Most hardware lockups are the result of bad hardware drivers or hardware itself, by which I mean the peripheral devices you have installed, and not your PC. First, try to remember what changed just before these lockups occurred. Did you add or remove hardware? Are all of the device drivers you are using written specifically for Windows ME, or are they from Windows 95/98 and just happen to work on ME. You may want to try unplugging some devices and see if this resolves the issue. I would also try to verify the drivers in use and update them whenever you can. Last, but not least, I would try running a Registry cleaning tool such as RegVac which will detect and remove useless fragments in your system registry that may be causing instabilities.
This was first published in March 2004