Computer Randomly Shuts Off: The Main Culprits

Computer Randomly Shuts Off

We tend to get nervous and even infuriated when our computer suddenly turns off. It is even worse when it happens often and for no apparent reason. In this article, we will try to address the most common reasons for that as well as the best solutions to address the problem.

It appears that there could be numerous reasons leading to the “computer randomly shuts off” phenomenon. Introduce yourself to the reasons and solutions listed below to address your specific issue and avoid future problems.

Overheating

Your PC may suddenly turn off if it overheats. The most common reasons for heat-related problems are careless overclocking, various types of debris like dirt, dust, and hair clogging different computer components, issues with the fan, etc.

Heat has always been a problem for computers. As a general rule of thumb, you should always try to keep your PC cool. If you don’t pay too much attention to overheating, you may jeopardize the health of certain components. This could lead to your motherboard shutting the system down to prevent damage to your machine.

In order to prevent your machine from building up too much heat, follow these rules:

ACTION STEPS

  • Ensure your PC properly circulates air
  • Avoid humid environments and keep your machine dry
  • Keep your machine away from high-temperature locations
  • If you have a laptop, use a cooling pad.
  • Keep your PC away from walls, they prevent proper air circulation too.
  • Avoid exposing your machine to direct sunlight.
  • Change the thermal paste of your processor if you haven’t done so for a long time.

Overheating often happens when your case, processor or card fans malfunction. If you hear a strange sound coming from one of your fans, you should definitely examine it.

It may be broken, dirty or dusty. If you notice dust or other debris clogging it, clean the fan.

Dust, hair and other particles may overheat your computer by preventing proper air circulation. Keep your machine clean to prevent overheating and consecutive shutdowns.

Food debris also provides a suitable environment for germs. Avoid eating when using a computer.

Overheating can also result from overclocking. Overclocked computers have greater power demands, which could also lead to shutdowns and lead to damage to certain components.

If possible, you should always strive to prevent overclocking and only allow your system to run as fast as it is meant to.

Problems with hardware

Hardware-related problems can also lead to random shutdowns. There are a number of ways you can examine for problems with certain devices.

Try the Device Manager

device manager

This Windows utility also helps in identifying device issues. To do that, just press Winkey + X and then click on “Device Manager”.

The newly opened Device Manager window will list all the devices you have on your system. You can expand the categories to see if there is a problem with certain devices you want to check. If there is not, Windows will display it too:

Use the Check Disk Utility

This utility allows you to perform a quick check on your hard disk’s health. Follow the steps outlined below to do that:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Start the Windows File Explorer with Winkey + E.
  2. Right-click on a disk, choose Properties and navigate to the Tools tab.
  3. Click on Check under “Error checking”.

Windows will perform a quick check and notify you if there is any problem with the disk.

If neither of these tools was of help to you, try removing any recently installed hardware.

If there is an incompatibility issue between your new and existing devices, this could help you identify the problem.

If you are not a hardware expert, you can ask someone else to do it for you or contact a service center for support.

Faulty drivers

If you have old or simply bad drivers, this can also lead to Windows 10 shutting down unexpectedly.

Use Windows Update

Installing the latest Windows update may also install the driver updates you require. To do so, just press Winkey + X, click on Settings and then navigate to Update & Security => Check for updates. If there is a new update for your OS, Windows will try to install it.

Use Driver Verifier

This tool is helpful for listing problematic or unsigned drivers. You can start it by left-clicking the Windows logo button in the taskbar and typing “verifier” then clicking on it.

Alternatively, you can start Command Prompt and type “verifier”, followed by Enter to confirm.

Run Device Manager

Just run the Device Manager as explained before, search for a device with an old or faulty driver, right click on it and choose “Update Driver”.

Manually fix certain drivers

Instead of updating a driver, you can choose to uninstall it by opting for “Uninstall device” instead of “Update Driver”.

You can then search for the latest driver version for your device and OS version directly on the manufacturer’s website.

Prior to uninstalling the device driver, you can look for information on the device name and manufacturer by right-clicking on a certain device in the Device Manager window and choosing “Properties”.

Use software

You have the option to use special software to try to update all your device drivers automatically.

One such tool is Driver Booster. Of course, there are other tools too and this is not necessarily the best one.

Malware

Strange shutdowns may result from malware infections. Scanning your system with certain tools regularly is a good way to deal with the problem.

Windows Defender

The built-in Microsoft Windows Defender is a good tool for helping you deal with malware. To start the program, follow these steps:

  1. Left-click on the Windows logo in the taskbar and type “Windows Defender”.
  2. Click on “Windows Defender Security Center”.
  3. Ensure that Windows Defender is on.
  4. Click on “Virus & thread protection” and then on “Scan now”.

windows defender

  1. The tool will perform a quick scan and let you know if there is any virus or malware threat found.

Additional malware removal tool

If you need some extra protection, you can install and use specialized tools for anti-malware protection. One such tool, and at that one of my personal favorites, is Malwarebytes.

malware removal tool

It comes in free and premium versions. I’m satisfied with the free offer but if you want the best possible protection – consider the premium version.

Battery issues

If you are a laptop user, you may run into a battery problem. If your battery is old or unstable, the PC may shut down without your consent.

Decide whether it is time to replace it with a new one, ensuring that your new battery meets your PC’s requirements.

UPS problem

Sometimes, your UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) device could be the root of the problem. Unplug your PC from it for a day and connect the computer directly to the power outlet.

If the problem disappears, consider fixing or replacing the UPS device.

Insufficient voltage of the charger

If you use a charger for your machine, consider acquiring one with higher voltage capacity. When you have a charging device of less than 100 watts, this could be the reason why your computer shuts down often.

If you use power-demanding programs and other applications, consider acquiring a charger with voltage capacity of between 100 and 250 watts.

Windows Sleep Mode problems

Sleep mode in Windows may also cause problems like random shutdowns. You can try to eliminate this possible issue by disabling the option. Do the following to cancel Sleep Mode:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Press Winkey + X and click on Options.
  2. Navigate to Power & Sleep and from the right pane choose Sleep => Never.

Windows Fast Startup

Although it helps your OS to start faster, it may also lead to occasional shutdowns.

To turn it off and check whether this will prevent your PC from shutting down without an apparent reason, do the following:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Press the Winkey and type “power options”.
  2. Click on “Power & sleep settings” and then on “Additional power settings” on the right.
  3. In the newly opened power options window, click on “Choose what the power buttons do”.
  4. Click on “Change settings that are currently unavailable”.
  5. In the “Shutdown settings” section, unclick “Turn on fast startup (recommended)”
  6. Save the changes and reboot the PC.

Outdated BIOS

Random shutdowns may result from old BIOS versions too. If you are not certain how to do it, you can consult the guide supplied by your motherboard’s manufacturer. The usual steps one should take to update BIOS are:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Visit the website of the motherboard’s vendor and download the latest BIOS version.
  2. Copy the compressed BIOS file on a flash drive. Ensure that it is placed in the root of the drive.
  3. Boot your computer, press Del to enter BIOS and select M-Flash.
  4. Select the file to update BIOS from your flash drive.
  5. Wait until the system updates and restarts the PC.

Problems with Windows and other applications

Random shutdowns may also result from certain applications and Windows itself.

You may want to check for faulty applications, junk files, missing and corrupted system files and issues with Windows registry entries.

Try the Store Apps Troubleshooter in Windows

If certain Windows 10 apps are causing problems, including occasional shutdowns, the Windows Store Apps Troubleshooter can help you sort them. Follow these steps to run it:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Press together WinKey + X and click on Settings.
  2. Navigate to Update & Security => Troubleshoot => Windows Store App
  3. Click on Run the troubleshooter and follow the instructions.

troubleshooter

You will need to enable User Account Control to proceed if you have not already. A more detailed explanation on the troubleshooter is available at the Microsoft support site.

Run System File Checker

This utility attempts to find and repair corrupted or missing system files. The steps to use it are as follows:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Press together Winkey + X and click on Command Prompt (Admin).
  2. Enter “sfc /scannow” and confirm with Enter.
  3. The tool will start a file verification process, scanning the system. Wait for it to finish and restart your PC.

Use Windows Shutdown Assistant

This dedicated tool can help prevent unexpected Windows shutdowns. It uses automated tasks to let you decide when should Windows shut down – at a certain time, when the system is idle, when the battery is low or when the CPU overheats.

Apart from preventing random shutdowns, this utility will also help you organize and optimize certain tasks and comes with a trial version.

OS issues

At a certain point, if all your attempts at fixing the issue are unsuccessful, there may be a problem with your operating system. For example, an issue with your latest Windows 10 update.

There are at least a few ways to troubleshoot this:

Reset the OS

Apply the default factory settings to reset your PC. Just press the Windows start button and type “reset”. Then click on “Reset this PC”, followed by “Get started”.

Choose to keep your files or remove everything before you start. It is best to proceed with the first option.

If you have had a previous OS version installed, you will be able to downgrade to it, should you choose to do so.

Restore your OS with System Restore

This is one of the logical steps to take if you suspect that something is wrong with your latest Windows update. If that’s the case, you can restore Windows from a certain System Restore point. Do the following:

ACTION STEPS

  1. Click the start button in the taskbar and type “Recovery”.
  2. Click on “Recovery” and then on “Open System Restore”.
  3. Choose a restore point prior to the last Windows update and follow the wizard to complete the procedure.

Reinstall Windows

If nothing else helps, why not try and reinstall your OS? By doing so, you will be able to start from a “clean plate”. Of course, this will erase your personal data, so better back up all the important information you have on an external drive.

We hope that you find these solutions helpful for resolving your issue.

If you have other suggestions for solving this particular problem, feel free to mention them in the comments section below.

About the author

Ollie

is a Systems Engineer and a former Computer Tech Support Specialist. When he's not working or tweaking his Dell XPS 13, he enjoys taking a photograph or two.

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