Oh Crap, It’s Frozen!
Hey, it happens. Usually it’s not really your fault. Programs lock up, freeze, and stop working right. This is usually dependent on how hard you are taxing the resources of your computer, and how many things are running at once. But this basic introduction to everyday troubleshooting should help you avoid making that dreaded call to tech support. We nerds hate that call just as much as you do, if not more. So let’s walk through what could be wrong with it and the easy fixes.
Restarting your Computer
Once you are forced to call tech support, the number one thing they always tell you to do is restart your machine. But what the heck is the point of that? The answer lies in how the computer functions on a basic level. All computers have some form of memory storage, and some form of active memory, the RAM (Random Access Memory). If a program is malfunctioning, we want to figure out where the problem is. The problem with that is we can’t decipher millions of lines of code to find out where one function is not executing properly. That is a job for the software engineers and coders. So we narrow down the possibilities by looking at the possible areas where the problem could exist.
The active memory doesn’t store anything. As soon as power is cut to the computer, it is wiped clean. And if your program won’t load properly, starting from scratch tells us if it was an anomaly, or if there is a problem with your installation on the storage drive. So just simply restart it, being sure to save your work if you can, and 50% of your problems will magically disappear.
You may not need to fully restart your computer to see the same results though. Sure that is the most effective way to start your troubleshooting, but it also can be time consuming. So consider utilizing your Task Manager in Windows, or your Activity Monitor on OSX to get rid of the program’s runtime within your operating system.
The Windows Task Manager
Back in the early days of Windows, CTRL-ALT-DEL was the magic kill switch for your computer. If you couldn’t get any response from anything, pressing this key combination would restart windows without disrupting power to the computer. Now you can access an Administrator level tool by using this simple key combination from anywhere.
Ending programs from this window is a good way to get back to a working state. I could spend a whole blog on this utility, and I may in the future, but now just take note if the different tabs available to you for different functions.
The Activity Monitor in Mac OSX
This utility functions almost the same way as the Windows task manager. You can control many different utilities of the operating system from here, especially killing a program that is hanging and causing an endless rainbow wheel. There isn’t the same magic button combination that gets you there, but searching for Activity Monitor in the Finder or in your Utilities folder will get you there.
When All Else Fails – Hard-boot It
This last and final step will help you out if you can get no response from anything, and even telling it to restart gets you nowhere. Without having to unplug the tower of a desktop of remove the battery of a laptop, you can issue a power command by pressing and holding the power button until it shuts off. I would like to emphasize that this should be a last resort, as this can mess with your Windows/OSX settings if something doesn’t save properly.
If restarting your computer doesn’t fix the problem, then you probably have an installation problem. Reinstalling your program would be the next step, but don’t hesitate to seek professional help if you think that something might be over your head.