Fatal System Error or Blue Screen
by Karl Davis
This problem is normally caused by a program not behaving as it should. In other words, Windows doesn't know what to do when the program issues certain instructions. The result can be either a message box indicating a fatal program error, or a blue screen indicating a fatal system error.
The message box usually allows the user to terminate the offending program without affecting the operation of the rest of the system. The blue screen will normally require the user to reset the system.
A program will not behave properly for several reasons. The program may be corrupt. This can be caused by improper installation (by the program's Setup program, not the user), bad memory (RAM), or bad data on the hard drive.
Run SCANDISK to verify the integrity of the hard drive. SCANDISK will check the hard drive for errors, and fix them if possible. Also, if there are spots on the hard drive which can no longer hold data, SCANDISK will mark these to prevent the system from trying to use the bad portions of the drive. See the section on User Maintenance for instructions on how and when to run SCANDISK.
If SCANDISK finds and fixes problems, a re-installation may fix the fatal error problem. First un-install the program in question to delete any files which may be corrupt. Then re-install the program according to the vendor's instructions.
If SCANDISK doesn't find hard drive problems, or the problem occurs with many programs, and randomly, the problem may be bad RAM chips. Have your memory tested by a professional. Incidentally, most memory chips sold today are guaranteed for life, so be sure to keep all purchase information if you upgrade your RAM.
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