Sunday, May 22, 2011

How to Fix a Locked Up Program?

I am sure at some point all of us have had a program lock up on us.  Now there are a number of ways of “fixing” a locked up program, and by the way rebooting the computer is the last fix and generally should only be required if Windows is locked up.
Now first off, lets get some technical info out of the way, when people say their computer is locked up or has crashed, this could mean a program has locked up or it could mean that Windows has locked up, which in most cases will lock up any programs you are using as well.  It could also mean that the computer is going eternally slow, in which case “patience is a virtue.”  It is important to differentiate between a locked up program and a locked up computer (Windows).  Locked up programs are generally easy to fix and should under most circumstances not require rebooting the computer, though if you read my last post, I would recommend you shut the computer off at some point (that night for sure!).  If Windows is locked up, it is basically going to be a given that you will have to reboot the computer.
Now on to how to fix the locked up program.
  1. The first step in fixing a locked up program is simply to have patience and wait.  Sometimes a program or Windows will appear to be locked up because it is has exceeded the the computer’s processing capabilities, causing the computer slow down or “hang.”  Also, if you have any unsaved work open, a little patience may save that work.  A good way to know if  program is still running or not is to open Task Manager, which will show the status of any running programs.  If the program status is “running” it most likely means your computer is working and you simply need to wait.  If the program status is “Not Responding” then the program is locked up, in which case I would still suggest waiting to see if the program will start responding again.  To open Task Manager, right click on the Task Bar and click Task Manager.  You can also press Ctrl + Alt + Delete simultaneously to open the Task Manager.  If it is not already, switch to the Applications Tab.
    right-click-task-bar-to-open-task-manager
    Windows-Task-Manager
  2. Now if patience does not work (more than a minute or two), we will need to try killing the program using Task Manager. The first step in closing the program is to try to end it nicely.  Simply select the program from the list and click End Task (bottom right hand side).  The End Task feature will attempt to close the program normally and hopefully save any unsaved work.  For me this only works about 50% of the time; so, do not get to hopeful!
  3. If closing the program normally does not work, then we will have to terminate the program.  To do this right click on the program that is not responding and click Go To Process.  The program I am going to terminate is Microsoft Word and by terminating Microsoft Word I will lose any unsaved work.  I should also note to observant people; that, yes, Microsoft Word is working just fine and not actually locked up.
    task-manager-terminating-a-program
    When you click the Go To Process, Task Manager will switch to the Processes Tab and highlight the Microsoft Word process.
    task-manager-terminating-a-process
    The highlighted process for Microsoft Word is WINWORD.EXE.  To end the program/process click the End Process (bottom right side).  Task Manager then will ask if you are sure you want to end the process.
    task-manager-confirming-process-termination
  4. Now if you are not able to terminate the program, the last thing to try is to reboot the computer.  Of course try to reboot normally without “killing” the computer first off!  If you cannot access the normal shutdown options, the power button on most computers should be set to shut the computer down, simply press the button (don’t hold the button down!) and the computer should shut down normally.  If the computer does not shut down then you will have to kill it by pressing and holding the power button tell the computer shuts down.

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