Sometimes when your computer restarts randomly, you may see the following error message: “Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown.” It can happen without warning and interfere with your work. This is due to hardware or software issues, and it is difficult to determine the cause without some investigation. However, it is easy to implement a fix once you understand what went wrong. This guide discusses the best solutions.
good to know: Learn how to view your computer’s startup and shutdown history in Windows.
1. Check for power fluctuations and surges
This mainly concerns desktop computers. Your desktop computer requires a steady flow of power to operate reliably—but sometimes, the power supply can be inconsistent.
If you’ve experienced a computer shutdown due to a sudden power loss or accidental surge, it can corrupt system files, leading to an “unexpected shutdown” message after a reboot. When you check the event summary in the Windows Event Viewer, it will indicate a status, such as: “The previous system shutdown at date-time was unexpected.”
While the occasional power outage isn’t a big deal, frequent power outages can burn out the electronics on your motherboard, damage your disk drive, and cause your USB ports to malfunction. The solution is to go for a uninterruptible power supply (UPS) Battery backup with surge protector. Its hardware is designed to give you enough time for a graceful shutdown and protects your data and system files.
Laptop users usually don’t need a UPS backup, but it helps to connect the laptop adapter to a Power strip with surge protector, instead of directly to the power grid. In this way, the electronics are immune to any voltage fluctuations caused by mains problems or faulty wiring.
advice: Getting the error message “There are currently no power options available”? Learn how to bring back the launch menu.
2. Perform Crash Dump analysis for unexpected shutdown
In the event of a crash, Windows records and saves all your computer information in a so-called “dump file”, indicated by the .DMP extension. Analyzing the .DMP gives you a quick view of the problem so you can implement solutions afterward.
- Once you encounter an unexpected shutdown, a crash dump is created. After your computer restarts, you’ll see a pop-up window that says, “Windows has recovered from an unexpected shutdown. Windows can check the Internet for a solution to the problem.”
- Details of the problem will appear below the error message. Scroll down and note the location of the minidump (.DMP) file, which we will need to analyze further.
- Go to the computer location where the dump file is located, which is usually “C:WindowsMinidump.” Refer to the previous error screen to identify the computer location if it is different.
- You can’t use an app like Notepad to read a .DMP file, and online options are very limited. Windows does offer a native troubleshooting application called WinDbg to examine the contents of the minidump files. While you can use it, it’s a bit complicated to learn, and we don’t need to go that far. We are trying a simpler software called who collapsedwhich provides the details for the error bug.
- Once installed, click the “Analyze” button on WhoCrashed to automatically analyze all of your system’s mini-dump files.
- Wait a few seconds for the minidump analysis to finish. All information related to the crash is visible in the window itself.
- If you look closely, you can see the information related to the unexpected shutdown in the crash analysis. for example,
DRIVER_POWER_STATE_FAILUREwhich is one of the most common causes of this error.
- You’ll also notice the error code to help you take specific corrective action, such as 0x9F, 0x3, and 0xFFFFFF issues. The error may also read “Device object blocked IRP for too long”, indicating corrupt driver issues.
3. Fix outdated device drivers in device manager
As shown in the crash dump analysis above, corrupt device driver issues are the leading cause of unexpected shutdowns and should be fixed as soon as possible. The best way to do this is to check your device manager and properly check for any faulty drivers that need to be removed/upgraded.
advice: Learn how to roll back a driver in Windows.
4. Clean the Windows registry to fix 0xFFFF errors
When analyzing the dump file, you may notice that it indicates a number of 0xFFFF errors in the form of 0xFFFFFFFF85CDE890, 0xFFFFFFFF82F7BAE0 or something similar. These error codes are caused by a damaged or overloaded Windows registry, missing programs after a system crash, or a Windows update that you can’t track down.
Cleaning your Windows registry is the best method to prevent 0xFFFF errors from appearing again. Of all the methods indicated in the linked guide, we recommend the last technique: manual cleaning using the registry editor.
5. Replace faulty and outdated hardware by diagnosing with HWinfo
Frequent shutdown issues are often related to hardware issues. But as a casual user, it may be difficult to understand what went wrong. Fortunately, you don’t have to look under the hood. You can use HWinfo to get a clear picture of the faulty computer parts that need to be replaced.
- taken down HWinfo From its official link, which may be a full installer or a mobile app. These instructions apply to the installer.
- Install the program and run it. Click “Start” for HWinfo to populate all your system data.
- Check out HWinfo’s System Summary, which gives a bird’s-eye view of every critical component in your laptop: the processor, motherboard, memory modules, operating system, and disk drive. If there is a green sign next to all of these components, your system is in generally good health.
- Look under each component for signs of wear and color-coded warning indicators. Mainly check the following main components: battery, SATA/NVMe disk drives, RAM, USB ports, heatsink temperature probes and video card. The problematic hardware will be indicated by a red warning sign.
- In this example, the battery shows a wear level of 25.7%, which is quite high but not terrible. Any battery with a very high level of wear (~75%) will require immediate replacement.
- Similarly, if other critical computing components aren’t working properly, you’ll notice plenty of red flags in the right-hand column that can be a concern for long-term performance.
- The SATA hard drive in this example shows most of the green flags, which means it’s working normally. There is only one red “X” flag for removable media, as no USB drive was connected to the laptop at the time. Therefore, we do not need to replace this hard drive.
- Based on the above analysis, you can get a visual understanding of which components are failing and make the replacement yourself or contact the manufacturer or technician.
for your information: Keep up with these registry hacks that might streamline your experience.
6. Boot the system clean
The unexpected shutdown problem can also be due to incomplete processes during a previous shutdown. This creates problems during subsequent restarts when the Windows computer is still in the previous state.
To avoid this, go to the System Configuration Wizard using
msconfig in the start menu (Win + R), and click the Services tab, where you can hide all Microsoft services and disable non-Microsoft services to perform a clean boot. The exact steps of clean booting Windows have been covered in this guide.
7. Repair Windows boot using BCDEdit command and repair BCD files
Corrupt Boot Configuration Data (BCD) data files are a possible cause of sudden shutdowns and poor restarts. Basically, when the memory and processors in the configuration file have the wrong value, it can lead to marginal errors during the next computer restart.
To avoid this, open the command line in administrator mode, and enter the BCDEdit command, which fixes the bad memory. You can also repair BCD files using
bootrec Correct. Both of these methods are explored in detail in this guide. You do not need to run these commands in Safe Mode for Windows, but it is highly recommended.
8. Try advanced troubleshooting
With no hardware issues determined, there are a few other things you can try to fix the unexpected shutdown issue. For starters, you can try the various advanced troubleshooting methods in safe mode, such as boot repair, system restore, and uninstalling recent updates.
If all else fails, performing a full Windows reset via a cloud download or a local reinstall can alleviate the intractable problems your device is facing.
advice: Has the Windows troubleshooter stopped working? Learn how to restore the functionality of this tool.
Why does my Windows computer shut down automatically?
A Windows computer can shut down automatically for various reasons. This can happen due to issues with a blue screen of death (BSOD) error or corrupt drivers and power fluctuations. “Windows recovered from an unexpected shutdown” is just one example of another.
The best way to deal with any automatic shutdown is to run the System File Checker and DISM utility. You also need to disable fast startup from the control panel, which is a major cause of unexpected shutdown, because the processes related to shutdown are not completed.
Finally, update your Windows PC, which handles legacy errors.
What are some of the physical factors that cause the computer to shut down suddenly?
Besides the software and hardware issues, there are quite a few physical factors that can cause your computer to shut down suddenly without warning. The number one reason is overheating, which happens from constantly keeping the device plugged in for days, poor ventilation, caused by the surface you place the laptop on (cloth or linen can reduce airflow, which heats up your device) or dust build-up in the cell. This dust should be removed on a regular basis.
Image credit: Unsplash. All screenshots by Sayak Boral.
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