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Software Crash Recovery and Prevention

  Software Crashes - How To Recover from and
                     Prevent Software Crashes

Most of us accumulate a lot of software on our computers. It's good to know how to take care of our PCs and prepare for the possibility of a Computer Crash

Here are basic definitions of the terms we'll discuss in this article:

1. Crash - When a program or your entire computer stops working and you cannot move the mouse or use the keyboard, and the screen is frozen.

2. Reboot - When you restart your computer after a crash.

3. Control Panel - A feature of Windows that will give you access to
system utilities and settings.

           What should you do first if your computer crashes?

Try to STOP and do nothing for a few minutes. Why? The computer is probably trying to do your commands and might just need to take a little more time to finish them. Don't start to punch a bunch more keys. This could just add to the computer's problems, maybe even forcing it to crash.

Check the keyboard connections to make sure the pins are not bent. Is there a jammed key on the keyboard? Maybe some liquid was spilled into the keyboard. Check the computer connections as well.

Also, the mouse may just be dirty and need the inner ball that rolls cleaned with soapy water. Dry it and remove any dust in the mouse body itself and replace the mouse roller ball.

If you are using an optical mouse, and the cursor stops dead, the battery may be too weak to get the signal to your computer. Replace it anyway.

Usually when you have a crash the hardware is OK and the software caused the problem. A good way to try to recover from a problem is to press the Ctrl + Alt + Delete keys simultaneously. The Windows Task manager dialog box will appear.

This box will show you all the programs that are currently running. Note that at least one will have a non-responsive indication. (program not responding)

Try clicking on the program listed and click END TASK. Close the dialog box and see if your computer is working again. Say a prayer that it is!

If it does not respond, then try the dialog box again to see if there is another program
causing trouble and "End Task" on it as well.

This should solve about 98% of your computer crashes. If your computer is not responding with all this, you can try rebooting. Switching off the entire power is the last resort and should not be done unless everything else has not worked.

Here are some maintenance suggestions that will help prevent computer crashes

Check first that you have room on your hard drive. Windows needs a lot of space and will not work if you do not keep the total usage down. Never go over 70% usage of your total hard drive space.

To check usage, go to Start, right click on My Computer, then click on your hard drive letter (usually 'C') and then Properties and see what amount of space is available.

You may need to delete or move to another hard drive or a CD any large audio or video files and remove software programs that you do not use. Do that by choosing "Add or Remove Programs" icon from the Control Panel from Start Menu. You'll probably be surprised at how many programs you have and how seldom some of them are actually used.

Next - make sure you have enough Memory or RAM (Random Access Memory). You can help out your computer by not opening too many programs at once if your RAM is low.

To find out how much RAM your computer has, select Control Panel from the Start Menu, Double Click System Tools, and then open the System Information tab.

The total and available memory is listed towards the bottom of the right panel when you click on System Summary. Software that uses the most RAM are those that include a lot of graphics, video or sound capabilities. You can keep these to a minimum on your hard drive by burning to a CD and allowing your hard drive space to be saved.

Another quick tip is to back up your hard drive regularly. There are notes on how to do this online and it is very important and should be done consistently. This way you will not lose a lot of work should you have to turn off power or restart your computer due to a crash.

Losing work is never fun and often, data recovery efforts can be avoided by doing a little preventive maintenance.

                                                                          .. Richard Rossbauer
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