How to Fix a PC that Randomly Restarts

edited October 2023 in PC Tech

You're in the zone—nailing those zombies or crushing your work deadline. Then, out of nowhere—boom! Your PC decides to randomly reboot. No warning, no error message, nothing. Just a black screen followed by your system's logo as it fires back up. Infuriating, right?

Don't sweat it. Our guide to fixing it will help you resolve those random restarts. No tech jargon—just simple steps to get your Windows 10 or 11 PC up and running smoothly again.

Why does my computer restart without warning? 

Before diving into the fixes, knowing why this frustrating phenomenon happens is essential. Here's a quick rundown:

  1. Defective hardware: Faulty RAM or a dying hard drive can trigger random reboots. It's your computer's SOS signal. 
  2. Power issues: A dodgy power supply unit (PSU) can wreak havoc. So can unstable power from your wall socket. 
  3. Overheating: Your PC's a workhorse, but it's got its heat limits. Exceed them and prepare for a sudden reboot. 
  4. Software issues: Sometimes, the problem lies in a glitchy app or a bug in the operating system. 
  5. Malware and ransomware: Rare but possible. Some malwares can force your PC to restart, often to complete the infection by altering essential system files.

Identify the culprit, and you're halfway to a fix.

How to fix a Windows 10 or 11 PC that randomly restarts 

If your PC reboots when you launch a program, here are the top solutions to stop those random restarts. First, if you've recently installed new drivers, hardware, or software, consider uninstalling or rolling them back.

1. Turn off the automatic restart feature 

Turning off the Automatic Restart feature won't fix the core issue, but it can help you catch error messages. Disabling prevents the system from rebooting if a software or OS hiccup occurs.

It's simple to turn Automatic Restart off:

  1. Right-click This PC icon on your desktop or File Explorer 
  2. Select Properties from the context menu. 
  3. Click Advanced system settings on the right. 
  4. Under the Advanced tab, click Settings in the Startup and Recovery section. 
  5. In the System Failure section, uncheck the Automatic Restart checkbox. 
  6. Click OK to save your settings.

By doing this, you're telling Windows to stop auto-rebooting when encountering an issue. This can give you more time to identify the root problem. 

2. Run a memory test to check RAM health

Constant freezing and crashing often point to RAM problems. Windows 10 and 11 come with Windows Memory Diagnostic, a diagnostic tool that tests your memory.

Here's how to do a quick RAM check

  1. Click the Start Menu search bar icon or press Win + S
  2. Type in Windows Memory Diagnostic and click the app. 
  3. You'll get two choices: Restart now and check for problems or Check for problems the next time I start my computer. Pick one. 
  4. The test runs after a reboot and takes 5-15 minutes. 
  5. Once done, Windows will start and give you the test results when you log back in.

Fortunately, the Windows Memory Diagnostic tool can help you get your PC back on track. If errors are detected, replace the faulty RAM. 

3. Inspect your power setup 

Not to state the obvious, but your random restarts could be power-related. From the cord to the outlet, here's what to check.

1) Check the power cord and connections 

Make sure everything's snug. Check the plug at both ends: your PC and the wall or surge protector.

2) Examine the power outlet 

Keep an eye on other devices plugged into the same outlet. Do they flicker or lose power when your PC restarts? If yes, your wall socket could be the issue here.

3) Check your reset and power buttons 

Keep the area around your power and restart buttons clear. Clear away anything—or anyone—that could accidentally activate these buttons by mistake. 

Taking the time to review your power setup might shine a light on the issue. If everything checks out here and you're still restarting, keep going down the list.

4) Check for overheating 

Gaming or multitasking and your computer's sizzling? Your computer checks internal temperatures and will force a shutdown if temperatures rise high enough to damage the PC's hardware. If the CPU or GPU temps push past 194°F (90°C), it's time to act.

Common causes and quick fixes for computer overheating 

  1. Dusty fans: Dust restricts airflow, leading to overheating. Use compressed air to clear out dusty fans. 
  2. Extreme outside temperatures: Stay within the 50 - 95°F range. Operate your laptop inside or use a rugged notebook to handle extreme conditions. 
  3. Blocked vents: Your laptop's airflow suffocates on soft surfaces like beds. Elevate it on a hard surface, like a desk, to open up those vents. 
  4. Worn thermal paste: If the thermal paste has clocked some years, its efficiency drops. Time for a fresh coat. 
  5. Faulty battery: An old or defective battery generates more heat than you'd think. If your battery isn't charging and your laptop's hot, it's time for a new one.

Signs of overheating 

  1. Abnormal fan noise: If your fan's roaring, it's a red flag. 
  2. Reduced battery life: Overheating drains the battery quicker. 
  3. Performance lags: Overheating throttles your laptop's speed.

Keep your PC cool, and you won't just solve the random restart issue—you'll also extend its lifespan and crank up its performance. Read our laptop overheating guide for more troubleshooting tips.

5. Adjust Windows power settings 

Lowering your processor's minimum power level can sidestep overheating, helping you avoid random restarts.

Tweaking Windows Power Options can help you do that:

  1. Enter Edit Power Options in the Windows Search box. 
  2. Click Change advanced power settings in the pop-up dialog box. 
  3. Find Processor power management > Minimum processor state. 
  4. Adjust it to 5% or even 0% for both plugged-in and battery modes. 
  5. Click OK to save your new settings and close the dialog box.

This helps rule out one potential culprit: processor power management.

6. Run Windows Update 

Don't underestimate the power of an update. Windows frequently rolls out patches and security fixes that could cure your restart woes. Follow these steps to run Windows Update:

  1. Type Settings into the Windows search bar and select the app. 
  2. Click Update & Security
  3. Click Check for updates
  4. Follow on-screen instructions to download and install updates. 
  5. Restart your PC for the changes to take effect.

Doing this will ensure your system is up-to-date and possibly fix any glitches causing random restarts.

7) Update device drivers 

Outdated or corrupt drivers, particularly graphic drivers, can cause system conflicts that lead to random restarts. Updating your drivers ensures compatibility with the latest OS updates and software. This simple step could put an end to those annoying reboots.

How to update your drivers to fix incompatibility issues:

  1. Right-click on the Windows logo button and select Device Manager
  2. Expand categories and locate the device that needs updating. Start with Display Adaptors. 
  3. Right-click on the device, then select Update driver. 
  4. Choose Search automatically for updated driver software
  5. Follow the prompts to update.

Manually updating drivers ensures you get the correct version, reducing the risk of system conflicts that can trigger restarts.

8) Run Disk Check

A corrupt file system can destabilize your PC, triggering random reboots. Running Windows built-in disk check can find and fix these issues. Here's how: 

How to run Disk Check in Windows

  1. Open File Explorer and select This PC
  2. Right-click the drive you want to scan, usually C: or D:, and hit Properties
  3. Navigate to the Tools tab. 
  4. Click Check
  5. If the prompt says, "You don't need to scan this drive," you're all clear. 
  6. Click Show Details to view fixed issues or hit Close to exit.

Need a deep dive? Our guide on fixing corrupted files has your back, plus some alternatives.

9) Update your BIOS 

Head to your motherboard manufacturer's site to download the latest BIOS version. Double-check your motherboard manual to get the correct version—mess this up, and you could brick your PC. If you're scratching your head, you'd better call a pro.

How to Update Acer BIOS: 

  1. Go to Acer Support's Drivers and Manuals section. 
  2. Plug in your Serial Number/SNID or look up your product by Model. 
  3. Click on the BIOS tab and check out the latest version. Compare it to what you've got.

Note: Wrong BIOS = Bad News. Make sure you're downloading the right one. Still not sure? Acer Customer Care can walk you through it.

10) System Restore 

A System Restore might be your last resort when you've tried everything and your PC is still a hot mess.

How to Run System Restore in Windows 

  1. ​​Click here to enter text.​Type Create a restore point into the search bar. 
  2. Click on the System Restore button. 
  3. Follow the on-screen instructions to select a restore point. 
  4. Click Finish to initiate the process.

Note: You'll lose recent software installs but might kick those random restarts to the curb.

Bottom Line

Had enough of your PC's unscheduled intermissions? Deploy these 10 tactical moves and take back control. Get ready for uninterrupted flow.

Robert is a Taiwan-based writer and digital marketer at iamrobert design. He has a passion for helping people simplify their lives through tech.


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