Every now and again, Windows will confront you with an error message that stops you in your tracks. We decipher the gobbledegook and provide you with the remedies. Part 1 looks at hardware and software errors
Every now and again, Windows will confront you with an error message that stops you in your tracks. We decipher the gobbledegook and provide you with the remedies
Unless you are unbelievably lucky, or have just unpacked your first computer, it's likely that at some point you will have come face-to-face with an error message on your screen.
At best, these are a minor irritation that can be dealt with relatively easily, and Windows will often help you to put things right. But a particularly cryptic error message that you have no idea how to go about fixing can stop you dead in your computing tracks.
Sadly, it's unlikely that there will come a time when your computer doesn't throw the occasional error message your way. And when you consider all the software and hardware working behind the scenes to keep your PC ticking over, it's a marvel that most of the time our computing experiences are relatively stress free.
It's also virtually impossible for software and hardware developers to foresee how all the different programs on your PC might work (or not work) together, which means that error messages are simply a part of life.
Errors need not be something to worry about, though. We've compiled a list of the most commonly encountered error messages taken from the most frequently asked questions posed by Computeractive readers. We explain what they actually mean, and give you the remedies you need to fix them.
WINDOWS INSTALLATION AND START-UP ERRORS
Error: Non-system disk or disk error. Replace and press any key when ready.
Remedy: This happens when the computer can't read the information on a floppy disk or the PC's hard disk. You may have left a floppy disk in the drive by accident; removing it and then pressing any key should solve the problem. If not, there may be a problem with the hard disk. Try pressing any key, restarting the computer, or switching it off for a few minutes before starting up again. If none of these remedies work, you may have a serious hard disk problem and you'll need to contact the computer or hard disk manufacturer, the shop where you bought the PC or hard disk, or a qualified technician.
Error: Fatal error: An error has been encountered that prevents setup from continuing. One of the components that Windows needs to continue setup could not be installed.
Remedy: This usually means that Windows XP could not read data on the setup disc. Try taking the disc out of the drive, cleaning it (by wiping a dry, clean, soft cloth in a straight line from the inside to the outside of the disc, not round in a circle), and trying again. If this doesn't work, you may have to get a replacement disc.
Error: System has recovered from a serious error.
Remedy: If you see this message every time you start the computer, it means an error is stuck in the computer's memory. Correct it by clicking on Start and right-clicking on My Computer, then choosing Properties. Click on the Advanced tab, then on the first Settings button under Performance. Click on the Advanced tab, and click on Change. In the next dialogue box, select No Paging File, then click on Set. If you get a warning message, click on Yes or OK. Then click on 'System managed size' and on OK. Close all the dialogue boxes and restart the computer.
WINDOWS HARDWARE ERRORS
Error: STOP: 0x0000000A/IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL.
Remedy: This error occurs in Windows 2000 and means that a piece of hardware has failed. It is often down to faulty PC memory, but it could also be the processor, graphics card or another device. Try restarting the computer. If the message appears again, try removing any unnecessary pieces of hardware connected to the PC and restarting it. If that doesn't help, contact the hardware device manufacturer, the shop you bought it from, or a qualified technician.
Error: Error 692: Hardware failure in port or attached device.
Remedy: This means that Windows can't see the PC's modem. If it's an external device, make sure it's properly attached and turned on, or try resetting it (check the manual to find out how to do this). Make sure it's updated with the latest drivers, which are available from the manufacturer's website.
Error: 0x000000D1 error.
Remedy: This can happen when you try to transfer large files over a USB connection in Windows XP. You can fix it by installing Service Pack 1 for Windows XP (available free of charge from the Microsoft XP website) and carrying on as normal.
WINDOWS SOFTWARE-RELATED ERRORS
Error: This program is not responding.
Remedy: This occurs when you try to close a program that has stopped talking to Windows. It may indicate that a program has crashed, or it may be that it's simply working through a complex task. If the hard disk status light on the front of the PC is flickering, click on Cancel and wait until it stops. If this doesn't work, try closing the program again and selecting End Now when this message reappears.
Error: An exception 0E has occurred at ?
Remedy: This means that a program has tried to use a section of the computer's memory that it is not allowed to access. Close the message and save your work elsewhere using the Save As? command if you can, otherwise close the software and reopen it.
Error: STOP: 0x00000077 or KERNEL _STACK_INPAGE_ERROR (XP).
Remedy: Most of the time, this means that your computer's virtual memory file is corrupted. Simply restart the computer and Windows will run its automatic checking program to determine what happened. It's also possible that a component in the computer has come loose. Open up the case and check that all of the memory modules and expansion cards are firmly seated in their sockets. Finally, it's possible that a virus is causing this, so run a full scan with an up-to-date virus scanner. There are several available to download here.
Error: Another copy of the application is already running.
Remedy: You cannot run two copies of certain applications at the same time. Try looking in the Windows Task Manager; press and hold down the Ctrl and Alt keys on the keyboard and press Delete, then select Task Manager and click the Processes tab. If the program is listed, close it by right-clicking on it and selecting End Process. Now try opening the program again.
Error: There was an internal error and one of the windows you were using has been closed. It is recommended that you save your work and close all programs, and then restart your computer.
Remedy: This is another Windows 2000 and XP error message. If you can save your work, do so, then before rebooting press Ctrl+Alt+Del and select Task Manager. Go to the Performance tab and look at the two graphs. If both are consistently very high, go to the Processes tab and make a note of which ones are using the most processing power (the highest numbers in the CPU column). If the error occurs again, try the same process and if the same application is causing a problem, you might need to upgrade or reinstall it. Check the software developer's website for more information.
Error: The system is low on virtual memory. Windows is increasing the size of your virtual memory paging file.
Remedy: This message appears in Windows 2000 and XP. The virtual memory paging file is a section of the hard disk that Windows uses for temporary storage. When it gets full it has to be expanded, which can take a couple of minutes. While it's going on, you should save and pause your work. If this message keeps reappearing, try restarting the computer.
Error: This application requires the Windows Installer to run.
Remedy: The program you want to run has not been installed correctly. This is usually fixed by uninstalling the application using the Add/Remove Programs option in the Control Panel and then reinstalling it from the original CD or disk. If the application is not listed in Add/Remove Programs, try reinstalling it without uninstalling it first.
Error: An error has occurred in your program. To keep working anyway, click Ignore and save your work to a new file. To quit this program, click Close.
Remedy: You may be able to keep working on your file but you should save it with another name, because the original might have become corrupt.
Error: Missing shortcut.
Remedy: The program or file you are trying to open has been moved from its original location. You can let Windows try to find the file on its own but, if you know where it is, click on Browse to choose the correct location of the program file on the hard disk. You can try finding it by clicking on Start and then Search (or Find Files or Folders in Windows 98) and entering a word from the application's name. It may be that the application has been uninstalled, in which case you should reinstall it, or a file has been deleted, or you are using an old shortcut, in which case you should be able to find a newer shortcut in the Start menu.
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