is checked by various programs as they are running. Various programs on computers record what location you are in to verify licenses, and record accurately different timestamps which are used to revert changes such as deleting files.
If the timezone on Windows is different from the time zone where you are, this can cause a conflict in the background between programs and cause your laptop to freeze. To check and change the timezone click the right mouse button on the time and date at the bottom right of the screen.
This brings up a menu and one of the options says ‘Adjust date/time’. Click on that and some options will come up. It can be set automatically, as well as manually. When set to automatic it will show the time zone below that. If you select ‘set manually’, there is a drop down list of timezones, and you can set it to the timezone you are in.
For example, if you are in California set it to ‘Eastern Time (US & Canada). It can be a bit confusing because in certain cities the timezone can be called one this but has a slightly different name in the dropdown menu. For example, in California the time zone is commonly referred to as Eastern Standard Time (EST). Whereas, in the drop down menu it’s simply called Eastern Time.
You should get a good idea of whether you’ve got the right one or not by seeing what time it sets at the bottom right of your screen after you select an option, and can adjust it if you selected the wrong time.
3. Computer is overheating because the extruder fan is dusty
When a computer which also includes Dell laptops overheats there is a fail safe built in that can freeze your computer to stop it from damaging the external components on your computer. Over time there can be a build up of dust on the extruder fan that blows air from inside the laptop to the outside air. And keeps the internal components from overheating.
This build up of dust means less air will be blown out of a laptop and can cause the internal components to overheat more regularly. Or, quite often. Causing a laptop to freeze. There are specially designed one-use compressed air canisters that can be used to blow out the fan. These are specifically designed for use on electronics.
A conventional air compressor used by mechanics that you may have in your home is generally too powerful to be used on the electric components of a laptop. So, it’s best not to use one of these. Simply blowing it with a bit of force like you would blow out a candle can also remove any dust.
Windows 10 doesn’t have any way to check the temperature of your computer built in. But, there are various free software that you can use to see what the temperature is. Doing that can give you a good gauge as to whether your computer is running too hot.
4. Run Diagnostics from the BIOS on startup to identify any issues
There is a built-in diagnostics tool built into the hardware of a computer that will test the various components of your computer to identify any issues. These issues won’t automatically come up until the diagnostics tool is run.
Do this by restarting your computer, and then when the Dell logo comes up as it’s loading press the ‘F12’ key on your keyboard. It can be helpful to press it fast multiple times until a blue and green screen comes up. If you miss the timing you’ll need to restart your computer again.
There will be a list of options, but this menu can only be controlled using the keys on your keyboard. There is an option that says ‘Diagnostics’. Use the keys on your keyboard to highlight it, and then press the enter button on your keyboard. This will open up a new window with some additional options, and simply follow the instructions and press ‘next’, ‘accept’, ‘ok’.
It will then run diagnostics and it can either be completely fine. Or, it will give you a ‘validation code’ or a ‘error code’. If it gives you one of these codes, write down the number and contact Dell support via Facebook, or Twitter about what to do, and one of their representatives will help you.
5. Update the drivers for the hardware components on your Dell laptop
Drivers are software that communicate information from the different components of your laptop to each other. With each Windows update they can become out of date. This can cause a conflict between them and various functions in Windows.
In some cases they’ll be set to automatically update, or no new updates will be available for them. However, it’s worth checking that you have the most up to date drivers for your Dell laptop. There is a special Dell software installed on Dell laptops that makes this very easy. Press the Windows key at the bottom left of your keyboard.
Or, click the Windows icon on the bottom left of the screen. This will bring up the start menu and then type in ‘support assist’ on your keyboard. This will show ‘Support Assist’ on your start menu and click it with your mouse.
This will open up the Support Assist app. There are 4 big options in the center of the app, there is one on the far left that says ‘Get Drivers & Downloads’. On this option there is a button that says ‘Run Now’. Click that and it will search and show you any available updates. If there are any updates available on the top right will be an option that says ‘Install’.
Click that and it will update all of the drivers that need updating.
The last two steps are shown in this video from Dell. However, if none of these steps work, then follow the remaining steps in the video until your Dell Laptop no longer freezes:
Dell Laptop Freezing Randomly
A Dell Laptop, computer, or any other laptop can freeze at an inconvenient time. And sometimes it’s easy to tell what causes it, whereas, other times it’s completely random. So, here’s what causes a Dell Laptop to freeze randomly.
In general, it’s caused by a conflict with VLC media player which needs to be uninstalled, by the timezone on Windows set to a different timezone, overheating caused by a dusty extruder fan, drivers being outdated, or an error on the harddrive.
I have provided step by step instructions for how to run through the fixes for these troubleshooting steps at the top of this article. Scroll to the top and start with step ‘1. VLC freezes a Dell laptop randomly – VLC needs to be uninstalled’. And then work through each of the steps until the issue has been solved.
Dell Laptop Freezing on Startup/Dell Logo/Logon
As a Dell Laptop if starting up it can freeze and you can’t log in, it doesn’t get past the Dell logo, or as Windows is loading it will freeze. Here’s how to fix this issue.
Restart the laptop and press F12 repeatedly as soon as you do. This will start the BIOS which will appear as a blue and grey screen. From this screen only the keys of the keyboard will work. Select ‘Diagnostics’, and follow the prompts.
This will print out an error code, or a validation or error code. If it does present an error code then make note of the code on a piece of paper or your phone. Then go to the Dell Facebook page on that page is a link to the special page for Dell Support where you can contact them and let them know the issue.
You can also send a tweet and tag:
@DellCares – For Home and Small Business Support
@DellCaresPRO – For Business and Enterprise Support
And one of their representatives will assist you from there.
Dell Laptop Freezing After Sleep
A Dell laptop goes to sleep by pressing the power button, closing the lid, or after a certain amount of time when you open the lid. When you press any key or move the mouse it can freeze, and you need to restart your Dell laptop again. This is a major inconvenience since it should wake up and be instantly usable, so here’s how to fix it.
First check that the drivers for each of the components on your Dell laptop are up to date, uninstall VLC media player, ensure the correct timezone is set for Windows, and if run ‘Diagnostics’ from the BIOS.
Step by step instructions for these troubleshooting steps are provided at the top of this article. Go to the top and work through each of the steps until the issue is resolved. Start with step 1, which explains how to uninstall VLC media player.
How Do You Unfreeze a Dell Laptop
During normal operation, or when you open certain applications a Dell Laptop can freeze. To unfreeze it there are a few solutions. Here’s what they are:
Attempt to press the ‘Ctrl’, ‘Alt’, and ‘delete’ buttons all at the same time. If this works it will bring up a list of options. The last option is ‘Task Manager’ and close any programs that aren’t responding. If pressing these three buttons simultaneously doesn’t work, restart your laptop.
Programs that have frozen in the ‘Task Manager’ list will say ‘Not Responding’. You can right click on it and select ‘End Task’. It’s common that only one program will freeze, which freezes the screen on your laptop. When you force close it, your laptop will be usable again.
Holding down the power button for more than about 5 seconds will restart it. But if this doesn’t work, then unplug the battery on your laptop, wait for 5 to 10 seconds, and then plug it back in.
If you’re not using a battery, unplug the power cord for your laptop. Then plug it back in and turn your laptop again.
In general, run Diagnostics by entering the BIOS after restarting your Dell Laptop. To do that press F12 repeatedly when the Dell Logo appears. One of the options is ‘Diagnostics’ , select that by using the up and down arrows on the keyboard and pressing the ‘enter’ key.