5 reasons a laptop may randomly shut off.

When your computer randomly shuts off it can be quite the disconcerting experience. Most people will first look to their power source, which they rightly should, to see if that may be the cause.

The fact of the matter however is that the computer is much more of a marvel than most people realize, such as having a built-in self-protecting mechanism that shuts off a computer if any of the components get too hot. It’s usually in your best interest if it shuts down, as it’s likely shutting down to protect your computer from some impending danger.

Our guide will outline five of the most common reasons your laptop is randomly shutting off.

1. Dirty Fan/Overheating

One of the first and most likely reasons your computer is shutting off randomly, especially when you’re playing a game, is an overheating issue. This is the bane of most computers, especially laptops, since the heat has nowhere to go. Fans that are in peerless working order are critical in aiding this issue.

Overheated laptop.

This is such a common and important issue in fact that most computers now have a built-in mechanism that will shut off your computer if any of the components become too hot. Consider this your fairy mother protecting your expensive electronic device.

What you want to do to overcome this is to figure out what is causing the heat, and dirty fans are most likely the culprit. You’ll want to “look at your video card fans, case fans and processor fans” to see if any of them are squealing. If one is, that probably means one of them is broken.

Video card fan.

When looking at the fans, “take a moment to clean them” and to do so properly. They are covered with dust, hair and other gross residue that makes it hard for the computer to cool itself off.

Cleaning dust in laptop fan.

Your fans will utterly thank you for it, and it will extend the life of your computer big time. A computer that is cool as a cucumber is what you’re striving for.

2. Hardware Failure

Another common reason for a random shut down of your computer is a hardware component failure, which is not unheard of, especially on computers that have been refurbished. If you’ve recently “added any new hardware” this is the time to remove it to see if the shut-down issue goes away.

Laptop motherboard.

The hardware to check first are as follows: RAM, CPU, your motherboard, power supply and your video card.

3. Wrong Charger Voltage

If you’re a gamer and your computer shuts-down while you’re playing a game at the usual performance setting, chances are it’s your charger/power source. Many games require chargers with higher voltage capacities, with the preferred voltage from 100w to 240w. However most computer users don’t realize this and instead use chargers that are 90 watts or less.

Second Life on a laptop.

Games are one of the most resource consuming things you can do on a laptop, especially since they almost always make your fans run at top speed. Don’t forget – a vacuum cleaner hose does a great job at cleaning those laptop vents.

4. Display Driver Crash

If you’ve tinkered with your operating system or have changed drivers on your computer, this too can be troublesome, especially if you’re playing around with BIOS. A driver crash can always completely shut down a computer.

Display driver crash.

AMD display drivers or the AMD Catalyst Suite are two common display drivers that have been known to crash. To determine the driver that crashed, when your computer starts back up look to see if you have any dump files at the top of the crash posts. These files will tell you everything you need to know.

5. Computer Virus

A more rare cause of a computer shutting down randomly can be a computer virus. Some computer viruses will actually shut off your computer, and then turn it back on.

Laptop with virus.

These viruses are usually activated by a certain thing you do on a computer, whether it’s a keystroke or opening a particular program. To make sure you have your best defenses up against viruses, make sure you’re running a great background anti-virus program like Malwarebytes and that your virus scanner definitions are up-to-date as well.

Conclusion

Never underestimate the streamlined stamina of a clean laptop. It may surprise you. And if all else fails, be careful of where you use your computer. Always strive for proper ventilation, avoid bedding and consider using a laptop cooling pad if you don’t have one already.

For a great way to monitor your computer’s heat levels, check out our post – How to Use HDD Temperature to Monitor Your Computer’s Internal Temperature.

  • lol AMD drivers

  • I have a laptop that I got about 11 months ago. It’s never gotten a single virus, I run full scans every week. I don’t know how it would get a virus anyway because I rarely download anything and I use adblock and ghostery, etc. I have 16GB RAM, my gpu is nvidia geforce gtx 850m, my cpu is i7-4700hq. Temperatures never go over 100 degrees. I’ve never had any performance issues, crashing, nothing. Well, except for some issues with shockwave flash but I don’t think that counts.

    I was just running Mozilla, had like 11 tabs open, two of them were videos and I was posting in a forum, so I was barely doing anything. It randomly shut down, like it does when you force it shut? I turned it back on and it took a few extra seconds but everything is fine. I’ve had six laptops so far and five of them were faulty, so I’m freaking out.

    • Osama Took My Cat says:

      That’s an expensive laptop! If it’s under warranty take it back and they should have a look at it. Tell them you have a lot of important files on there and you don’t want a replacement.

  • Alexa Corleone Mach says:

    HELP!!! my 5-year old son plugged the computer speaker where it’s not supposed to be (i.e power socket) of my ASUS laptop. after a minute or two, computer shutdown and wont turn on again. Tried to plug the correct power cord to see if it’s just a dead battery, but still no power. what to do next????

    • Osama Took My Cat says:

      Probably a damaged socket, if it’s still under warranty, take it back to where you got it. They should repair it for free. If not, then take it to a PC repair shop and they’ll fix it for a good bit cheaper than retail.

  • June Wilson says:

    I feel that Google Chrome which is what I use to play games on Facebook is causing my laptop to get hot and cut off. My reason for thinking this is because the only time my computer gets hot is when I play the games. Am I wrong??

    • Osama Took My Cat says:

      Google Chrome is notorious for using a lot of RAM while running. Try using another browser, such as Opera or Firefox. Also, try not to have too many tabs open while playing games, as it strains the CPU.

  • My laptop is 3/4 years old. And I format last week because of virus.
    Everything is looking good except sudden shutting down. Mine is shut down randomly so I have to restart again and again. After doing this 4 or 5 times, back to normal. I don’t know why. I think that overheating is not concerned about because later and hotter, it is ok and steadfast for during the day.

    • Osama Took My Cat says:

      A lot of the time a Virus that was once on your PC can still affect it indirectly through corrupting important files (registry, boot files etc.). Try using a Windows CD and repairing it through there.

  • Mr. Misanthropy says:

    even when i’m not doing much on it. it will shut down and overheat…its so annoying.

  • It doesn’t have a chance to get hot. It won’t boot up. Also, it won’t stay on long enough to get into F8 and/or F2. It just displays the mfgr name & shuts down, over & over again. Any thoughts on what I can do?

    • Osama Took My Cat says:

      Something like that sound like it’s either a particularly nasty virus, or (probably) something to do with your hardware.

      Have you recently replaced any parts on the laptop?

  • vinu thampi says:

    Please tell me What can I do if my laptop is shutting down automatically by the above mentioned reason (No. 4 – Display Driver crash). My display driver is ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5470.

  • daisydaisy says:

    i have a problem with the fan its not working please what to do?….thank you

  • pasang dorji says:

    while using internet after 20 – 30 minutes my laptops shuts down and restart itself. what should i do to fix this problem.

  • Bella Sunday Michael says:

    my system is offing after using it like 20min -30min what should i do to fix this problem

  • zac morris says:

    Can someone tell me what kind of HP laptop is that??

  • angelito forbes says:

    How can solved my loptop problem ?
    My loptop turning off just a few menutes use when its turning off I can open I just removed the battery and wait for a day and when I back the battery they turn on after a few menutes they turn off again

  • Matthew Harvey says:

    My problem is No.5

    Installed Malware.. but never completed since the laptop kept shutting down.

    Only solution: Download Ubuntu LTS OS.

    Format Laptop, Install Ubuntu LTS

    fixed.

  • Yousra_Morocco says:

    I don’t know which one is my problem the sudden shut down only happened twice now. From the day I bought my laptop I never change anything on it also I play that online game on google chrome a lot for like one year on that laptop but never shut down randomly until now I also do not use the battery at all I only plug the power cable since I only use it at home but at the moment I’m using the battery so I though it could be because of the power cable but still I’m using it for like a year so I’m not sure why this happened now !?

  • “Watt” is the power unit, not voltage.
    I’ve all drivers installed, my charger can be faulty but I never run a game on any device.
    When I keep the laptop on all day it shuts down. Overheating.

  • Kitsune Person1000 says:

    My laptop keeps turning off by itself because my charger ruined my battery a little. I left it in for too long by accident a few times + I kept putting it in a few times when the battery was fine cause I had to go somewhere and it messed up my battery and now it keeps turning off automatically when it hits a certain percentage. Idk how to fix this but I wanna do it on my own because paying for it to be fixed will cost too much and I don’t wanna make my parents buy a new one ;-;

    • um? you should be running the laptop off the charger itself when possible, it will not ruin the battery, there’s no overcharge for laptops, atleast not gaming laptops.

  • eriti khan says:

    my laptop shutdown actomaticaly without any reason no heat no dust i perchase it a few months ago about 6 months

    • Jhean Khar Pacina says:

      Mine also does the same. Just bought it last January 2016.

  • eriti khan says:

    My laptop (lenovo core i5) automatically turns itself off at random times..the screen goes off and i hear a clicking sound somewhere near the place where the charger goes into the laptop…this happens at such random times…sometimes while playing a game..watching a movie…or just normal browsing…it is not due to the system overheating i know that because the laptop is not hot and this happens even when i have just switched on the laptop…please help someone…i need to know exactly what the problem is so that i can tell the service center people what the problem is so that they can fix it…thank you

    • dude im having the same problem,its happened once to me while i had minecraft running and 3 oppened browsers,dude take a look at your charger,i was running minecraft at everything low,but i had lots of elements in it,i have a levovo Z50-70 i7 precessor GPU 840m nvidia and i have the same clicking sound somewhere near the charger iinput,check your watt on it,mine was 65 and iwas running a game,i think thats the problem.

    • Jhean Khar Pacina says:

      Mine’s also of Lenovo.

    • Nikhil Pandya says:

      My lenovo laptop suddenly shuts down on its own just after few minutes of operation. I can hear the fan sound and its not the normal sound as it was in earlier days. but it is not getting that hot. I was trying to install some temp monitoring software but in between the installation only it shuts down. Please suggest what to do?

      Now i noticed one more thing : I started my laptop and did nothing and kept it on to see how long it remains on. It remained ON for more than 3 Hours, than after 3 hours I started doing some work on it like opened browser and downloaded something. Then it went off within few minutes.

  • Rose C Kvalsvig says:

    Hi over use on my windows 10 in the internet department results in my computer doing a complete shut down in a blink with no heads up of wy or reason for doing so any assistance

    • same here in Win10. Overheating NOT the issue! Started happening about a week ago and happens about once a day, usually after being online a while. I am able to switch straight back on afterwards though and my device will keep working> I use a Samsung notebook with an i3 processor, about 3 years old Might consider doing a re-set and reinstalling Windows if it keeps happening.

      • i just bought my laptop and it happened yesterday…….can someone help? is it windows 10 fault?

    • Jack Thompson says:

      Just started having this problem. I’m using a laptop. My laptop turns back on as if nothing went wrong. I lose anything I haven’t saved. I’ve had this laptop for over a year.

  • is formatting gonna resolve d issue ?

  • Mine was off when I came back from the shops and I checked to see if the charger had come out, but it hadn’t, then I returned to watch a movie on the built in DVD player, and suddenly it started making a weird sound like a motor grinding.I turned off the movie but the problem stayed, then I ejected the disk and closed my lid, once I re opened it to sign back in the noise started again then stopped. Any ideas?

  • Anne Reyes says:

    HELP…. mine too, after i reformat my laptop,it’s always shutting down.

  • Mine is always “saying shutting” down and it never shuts down. Pls help me

    • Jhean Khar Pacina says:

      Mine too. It has been doing that for almost two weeks. T.T

  • Chefallie Soetowidjojo says:

    mine is only shutting down when i wanna play music, but it automatically starts again. but i cant seem to play music on my laptop. pls help

  • LoL @ Tiffany trying to look all sexy in her display picture.

  • My laptop shuts down after 5-8 minutes of playing Stardew Valley, it doesn’t shut down when I use any other apps. After that, I switch my laptop back on but then it happens again, I keep on loosing progress and it’s so annoying. This has happened 3-8 times already, what do?

    • Shreyansh Jain says:

      broo right this is alsoo happening withh mee and i am alsoo sicked off itt

  • jackietheboss23 says:

    mys do that when i get on youtube for some reason when i watch something on youtube for like 2 mins it it shuts off comepletly in an instant im thinking im not gnna use a labtop no more since its doing that on my dell labtop witch dell sucks and the breakdown labtops

    • I also experienced random shutdowns / restarts in Ubuntu 14.04 / 16.04.

      While watching Youtube it mostly shuts down. I also play some flash player games in browser. I tried different environment – LXDE , Unity , Gnome , etc but it was never solved. Even cleaned fan vents, without opening, by blowing air through straw. Always kept laptop in power saving mode still it had shutdown.

      At last found out that Adobe Flash Player was cause.

      Uninstalled Adobe Flash no more random auto shut downs.

      Try browser with adobe flash player in WINE.

  • Mihajlo Medjedovic says:

    For all of you whom all of these steps aren’t helping, there are probably a cold solder joints (balls) under the GPU and that requires resoldering.

  • shehzad roy says:

    Whenever i join any flash chatroom, My lapi turn of automaticaly.. and when i turn it on again, it does not start at one boot. It should down again in starting. and again i turn it on and it turns on..Solution

  • La gran José macho says:

    I tried pulling out the RAM and leaving one in.
    I tried a different HDD
    I’ve tried with and without the charger
    I’ve tried with and without the battery.

    Unless both RAM chips are bad, I don’t know.

  • “with the preferred voltage from 100w to 240w”. Do you even know what you are saying?
    Neither of these are right. The amount of power a charger can deliver is not the reason it can have problems when drawing too much power.
    The amount of current it can deliver is. Once an application draws more current than the supplier can deliver, the Voltage drops.

    • Ondřej Walletzký says:

      And guess what. Since the output voltage of the PSU has a relatively stable value (unless you draw too much current from it, then the voltage drops as you said) and the power is a product of the voltage and the current, the maximum current that can be drawn from the PSU is directly related to the maximum output power of the PSU. So the author’s statement makes sense, unlike yours.

      The author’s problem with that section of the article is using term “voltage”, while actually referring to “power”.

      By the way, did you read what you’ve posted? The sentence “The amount of power a charger can deliver is not the reason it can have problems when drawing too much power.” makes no sense.

  • OSS Joseph says:

    definitely mine is a virus

    but still cannot remove it

  • ok thanks for the reason you mentioned below.

  • Thanks for the tips I noticed this new laptop has good hardware but a low charger output (65w).