How to Fix Application Crashes and Errors on a Computer

By Aaron Parson

Computer programs can crash or behave unusually for a multitude of reasons, most often due to an error in the program, your operating system or your drivers. You don't need to worry about a single crash if the program works the next time you use it, but if the same problem happens over and over, try updating your software or undoing any recent changes to your system.

Software Updates

Many application crashes and glitches occur due to errors in the software's code. Once program developers discover an error, they often release a patch that solves the problem. If your application does not have a built-in updater, visit the developer's website and check the support section for an update. With many free programs downloaded from the Internet, you'll need to download the program over again and replace your old copy, rather than run an updater.

System Updates

Even in cases where only a specific application crashes or malfunctions, updating your operating system can solve the problem. Microsoft regularly releases compatibility updates through Windows Update. Because these updates assist with specific applications, they won't always install automatically -- check the "Optional" tab after searching for updates in the Windows Update Control Panel. To see which specific programs an update fixes, select it and click "More Information."

Driver Updates

Drivers control the operation of the hardware in your computer. Outdated drivers -- in particular video drivers -- can cause programs to crash, run poorly or have graphical errors. Windows Update offers driver updates for some products; you can also usually download drivers manually from hardware manufacturers' websites. In the case of video drivers, most manufacturers don't build their own drivers, so check the websites for Nvidia or AMD, depending on the brand of your video card. If you don't have a discrete video card, visit Intel's website for new graphics drivers.

Rolling Back

Even though updates usually solve problems, software patches can also introduce new bugs. If a program began crashing after you updated it -- or even after updating another program -- try reinstalling the older version that worked properly. If you can't find a copy of the old version, use System Restore to revert your system to an earlier date. This won't delete your documents, but it will affect all programs, system updates and drivers you've installed or removed. If you've recently added add-ons or plugins to the crashing program, try removing them before resorting to reverting the entire application.

Checking the Event Log

Windows keeps a log of every application crash. This technical information doesn't provide a direct solution, but it can help you when searching online for specific answers, or if you want to report a bug to a developer. Search for "Event Viewer" on the Start screen or Start menu. In the viewer, open "Windows Logs" and click "Application." Look for entries marked "Error" or "Warning" to find the crash information.