My computer shut down on its own! What do I do?

Submitted by whizkid on Wed, 10/27/2010 - 10:01 in Computer Tips

If your computer shuts down without warning, there are several possible causes:

Cause #1: System Updates

Update UtilityIn Windows XP, Windows Vista, and Windows 7, there is a feature called Automatic Updates that allows your computer to update its operating system regularly. This feature is helpful because it makes sure that your computer software remains fully patched and up to date without the need for you to remember to run an update. However, there is a setting in Automatic Updates that tells Windows to automatically restart the computer after installing updates, and this can make it appear as though your computer has shut down on its own! You can change this setting from the Automatic Updates utility (Windows XP) or from the Windows Update utility (Windows Vista and 7) in the Control Panel.

Cause #2: Sleep Mode or Hibernate

There are two settings in Windows that cause your computer to appear to shut down, Sleep and Hibernate. Sleep Mode is a little bit like a Pause button, and you can wake your computer instantly by pressing a key on your keyboard. Hibernate is more like a system shutdown. Your computer turns off, but Windows remembers exactly what was open and running so that when you press the power button, everything opens just as it was. 

Cause #3: Power Outage

Computers can't run without power! Make sure that the power strip/surge protector is plugged in and switched on, and make sure that the power cable is connected to your computer and a power source.

Cause #4: Monitor Cable

If you jostle your monitor or your desktop computer, you may accidentally disconnect the cable connecting the monitor to the computer. This can look like the computer shutting down abruptly, but reconnecting the display cable should resolve the problem.

Cause #5: Overheating

The mechanical parts in your computer can heat up rapidly if you're playing games or watching movies. Make sure that the vents on the computer aren't blocked by objects or clogged with dust. You may need to clean the inside of your computer's case by opening it and using compressed air to dislodge dust and debris. If you don't know how to do this, or if your computer still isn't starting up even when the airflow has improved, contact a computer repair professional.

Cause #6: Viruses

There are computer viruses that can cause your computer to shut down automatically. If this happens, your computer will start up, but will constantly turn off or restart without warning. If you have ruled out causes 1 through 5, consider running a virus scan in Safe Mode. There are many virus and malware scanners available online, such as PC Whiz. If your computer won't remain on, try starting the computer in Safe Mode by pressing F8 during startup. If the computer doesn't remain on in Safe Mode, or if you're uncomfortable running a virus scan, contact a professional.

If none of these causes applies to you, contact a computer support professional.

 Download PC Whiz to scan and fix your computer virus related problems.