Take control of an unresponsive computer with Antifreeze

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Freeware program Antifreeze offers a last recourse when your computer freezes/becomes unresponsive.

Invoked by a hotkey combination (CTRL-Win-Alt-Home), it will “put to sleep all running programs except the most critical ones”, with the objective of giving you back the ability to intervene and close problematic programs.

Imagine the situation: you’ve been working on a project for some time when your computer suddenly hangs.

You do not know when was the last time that you’d saved, but you would very much prefer not to hit the reset button, even though by the looks of it it seems that that’s going to be inevitable.

The mouse is still moving, but the task manager is not coming up, and everything is frozen.

Thoughts race through your head: why, why why did my computer do this? Is it a virus? Or perhaps I was running too many programs? But how can I go back and close programs and windows when everything is in a virtual coma and not even the task manager is coming up? Good thing I installed Antifreeze; surely now once I press its hotkey combination I will get control of my system back and be able to take some remedial action.

I’ve had this program installed for a few days now, waiting (hoping) for Windows to crash, but unfortunately (?) it didn’t. So there you have it: you cannot count on Windows to crash when you want it to!! I should’ve bought a Mac ;).

Therefore I am going a bit on a limb recommending this program that I was not able to test. I’m hoping that it works as advertised; please report on your experience with this program and whether or not it worked for you in the comments section below.

How it works: I did try it without a crash, and here’s what happens: a distinct beep followed by the screen being cleared of all but the background wallpaper, followed by the Antifreeze console which looks like a sleeker, more advanced version of the windows task manager. The Antifreeze console will announce that it has disabled all but the critical Windows processes, and will allow you to shut down the other applications/processes. It will display a list that shows the memory and CPU usage of apps and processes.

According to the Antifreeze help file, Antifreeze works well if the computer hangs or becomes unresponsive due to the following :

  • One or more programs are engaged in intensive tasks and consume too much processor cycles, causing the system to become unresponsive
  • One or more programs consume so much memory that the swapping file is heavily used, overloading the system
  • Programs are running with a scheduling priority which is so high that they consume all processor resources
  • Too many programs are running at the same time and they all have to compete for attention from the processor..

A few more notes on this:

  • To have access to it when you need it, you will have to keep it running in memory at all times. The good news is that it takes only about 4 megs of memory. One thing I would have liked: the ability to remove the Antifreeze icon from the system tray.
  • It is NOT guaranteed to work.
  • If your computer is frozen but the mouse still moves, that is a good sign (the opposite is probably not a good sign).

Version Tested: 1.00 build 100.3111

Compatibility: Windows XP Service Pack 2 (including x64 edition), Server 2003 Service Pack 2, Vista (including x64 edition).

Go to the download page to get the latest version (approx 732K). Also visit the program home page.