Dwight Watt - Newspaper Article #201 5/22/2013

Question: What is a computer crash?


A computer crash is when your computer stops working unexpectedly. They may have a blue display come up on the monitor or everything may totally shut down. It just means the computer quit when it should still be going. It is not where the machine ran into something like when a car crash occurs and the equipment is all scatter about. The damage occurs inside the machine. Sometimes people will say their computer died instead of it cashed, but almost always they are fixable so it is not a permanent death

Quite often people will speak of their computer crashing or they will say they had a blue screen of death which is also sometimes referred to by its acronym of BSOD. When something goes wrong with Windows that prevents it from continuing to run it will produce a blue screen with lots of little white characters. Most of the characters on the screen are showing what was in the machine memory when it crashed or died. Near the top of the screen usually there is a message that tries to tell what caused the crash. It is usually spelled out but may not make a lot of sense but there is also usually a hexadecimal code there that can be helpful for figuring out the problem. It will look like 0x00000000 where each 0 can be a hexadecimal (base 16 number system) digit of 0 through 9 or A through F. I used to see in the early 2000s lots of 0x0000007c errors that were problems with the hard drive.

Quite often now people do not see the blue screens as the Windows Vista and 7 will try rebooting real quickly then people see the message about doing normal or safe boots. If you get a blue screen of death look for the 0x0000000 type number. Write it down,. Then get on another machine and you can search on the Internet for that code (using Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) to find what causes it or to tell the repair person what the code was. Often tuning the power off on the PC and waiting a couple minutes and then restarting it may solve the problem.

Other times your computer may just quit due to parts inside the computer failing. Quite often there will be no message. All you will know if the machine is not working and the monitor power light is still on. The first thing to try is just turning the machine back on. If it was a surge of electricity (or a drop in power) you may be lucky and nothing hurt. (I strongly suggest you have at least a surge protector on your computer power if not a UPS.) Things that fail occasionally that will crash a computer include modem cards if you do dialup (lightning strikes in the neighborhood are chronic causes), memory cards failing, the hard disk failing, fans quitting so the machine overheats and network cards failing.

It is important you backup data and information you have on your computer regularly so if the PC crashes you still have your information and data. Whatever you were working on that you have not saved is most likely lost when the computer crashes

The good news on computer crashes is that we donít have a physical mess to clean up. The bad news is that we may need to get new parts inside the PC and may have lost our information in the PC.

Thanks Ms Blevins for the question.