Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Anonymous from west plains, MO. Anonymous Wonders, “Why do computers crash?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Anonymous!
Do you like to surf the Internet? Who doesn't, right? You can never get enough funny cat videos and Wonders of the Day! Every once in a while, though, you'll be enjoying your time on the computer when suddenly everything comes to a standstill.
You try moving the mouse or pressing a few keys. Nothing works. Your computer seems to be frozen. You wait. You tap a few more keys. You move the mouse back and forth. You wait some more. Still nothing. What's going on? Your computer crashed!
Computer crashes can occur while you're traveling the information superhighway, trying to write a poem in a word processor, crunching some numbers in a spreadsheet, or many other times. There's nothing worse than trying to enjoy some productive time on the computer only to have your primary tool malfunction.
What causes a computer crash? Because computers are complex machines with many different pieces that work together, it can be hard to narrow down the exact cause of a computer crash. In general, though, there are several types of problems that can cause your computer to crash.
If you were to peek inside your computer, you would see it's filled with a variety of different types of hardware. From disk drives and memory chips to power supplies and cooling fans, computers rely on a wide variety of pieces of hardware to function.
The failure of any piece of hardware could lead to a computer crash. An interruption of the power supply, a damaged hard disk, or a malfunction in a memory chip can all cause massive problems in a computer.
Despite all the things that can go wrong with hardware, experts will tell you that most computer crashes are caused by glitches in a computer's software. Software consists of the programs that run on your computer. They're created by humans who write computer code. Unfortunately, that code often contains bugs.
No, we don't mean actual insects. Computer bugs are glitches in software code that lead to malfunctions and sometimes crashes. For example, software might contain code that provides instructions to retrieve data from a certain storage area. If that storage area contains no data or is corrupted in some way, the computer may freeze and crash because it doesn't know what to do when a command fails.
Any piece of software can contain bugs. Crashing may be more severe if bugs exist in the computer's operating system, which is the key piece of software that manages and serves as an interface between hardware and other software.
For example, the operating system allocates memory between all of the software applications running on a computer. If too many programs are running, a computer may crash because the operating system is using all available memory simply trying to switch between the different programs demanding resources.
Another software-based source of computer crashes is the dreaded computer virus. A computer virus is a seemingly-harmless program that contains code that corrupts a computer. Viruses can be spread from computer to computer via the Internet, email, websites, etc. When corrupted by a virus, your computer may develop multiple problems that cause repeated crashes.
If you find that your computer is crashing on a regular basis, it's best to have it checked by an information technology specialist. These experts are trained to diagnose and fix computer problems. Hopefully your computer will be back up and running in no time!