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HP Notebook PCs - Notebook Stops Responding when Using a Program (Windows Vista)

This document pertains to HP Notebook PCs with Windows Vista.

Identifying lock-ups and freezes

This document will help you to locate and troubleshoot programs that cause your notebook to hang, freeze, or lock-up. Print this document or save it to your hard disk drive to have the reference available after disconnecting from the internet.

Symptoms of notebook lock-ups, freezes, and hangs include:

  • Nothing moves or blinks on the computer display.

  • The computer will not respond to the mouse or keyboard.

  • An error message appears and will not go away.

Freezes, crashes, and lock-ups may be caused by programs locking up resources, software conflicts, or older programs being incompatible with newer operating systems. Follow the steps in this document, in order, until the problem is resolved.

Step 1: Reduce heat inside the computer

Using programs with high graphics requirements can tax the normal graphic chip and the central processing unit (CPU), generating excess heat. The excess heat reduces the computer's performance. If you use programs with high graphics requirements, you should use a computer with a separate graphics processing unit (GPU). Some models can be configured to switch from the standard graphic chip to a high-performance GPU on demand.

Use compressed air to keep the air passages in your system clean, free of dust and dirt. For additional information, see Why Computers Generate Heat or Reducing Heat and Fan Noise by Cleaning Air Vents .

Step 2: Close locked-up programs and locate problem software

If your notebook locks up or stops responding while using a program, close the stalled program to continue using other programs. Also, while closing the program, take note of which other programs are running at the same time.

  1. While holding down the Alt key on the keyboard, press the F4 key to close a software program that is not responding.

  2. Press ctrl + shift + esc to open the Task Manager.

  3. Write down the names of the software programs that have stopped responding from the Applications tab of Task Manager.

  4. Click the software program that is not responding, and click End Task .

    NOTE: If Explorer has stopped responding, click File , New Task (Run...) , and enter Explorer into the field to restart Windows Explorer.
  5. Continue clicking End Task for software programs that are not responding until all unresponsive software programs are removed from the list.

    Click a window outside Task Manager.

    • If Windows becomes active again, the problem is related to software. Save your work and restart the computer. Remember the name of the software programs that stopped responding. Update or remove software programs that continue to lock up. Troubleshooting is complete.

    • If the lock-up persists, continue troubleshooting using these steps.

  6. Look for processes that are causing the lock-up:

    1. In Task Manager, click the Processes tab, and then click Show processes from all users .

    2. Look in the CPU column. If 99 is listed in the CPU column next to any Image Name other than System Idle Process, write down the Image name.

    3. Look in the Memory column for numbers that are increasing. If you find a number that is increasing, watch the number for ten seconds or more to verify that it continues to increase, and then write down the Image Name.

    4. In the Image Name column, click the process you wrote down, and click End Process . Continue ending the process for each Image Name that is associated with the lock-up.

  7. Click a window outside Task Manager.

    • If Windows becomes active again, the problem is related to software. Save your work and restart the computer. Remember the Image names that stopped responding. If Windows continues to lock up, update or remove software programs that are associated with the Image Names. Troubleshooting is complete.

    • If the lock-up persists, continue to the next section.

Step 3: Uninstall and re-install the problem software

To resolve the problem that is causing the notebook to lock-up, uninstall the suspected software and then re-install it. Use the following steps to uninstall and re-install a program.

  1. Click Start , enter programs and features in the search field and then select Programs and Features from the list.

  2. Select the program that is causing the lock-ups and then click Uninstall .

    NOTE: Remove all versions of the same program. Sometimes upgrades will not remove old versions of the software before installing the new version. This leaves multiple versions of the same software on your computer.
  3. After removing the problem programs, close the Control Panel.

  4. Restart the computer.

  5. Re-install the program following the vendor's instructions.

  6. If the computer continues to lockup even after re-installing the program, continue to the next section.

Step 4: Use the Program Compatibility Wizard

You can use the Program Compatibility Wizard to allow Windows Vista to run a program that was designed for an earlier version of Windows by emulating a previous version of Windows. To launch the Program Compatibility Wizard, use the following steps.

  1. Click Start , then click Control Panel .

  2. Click Programs .

    Under Programs and Features, click Use an older program with this version of Windows .

  3. When the Program Compatibility window opens, click Next .

  4. Select I want to choose from a list of programs , and then click Next .

  5. Select the program that is having problems, clickNext , and then follow on-screen instructions.

The program is now set to run in Compatibility mode.

Step 5: Contact the software vendor

If you experience consistent problems with a specific program, consult the software vendor's web site. If other users have had the same problem, the vendor may have found a solution for it.

Step 6: Additional methods to try

Performing preventative maintenance on your notebook may also improve performance. For more information, see HP Notebook PCs - Improving the Performance of Your Notebook PC .

If the software vendor's web site does not offer a solution, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base Non-HP site for information about the software that you were using when the lockup occurred.

To update the software that was bundled with your notebook PC, click Contact HP on this page for more support options or visit the software vendor's web site.

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