Windows 10 computer freezes at random times

Windows 10 Home 64x
3.40 gigahertz Intel Core i5-4670K
ASRock Z97 Extreme6 motherboard
Several USB devices (external hard drives, scanner, card reader)

I have a custom-build desktop computer that has started to get a little temperamental. Occasionally it will just become completely unresponsive. At first this happened once in a while when I was using it and I just wrote it off to a fluke. I attributed it to a random static shock or demons. Now it is happening more often, and happens when there is nobody in the room. The monitor image freezes, mouse will not respond, nothing on the keyboard responds, including Caps Lock and Num Lock lights. Once it happened while there was audio playing and the audio just turned into a hum. I am assuming it was stuck on the audio quantum being played at that moment. I have to do a power-down reboot to restart it.

Last night I let Task Manager run and when I got up this morning it was dead again, and the highest task on the CPU list was Modern Host Setup using in the teens of CPU%.

Any troubleshooting steps are welcome. Because of the nature of the failure it is very difficult to collect any type of diagnostics at the moment of failure.

There is software called MemTest, I believe, that runs from a CD boot. Test your memory. There is also software that tests hard drives the same way. I’d definitely do that.

I’d also suggest checking for overheating. Open the case and make sure that all fans are spinning (including possibly one on the video card). Check that all vents are free of dust. You also could try reseating all chips and cards.

Checking for overheating is a good idea, along with the canned air. I would also make sure you have a sufficiently large power supply.

Have you looked into event viewer for the times the freezes occured? It’s not guaranteed, but sometimes it contains valuable information about what may have caused the freezes.

Probably a stupid question, but: Are you sure Windows isn’t just updating? I’ve found that Windows 10 has an infuriating habit of updating itself without giving you any indication whatsoever that it’s doing so, besides becoming completely unresponsive. Eventually it will unfreeze and tell you it needs to restart, but it doesn’t bother to tell this until it’s finished downloading and is actually ready to be restarted.

There does seem to be a Windows update in flight that is incomplete. I have been running the update troubleshooter to try to fix this. The troubleshooter told me about three problems it found and claims to have fixed. Now the Windows update panel in system settings says

Feature update to Windows 10, version 1903
Status: Preparing to install - 80%

and has been stuck on 80% for about 10 minutes.

This might be part of the issue. I have not seen a freeze for an update. I have only seen updates happen on a restart. If it freezes again maybe I’ll let it sit and see if it comes back.

I would start with unplugging everything not essential, especially USB devices. Then see how things run.

Hmm, let me check. CPU is 4-core, single threaded. So a core maxed out would be 25%. (I was wondering if you had an 4-core, 2 threaded CPU. Then teens would indicate something was being pinned to the max.)

A HD failing produces freezes as a bad sector is found then the system tries to re-read/write until until it gives up and uses another sector. SMART reduces this but once enough sectors go bad, then the real fun begins.

Of course there’s the old standby: Malware. Update and scan.

And the downside of this is that certain combinations of AV software and hardware results in unacceptable loads.

Modern Setup Host is the process that handles major Windows feature updates, so the 1903 update is probably what that is. However, actual freezing and unresponsiveness isn’t a symptom of Windows Update running. It could be a failing hard drive. I’ve seen that happen a couple times with a spinning hard drive with bad sectors. The computer works fine until the system tries to access something on a bad sector, then anything that tries to access the disk becomes unresponsive (though the mouse cursor and any apps that are already loaded in RAM still work OK for the time being). If you have an SSD usually they’re either all good or they just completely fail to a blue screen. That 1903 update could be running into something bad on the drive and then throwing a fit.

Second checking the event viewer. Look for errors especially.

After many tries I finally successfully completed the Windows upgrade to Windows 10 version 1903. The system seems to be stable now. Perhaps **DCnDC **was on the right track. Apparently this update had been continually failing silently. When I forced the update manually it failed about three times before it finally completed. And it’s been running 12 hours without a hiccup.

hey there, ol’ chap … it’s good you offered the specs to your setup. however, equally important is how the computer arrived at your doorstep … win-10 or win-8 or win-7 … due to hardware compatibility tolerances.

anyway … your issue ‘seems’ to have cleared … once your computer successfully updated to 1903. somewhat recently … think with this 1903 version … windows now allows for additional configurations … for dealing with updates. look into that … might be less stressful in your future¹.

now then … upon it’s debut, win-10 arrived with a feature labeled as “wudo”* … enabled by default. get to know what it does and how it can affect your environment. in matters of accord … microsoft asks your computer for certain files … to update others’ computers … rather than using it’s own servers for this process. simplified, this is wudo in action. i have disallowed wudo’s ‘sharing updates’ … immediately, my computer stopped being unresponsive. [my oem had also been win-8 … which may have exacerbated the issue.] my suspicion is that your computer may have wudo enabled. along with your own updates, and helping others with their updates … your system becomes stressed and overtaxed.

also … no idea if you aggressively update your setup … or wait until microsoft pulls out the tommy-gun. my train of thought is this: wait until ms insists on each specific update … that way, the bugs will have been worked out with others’ updates.

primarily, for others’ benefit … never interrupt an ongoing update. my own experience … during upgrade (online) from win-8 to win-10 … my computer sat at 1% for 7½ hours before migrating to 2% … took another 2¼ hours to complete win-10 upgrade. do not touch your computer. and, if laptop, keep the computer plugged into wall-outlet during updates.

one final note … if you watch carefully … you may see some updates successfully install … and, then, turn around and install again … this is normal. updates can ‘take’ and can sometime ‘not-take’ … until other files have been installed … within certain sequence of events. just let ms do her thing … and you should be fine.

*wudo: windows update delivery optimization

It was not stable, but after one more Windows update it seems to have settled down. Apparently there were some bugs in 1903. Although there were no known issues causing freezing, after a subsequent update, which ran successfully the first time, I have not had this happen again.

Thanks again to everyone who helped me troubleshoot this.