Sudden Computer Shutdown or Restart


When your computer shuts down or restarts suddenly, it likely has one of the following issues: malware, overheating, hardware, power supply, drivers or a problem with the operating system (OS). Most computer users have experienced a few shutdowns.

Author: Ian Musyoka
Author: Ian Musyoka



One of the most frustrating things you can experience as a computer user is a sudden shutdown or restart of the system. Not only could it lead to the loss of valuable work, but it may also be an indication that your PC is damaged. You may wonder what could be behind this phenomenon. I did some digging and came up with some interesting answers. 

When your computer shuts down or restarts suddenly, it likely has one of the following issues: malware, overheating, hardware, power supply, drivers or a problem with the operating system (OS). Most computer users have experienced a few spontaneous restarts or shutdowns. However, it becomes a nuisance when it stops being an isolated event. The first cause of action should be to troubleshoot what might be causing these events. Let us review some of the reasons and fixes for sudden restarts or shutdowns. 

Causes of Sudden Shutdown or Restart and How to Fix Them

  1. Hardware Problems

Your computer might reboot or generate an error warning if there is a presence of failing hardware. This can also be caused by hardware drivers, especially if you have installed new ones. Random shutdown or reboots can also be caused by hardware that was not properly installed. 

An attempt to add new hardware devices can cause hardware failure. In this case, remove the device and see if it the reason behind the issue. If you suspect that the hardware drivers you recently replaced could be the problem, try installing earlier versions to see if there will be a change. You also need to eliminate the possibility of poorly installed hardware. You can do this by disconnecting and reconnecting all the expansion cards and cables inside the PC. 

Device manager can be employed to deal with driver issues. First, boot it by pressing ‘Win + X’ and clicking ‘Device Manager’. Expand the entries to look for the failing drivers. If you see a device with a yellow circle and an exclamation mark, it is a sign that the driver is conflicting with other hardware. It may also be a sign that the driver or the device is not installed correctly. Once you locate it, update it by right-clicking and choosing ‘update driver’. You might also decide to troubleshoot all drivers manually, making you uninstall all your drivers to reinstall them.

Sudden Computer Shutdown or Restart

If you remove new hardware and update your drivers yet the problem seems to persist, your computer memory might be the issue. You can confirm this by typing ‘memory’ in the windows search bar and running the Windows Diagnostics Tools. By clicking on either ‘Restart now and check for memory’ or ‘Check the problem the next time I start my computer’, your computer will run a memory test the next time it boots. 

  1. Heat

Heat-related issues might be the reason behind sudden restarts and shutdowns. Based on the design features today, most PCs will automatically turn off when overheating occurs. Often, a computer overheats when it is used for heavy-duty tasks like editing videos and playing computer games with high graphics. Overheating can also stem from fan issues, overclocking, dust and other particles, and careless computer use. 

Sudden Computer Shutdown or Restart

If any of your fans malfunction (either case fans, video card fans, or processor fans), overheating will take place. One of the first signs of a fan problem is squealing. If a fan keeps squealing, it might be a sign that it is broken. You will need to open up your computer and inspect the fans. Accumulation of dust and debris may also cause this to happen. They do this by preventing proper air circulation. If you suspect this might be the case, take some time to clean the fans and see if the issue will be solved. Moreover, keep your PC neat and tidy. 

The power demands of a computer are increased when you decide to overclock it. This means that it might not be able to handle it. Overclocking is very dangerous and can cause a lot of damage to your computer. Your computer needs to operate in the conditions that were designed for it; it should run the way it was intended to. Therefore, you should disable the overclocking setting. You can do this by accessing the advanced section of the BIOS menu and going to the performance option. Look for the overclocking option and disable it. Save and exit. 

By using your computer carelessly, you always put it in a tough situation every time you try to break the rules. Your motherboard may even shut down to save the machine. Some of the rules that should be followed are:

  • Keep your computer in a well-ventilated area
  • Do not expose your computer to direct sunlight or hot environments
  • Avoid using your computer in humid conditions
  • If you use a laptop, get a cooling pad
  • Change the thermal paste if your computer is too hot
  1. Malware

Does your computer turn off when executing certain commands or programs? It could be infected. Some viruses or other malware are designed to shut down or restart your computer when certain conditions are achieved. The blaster virus is a good example, it causes a computer reboot every few minutes after startup. 

If you suspect your computer is infected, your first course of action should be to run a scan using your antivirus program. You also need to ensure that the virus definitions are up-to-date before running the scan. For Windows Defender users, you can do this by clicking on ‘Virus and threat protection’ and clicking on ‘Check for updates’ under ‘Virus and threat protection updates’. In case you use another program, open it and look for ‘Live update’, ‘Update’ or ‘Check for updates’. 

Sudden Computer Shutdown or Restart

It is good to note that some anti-malware utilities don’t include an update button. In such a case, you will have to visit the developer’s website and download the virus definitions from there. 

  1. Power Supply Issue

Over time, battery issues may start to plague laptop users. This might cause it to become unpredictable and cause shutdowns without your permission. If you suspect this to be the problem, replace your battery and observe the results. 

For people who use an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) or a surge protector, you will need to confirm if they are the root cause. Connect your computer’s power cable directly into the power outlet and check if it works properly. If this solves the issue, the UPS or surge protector is defective or overloaded. You can find out if it is overloaded by plugging in your computer only. 

Heavyweight computer users might stress their device by using resource-heavy apps or programs. You may want to employ chargers with higher voltage capacities if you think you fit in this category. For heavyweight computer users, the recommended charger voltage is 100w to 240w. Anything below 90w will not be enough. 

  1. Software Issues

Random shutdowns and restarts can be triggered by software issues such as faulty apps, windows registry issues, missing or corrupted files, junk files or non-optimal settings. Since Windows XP was released, Windows was designed to automatically reboot when an error occurs. The blue screen of death (BSoD) is a good example of an error that leads to a reboot.

You can decide to troubleshoot your software issues manually by examining the apps you use closely. Does your computer seem to restart or shut down when a particular app is running? If yes, there is a chance that that is the culprit. Reinstall the app in question and observe if there will be a change. Contrarily, you can download a diagnostic tool from a trusted software supplier like Cnet or Softonic, and use it to scan your device. Apart from saving you a lot of time, it will get you back on track fast. An example tool is Windows Resource Monitor. 

  1. Problematic OS

If none of the aforementioned issues seem to apply to you, your OS might be down. A good way to find out is by restarting your computer to enter the CMOS setup. Give your computer a few minutes to sit after the CMOS setup has loaded. If the computer is still on after staying idle in the CMOS setup, the installation of the OS may have been corrupted. 

A good idea would be to first try using system restore points to recover your normal OS functionality. To do this, search ‘Control Panel’ on the start menu search bar, select it and click on ‘Systems and Security’. Under ‘Systems and Security’, click on ‘File History’ and then ‘Open System Restore’ under ‘Recovery’. From there, you can select your desired restore point and click ‘Next’. By clicking ‘Finish’, you confirm the restore point. 

Sudden Computer Shutdown or Restart

Alternatively, you may decide to reset your computer. When you type ‘reset’ on the Windows search bar and click on ‘Reset this PC’, you will be taken to a window with the option of either downgrading to the previous version of Windows or keeping the current OS. If you want to keep your personal files, this option allows that. However, installed programs and personal settings will be deleted. 

Conclusion

Malware, power supply issues, hardware issues, driver issues, overheating, and OS problems can be some of the driving factors that contribute to the sudden shutdown or restart of a computer. It is a common event that has been experienced by many computer users. However, it becomes a nuisance when it stops being an isolated event. When you face this problem, the first course of action should be to troubleshoot the reason behind it. By breaking some of the basic computer rules, you are putting your device in danger.