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[ The PC Guide | Troubleshooting and Repair Guide | The Troubleshooting Expert | Troubleshooting Specific Components | Troubleshooting Operating Systems and Applications ]

I have a particular software application that is frequently crashing or causing problems

Explanation: You are experiencing problems trying to use a specific application on your PC. You have various problems such as general protection faults or invalid operation errors being reported while using a specific program. When using other programs the errors are not being seen. If errors are being seen in many different programs, look here instead.

Diagnosis: This is, of course, usually an indication of a problem with that application. Many programs, even popular ones, have a lot of bugs and will crash easily, especially if used in a non-standard way. In some cases the program may crash only under some circumstances; determining what these are is important as you may find that there is in fact an underlying hardware or system issue that is causing the program to misbehave. A program that specifically works with a particular type of hardware for example may crash if that hardware is not responding as expected.


  • Try to isolate the problem to the specific application you suspect. In some cases a program may cause crashes because it is conflicting with another program that is running on the system, perhaps in the background. To whatever extent possible, shut down all other programs, servers, memory-resident utilities and other potential conflict sources. See if the problem goes away; if it does, you have a conflict on your hands.
  • If the program is one that works directly with hardware on the system, then you may have a resource conflict, configuration problem or hardware fault with that specific piece of hardware. For example, a disk utility crashing when analyzing a hard disk--it shouldn't happen, but if it does then the hard disk could certainly be at fault. In this case, try to troubleshoot the hardware, especially if you are seeing other "misbehavior" associated with the device.
  • Try setting the color depth on your video card to 256-color mode. Some software does not work well when you are running the PC in a more advanced color depth video mode, although this isn't too common.
  • Look at the troubleshooting suggestions in this section on system instability. Even if the problem is happening with only one application, it could be a hardware problem. Some applications may exercise the hardware more than others or may be more sensitive to flaky hardware.
  • Some software is just buggy. I have some applications that I just will not use because they frequently crash the system. You may want to check the technical support options that come with the software for possible troubleshooting ideas, or check their web page for a patch or upgrade to fix the problems. In other cases, you may have to live with the problem.

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