Four Ways To Fix Problems In Windows Without Rebooting And Losing Work

With SSDs becoming increasing common, rebooting your PC takes seconds, rather than minutes. But, machines with four-to-eight gigabytes of RAM are even more prevalent, so the temptation to run a multitude of programs, themselves with many open tabs or windows, is great. Operating systems have come a long way in terms of memory management and stability, but occasionally you'll run into an issue that can only be solved with a reboot.

Here are a few ways you can postpone that restart and keep working, at least until a better time presents itself.

Disable/Enable In Device Manager

On my laptop, my TV and its output audio source are usually detected when I plug it in via the HMDI port. But not always. A reboot fixes the problem, but I've found I can just disable the video adaptor and/or the HDMI audio device under "Sound, video and game controllers" and it'll immediately begin working again. If you find a card reader, mouse or similar peripheral is giving you grief, a visit to Device Manager and a quick disable/enable is definitely warranted.

Killing The Windows Desktop Manager Process

With the introduction of hardware-accelerated desktop rendering in Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft's operating system was given a new process — "dwm.exe", otherwise known as the Desktop Windows Manager. In a nutshell, it handles all desktop-related graphics, including program windows.

If you've ever noticed your desktop acting strangely — for example, being unable to maximise open windows in the taskbar — you can attempt to kill the "dwm.exe" process in Task Manager. It'll restart automatically, usually banishing any problems it was causing with it.

Use Unlocker To Move, Delete And Access Locked Files

Before DWM, there was (and still is) Windows Explorer. It's been giving users grief since Windows 95, when it succeeded the aging File Manager. From time to time, files will become locked for mysterious reasons — despite closing any and all relevant applications that could be using the file, it still remains inaccessible. That's where a neat little program called Unlocker steps in.

Unlocker not only tells you what programs are holding onto a locked file, it can release those locks, saving you the need to reboot. It integrates into the context menu, so you can easily pick the troublesome file and free it up. Worst case scenario, Unlocker will offer to delete the file on the next reboot.

Free Loads Of Memory By Terminating Chrome's Shockwave Plug-In

One of the most memory-hungry Chrome processes is actually the Adobe plug-in responsible for rendering Flash objects. In Chrome, go to Tools -> Task manager and then order the processes by memory in descending order (just click on the "Memory" column twice). As I write this, Shockwave Flash is the main offender, sucking up 1GB (!) of RAM. Instead of restarting Chrome, you can just kill Shockwave. Any videos in open tabs will be terminated also, but it's a fast, easy way of reclaiming memory.

Feel free to suggest your own session-saving tips below, especially for other operating systems.


    The Chrome tab I'm in right now, on this website, is taking up more memory than Chrome's Shockwave Flash - this tab 139k, Shockwave Flash only 78k

    If actual windows is playing up sometimes you can also go to task manager and kill explorer.exe processes tab and then go to menu File > New task (run) and type explorer.exe.

    This has helped me in a few situations where the task bar has completely disappeared.

    I couldn't tell you the last time I had to worry about any of this stuff. It would be years, at least. Treat your computer with a little respect and common sense and it should never give you any problems at all.

      Congratulations. For the rest of us, who actually use our computers to do actual work, these can be very real, very annoying issues.

    Couldnt agree more. ensure you bring it flowers and chocolates once a week. Soft light ...... Barry white and never take for granted ...

    this a worthy thread for anyone who uses (more than 10% of their brain / computer ). if you're in the 99 percentile who just uses the browser and maybe chat/calc/word/photoview, then it won't be of interest.
    the most demanding user of memory is typically the browser, but this is less of a problem these days, unless you reopen your 50+ last-used tabs after every restart. judicious use of your browser, or browsers will go a long way toward making them run more smoothly.
    I have found one of the most problematic resource users is Java, particularly JUSched.exe, which causes frequent and inexplicable slow downs, its worth disabling it in startup; also if you have changed your Antivirus Suite and your computer is much slower now, you should look at an alternative program, some such as Norton are notorious for causing system conflicts and slowdowns.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now