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Error Messages
March 2003

Russell James is Operations Manager at BJ Associates of San Antonio. They are an authorized service center for Toshiba and Sony systems. They are the laptop specialist and also handle system builds and parts for desktops. They can take care of any IBM compatible hardware or software problem that you have.


What causes errors to occur when you are working on your computer? The errors themselves are usually caused by one of two things. There are hardware and software problems that you will come across. Most of the errors that you receive are correctable. It is going to be a balance of patience, stubbornness and research. Letís take some time this month to look at a few of the software errors that you might encounter.

One of the errors that you might encounter is what is called a Fatal Exception Error. A program is usually written with exception handling included. The Fatal Exception Error comes when a program generates an error that the operating system cannot handle correctly. This could be a request for a block of memory to run itself in. For some reason the operating system cannot honor the memory request. It could be that the block of memory that has been requested is larger than the amount of available memory. This could be because of the amount of physical memory in the system or just a combination of the programs that are running at the same time.

For one reason or another, the request for memory is denied and the operating system displays the dreaded Fatal Exception Error. The error will read something like,
A fatal exception XY has occurred at xxxx:xxxxxxxx

The XY represents the actual processor exception from 00 to 0F. The xxxx:xxxxxxxx is the actual address where the exception occurred. This article on the Microsoft Knowledge Base gives a general explanation of the various exceptions that you might encounter. Q150314.

An Invalid Page Fault is an error that occurs between a program and the operating system swap file. The error will usually be stated in the form of, <program name> has caused an invalid page fault in module <file name>

When a program is started, it writes part of the data into memory so that you can use it. An error can occur when a program tries to write data to a location beyond the end of a memory block or tries to access a non-existent block of memory. The operating system will see the problem, stop the offending program from continuing and send an error message to your screen. These errors will generally be associated with a particular program or device that you are using on your system. If it is a new device then the problem is usually going to be with the software or drivers that the operating system uses to access the device. Whether it is a mouse, scanner, printer or any other type of hardware, there are going to be drivers that Windows uses. This is where the search will begin.

An illegal operation occurs when a program asks the processor to do something that it does not understand or cannot perform because of the state it is in. The processor stops to complain to the operating system and the program is shut down to correct the problem. It is another type of error that is going to require some effort on your part to research and find a solution. 

I have only come across one time in the last few years that I was not able to use the Internet to find the solution to the problem. In that one instance, I contacted the company that had manufactured the network card that I was having problems with. The problem ended up being an issue between the system and the card. The manufacturer had to rewrite the firmware for the network card to make it work with the laptop I was working on. All the other searches have come up with a resolution to my problems. Some faster than others but there was a solution out there.

Microsoftís Knowledge Base is a good place to start to track down these types of errors. Google is also a good source of information. You will need to write down the error that has occurred. If there is a details button you will need the first couple of lines within the details box. This will usually give you the name of the offending program within the error message. 

There are a lot of problems that can occur because of the seemingly endless number of programs that are available. Most of the larger companies will spend the time to test their programs better that the smaller companies but this is not always the case. No matter what the company or program, there is no way that they will be able to test for every situation that could arise. This is why you should utilize the tools that are available to you to update the programs that you have. This will allow you to correct any problems that have been found before you came along. 

A lot of programs have the ability to check for updates written into the program for this very reason. After the initial installation, you should look at the help section of the program if you are not prompted to look for updates. Windows XP will prompt you to set up how you want to handle updates. You can choose to automatically download the updates and notify you when they are ready to be installed or you can choose to manually update your system. 

Microsoft Office products do not have any sort of automatic updates within the programs but if you go to the Microsoft Office update site, you can install and run an ActiveX component that will search your system and let you know what updates that you need. You then are given the opportunity to download and install the updates for your programs.

You will need to take the initiative to go to the website of the programs vendors that do not have automatic updates written into their program. Usually there will be a link to the company website from within the help file or by clicking on Help and then About. Navigate to the support section or a search box within the site to find the location of any program updates that are available.

You donít have to live with errors that can occur. You have the resources available to find and implement the solutions to the errors that you may receive. There are going to be times that your errors will be caused by faulty hardware. In these instances, identifying and replacing the faulty hardware will correct your problems. When there is software involved the solutions will take a little more work on your part. Patience and diligence will serve you well as you search for your solutions.


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