Did Your Computer Crash Again?
If your like many people, a computer crash can put you in a vulnerable position. Do you know why computers crash?
Reviewing an article by scientificamerican.com, “Explanations Behind a Computer Crash”
Computers crash because of errors in the operating system (OS), compatibility errors from installed software, and/or errors in the computers hardware. Software and OS errors are more common and are usually fixed without difficulty. When a hardware error happens it can be costly and harder to diagnose.
A variety of hardware components must function correctly in order for a computer to work. Components like the Wifi chip, Bluetooth chip, processor, USB, RAM, ROM, etc. These components, like many things, age over time and can develop faults. Unfortunately, these faults are often transient, and can be hard to diagnose because they are not consistent. The system power supply can fail in this manner as well. Normally a computer’s power supply converts alternating current to clean direct current. If it starts to fail, the computer can crash when the power supply generates dirty power. The random access memory (RAM is where the computer puts information from the hard drive for faster access) can also fail in an intermittent way, particularly if it gets hot. The values stored in RAM can get corrupt and be unstable causing random system crashes. The central processing unit (CPU) can also be the source of crashes due to excessive heat. The (often loud) fans on most common computers are there to prevent this type of crash. The fans that bring cooling air into the case also carry dirt and dust inside. This dirt can accumulate and cause intermittent short circuits as the dirt blows around. Fortunately, compressed air or a vacuum cleaner can easily get rid of this buildup. Hardware problems that cause crashes are trickier to identify and require expensive testing equipment, sequential replacement of components, and/or a technician that has seen it all to quickly diagnosis the problem.
More permanent faults happen with errors on a computer’s hard drive disks or platters. Each disk stores information in units named sectors. Most new disks come with bad sectors that occur in the manufacturing process and are marked at the factory. Makers expect this and include ample additional sectors to replace the defective ones. When sectors can go bad after use, they lose the information stored on them. If these sectors happen to hold system information, they can cause a crash. Worse, a disk can fail completely when the computer gets jarred and the head that reads information makes contact with the disk surface. This may cause all data on the disk to be lost. If your hard drive has bad sectors and is causing instability, the best course of action is to make sure your data is backed up and replace the drive.
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