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Coping with Crashes

Sandra Prior
Aug 8, 2008
General protection faults and invalid page faults are guaranteed to strike fear into the hearts of PC users everywhere. We show you what to do when your digital world is crashing around you.

The dreaded system error, the 'blue screen of death', can strike when you least expect it. Just when you're feeling happy with your life, your program crashes and any unsaved work or files you might be downloading or editing are lost.

Windows system errors are difficult to diagnose because they have lots of potential causes, but there are systematic ways to eliminate most of them.

One of the most useful features of Windows is its ability to enable several programs to run on your system, at the same time. The reason this works, and the programs don't clash, is that Windows protects them from each other. An application is only allowed to access memory it 'owns' so it can't corrupt any other processes running at the same time.

If a program tries to access memory belonging to another application, this is detected, and Windows displays a message like 'Application caused a general protection fault...' and closes down the offending program.

There are other sorts of system errors like the infamous 'Invalid page fault' but they all have similar causes. Windows is very strict, and if any application breaks the rules, it gets closed down. We may hate it when that happens but better to close down one application that is misbehaving than let it go on and possibly crash the whole system.

Phantom Errors

The first thing to learn when diagnosing the causes of system error messages is not to over-react - everyone gets these problems occasionally. Don't completely reconfigure your system to try to fix an error that only happens once a month because you're likely to cause more problems than you fix.

Also, remember that one error can cause others. If you're surfing your favorite sites and your browser crashes, it can leave your system in an unstable state. This means that if you launch your browser again, you're more likely to get further system errors later. You might get errors in other applications too.

The Solution? If you're getting repeated system error messages in the same session, try restarting your system. Turn your whole system off, wait a few seconds, and turn it on again. If you still get errors, then you've shown that the problem isn't just a temporary glitch.

Errors When Browsing

Are you getting system errors when you're surfing your favorite sites? The most common cause of this kind of error is a corrupt cache or history file. With Internet Explorer you can delete the contents of your cache and the history file. If the problem persists, then it's more of a system problem or perhaps a problem with the installation itself. In this case it may be that the only solution is to wipe your whole hard drive and do a clean install.
About the Author
Subscribe to Sandra Prior's Online Newsletter and get up to date Computer Technology News delivered right to your email box for free. See website for details http://usacomputers.rr.nu and http://sacomputers.rr.nu.
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