Why Does My Computer Shut Off By Itself Unexpectedly?: Common Causes and Fixes

computer shuts off without warning

If you have ever asked yourself the question “Why does my computer shut down without warning?“, you know how frustrating this can be. This is not referring to a computer shutting itself off and then restarting, but just spontaneously shutting down without coming back on.

This scenario can be caused by several different reasons, including heat issues, issues or errors with the computer hardware, presence of a virus, failing hardware, or operating system issues.

When it comes to diagnosing PC problems, some issues are more apparent than others, especially to those of us who are not computer experts.

Here we examine some causes for the problem as well as some common fixes.

Read also: 5 Signs That Your Laptop Is In Need of Repair


Most of the time when a computer suddenly shuts down for no apparent reason, it is due to the processor or other part of the computer becoming too hot. If you suspect this is the cause, the first step is to check the fan on the computer to make sure it is functioning properly. You may wish to open the computer to see if other components such as the video card fans, case fans, and processor fans are all performing as they should. Also, think back and try to recall if you have recently noticed any abnormal or excessively loud noises with the computer right before or at around the time the problems began. This could indicate that one or more of the fans have failed. Today’s computers are meant to shut down when they become overheated, as a protective measure.

While you have the computer open, it is a good idea to clean out dust and debris that may have collected. Use a can of compressed air to spray things clean without having to touch anything. You may also be able to monitor the function of the fans in your computer by using a software utility called SpeedFan, or by using the BIOS monitor to check the RPM on the fans.

Another possible issue to check out while inside the computer is the heat sink of the processor. Examine it to make certain that it is connected properly and that it has enough thermal compound around it. Too little thermal compound or improper attachment can lead to issues with the computer becoming too hot.

Issues With Hardware

Any issues with hardware failure may cause the computer to shut off unexpectedly. The most likely culprit would be any new hardware additions, provided your computer was working fine before adding the hardware. Try removing the newest additions to see if this resolves the issue, and check your computer device manager to see if there are any types of hardware conflicts.

Read also: 15 Useful Tips to Fix PC Randomly Restarts


Though probably not the most likely cause of this problem, it could be possible that a virus is the culprit. If there seems to be a pattern to when the computer shuts off, such as at a certain time of day or when using a specific program, this is may be the cause. Be sure you are running an up to date antivirus program and make sure to perform a scan for any malware that may be causing problems.

Read also: Where Do Computer Viruses Come From?

Operating System Problems

If after trying all of these common fixes for the issue you are still experiencing problems, it may that the Windows operating system will need to be reinstalled. You can test this theory by rebooting the computer and entering CMOS setup. Allow the computer to sit for awhile and see if it turns off or not. If it does turn off, your problem lies elsewhere, perhaps with another failing hardware issue such as the CPU, RAM, power supply, video card, or motherboard. However, if the computer remains on, reinstallation of the OS is recommended.


If you are handy enough with a computer to attempt these fixes at home, you can save yourself some money on repairs. However, due to the risk of damaging your computer due to ElectroStatic Discharge, or ESD, you may wish to take it into a qualified computer repair dealer. If you still wish to attempt the fixes yourself, read up on how to prevent ESD while working with your computer and its components.

Read more: 6 Common Computer Nightmares and Possible Ways to Fix Them

[Image credit: imagerymajestic, FreeDigitalPhotos.net]


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