Windows 7 Repeatedly Pauses or Stalls: Fixes

Windows 7 may repeatedly, inexplicably pause or stall–either for several seconds or up to a minute or more. This problem can be caused by a variety of issues, including problematic drivers, bad RAM and more.

Here are a few fixes that have proven successful for a number of users experiencing this problem:

Check performance tools First, try the simplest fix. Navigate to: Control Panel > All Control Panel Items > Performance Information and Tools > Advanced Tools. In some cases, this screen will display the problem files, which can sometimes be removed to eliminate the pauses.

Update BIOS A BIOS update may resolve the problem. Here are instructions for updating the BIOS on Intel motherboards, and here are instructions for other motherboards.

Check for bad RAM Faulty RAM is one of the more pernicious and elusive causes of frequent system pauses. See our guide for checking for bad RAM and eliminating the issues it causes.

Uninstall hardware drivers In some cases, this issue appears to be caused by installation of incompatible hardware drivers. Try uninstalling any recently installed third-party drivers then restarting. To do this, click the Start button then navigate to Control Panel > System and Security > Device Manager. Right-click any recently installed third-party items and select “Uninstall” then restart.

End processes Processes spawned by some third-party drivers can also hang the shutdown process. Try opening the task manager (control-alt-delete) and ending any processes related to third-party devices or other hardware connected to your computer, then re-attempt the shutdown.

Switch your antivirus software Antivirus software can be a performance boon, protecting your system against things that can slow it down, or a bust, actually slowing down your system itself. If you’re still using the antivirus software that shipped with your system, try switching to one of the many free alternatives and tweaking your antivirus settings. Some restrictions can severely impact performance and do not deliver an real security. For instance, although there is some risk involved, you can try excluding certain frequently used or memory-intensive processes from your antivirus protection list. Never do this for Web browsers or other network-connected applications.

avast!, AVG and NOD32 deliver solid mixes of performance and protection.

5. Check for unnecessary services Click the Start button, type services.msc and press return. Here you’ll find a bevy of services, processes and programs–some critical, some not. Disabling certain items, especially those that launch at startup, can provide a real speed boost, but don’t get trigger happy; disabling the wrong process can result in stability problems and other issues.

To disable a service, right-click it, then select properties and choose “Disable.” This article provides a decent rundown of services and their purposes. When in doubt, thoroughly inspect the description of a service.

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