What Would Cause My PC to Randomly Reboot at Various Times?

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There are few things more frustrating than having a computer that restarts itself randomly, mostly because computer-based work needs to be saved and a sudden, inexplicable restart will cause you to lose that work.
Before you starting banging your head (or your computer) against the wall, however, take the time to try out a few of these helpful tips.

If You Can't Take the Heat, Get out of My CPU

  • Sometimes, being smokin’ hot isn’t a good thing. If your computer is running hot, it will restart itself automatically to try to cool off. If this is left unchecked, you could potentially burn out the computer entirely, causing a permanent loss of data and one big, expensive headache.

    To combat this problem, try downloading the free utility program “Speedfan,” which will tell you how hot your computer is running. If it’s above 60 degrees, your computer is suffering a heat problem. If you’re comfortable performing diagnostics and repairs yourself, open up the computer’s casing and use a can of compressed air to clean out the heat sink’s fins of dust and detritus, which can cause an overheating problem. You should also check to see if your CPU’s fan is running well and that there’s a sufficient supply of cool air for the fan to use.

I Tripped Down Memory Lane...

  • If your computer isn’t overheating, your random-access memory (RAM) is the most likely villain. If one of your RAM sticks has a bad spot in it somewhere and your computer attempts to access that spot, it will overreact and restart itself. To fix, turn off your computer, open up the console and take out or replace one RAM stick, and then restart the computer. Open some programs, and let the system run awhile and see if the problem is fixed. If not, replace the RAM stick and select another to test. Repeat until you either find the problem or decide that it’s not the RAM.

Help Me to Help You NOT to Help Me

  • The final common cause of computer restarts is a well-meaning little pitfall built into the Windows operating system software itself that will restart your computer after encountering any system errors. To turn this off, navigate to:

    Start menu ->
    Control Panel ->
    Performance & Maintenance ->
    System ->
    Advanced Tab ->
    Settings (Startup and Recovery Section) ->
    Uncheck “Automatically Restart” at the bottom of the box.

    A word of warning: while doing this might fix your random restarting problem, it might also be keeping you from noticing the symptoms of a bigger system problem. Have your computer looked at professionally for things like bad capacitors, faulty power supply or other more-technical problems that would be harder for a nonprofessional to fix.

References

  • Photo Credit Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images
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