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When Windows or one of its applications is seriously malfunctioning, the OS typically halts and displays an error message. It is usually a memory problem when you have General Protection Faults (GPFs) or invalid page faults. They are caused by the operating system trying to store information in a memory location that is already in use. The operating system should be able to control this operation but memory problems happen in many ways, including overheating of the computer or a power fluctuation. Rebooting the computer should bring the system back up normally. If the computer is warm then the hardware, especially the fans, should be checked. Most modern motherboards sound warning beeps if there is overheating and/or the system closes down.

Other error messages you may see when the system crashes are:

  • access violation
  • exception error
  • illegal operation
  • segment load failure
  • violation of system integrity.

If these persist then you should run a hardware diagnostic tool which will check all the devices on your computer for errors. If any errors are found then the corresponding device should be replaced or repaired.

If you continue to use the computer that is crashing, it will, eventually, corrupt the system's operating system, applications or your data. This may also happen if you do not shut down a system properly; Windows will automatically run Scandisk on any drives that were in use at the time and may have problems. Any corruption will be automatically reported and fixed.

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