What to Do with a Hung or Unresponsive Windows 7 Program


Sooner or later it happens to all of us – a Windows program gets hung up and just sits there frozen. You can open Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) and try to close the hung program or use the command line to kill it (see this link). But sometimes you might want to see if you can find out why the program got hung up in the first place or you may want to try to unfreeze it. In that case, Windows 7 has just the system tool you need.

It’s called Resource Monitor and has many features (see this article). One of them is a way to troubleshoot programs that don’t respond. Here is how it works:

  1. Open Resource Monitor by entering “resmon” in the Start-Search bar. Alternatively, open Task Manager ( keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+Esc), and click on the "Performance" tab  and then the button "Resource Monitor".
  2. An example of the window that opens is shown in this figure. In the CPU section of the "Overview" tab, right-click the executable file of the hung application. The listing of the hung application will be colored red.
  3. Analyze Wait Chain in Resource MonitorThe context menu that opens is shown on the right. You can close the hung process from this menu or you can choose the entry “Analyze Wait Chain…”  to see what other processes may be interacting with the hung program. If you know that an entry in the wait chain is not crucial you can try ending that process to see if it frees up the hung program. However, take care not to end a process that is vital to system operation. Ending a process here is not permanent, however, and rebooting the computer will normally restart everything.

More informationWindows Seven Forums has additional details about Resource Monitor and hung programs. 

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This tips section is maintained by Vic Laurie. Vic runs several websites with Windows how-to's, guides, and tutorials, including a site for learning about Windows and the Internet and another with Windows 7 tips.

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No Problem here.

I have never been able to get this to work. "Analyze Wait Chain" says " is running normally" It isn't! "End process" and "End process tree" are ignored!

Thanks a lot for this article, v.laurie. I'm a reasonably competent pc user, but was never too sure what to do with Resource Monitor, or indeed a hung program.

I'll experiment with your suggestions in future. I'll also check out your Windows Seven Forums link.

Rgds, chig

Sir or Ma'am,
The email does not come with a clickable link?

I assume you mean the email that goes out to Gizmo subscribers. I don't see the email but all the links pertinent to tips are in the body of the article.

YES. I can't prove it: my email program is Thunderbird; & a valid link is colored blue:

http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/what-do-hung-or-unresponsive-win... was black! Only by copy & paste was I able to do anything. The other alternative was on the web, where it was fine.

You can always go to the website if there are email problems. Have you by any chance tuned off HTML in your email client and are reading things in plain text?