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Chapter 5. Fixing Computer Problems > Decoding Error Messages

Decoding Error Messages

Wouldn’t it be convenient if, whenever you ran into a problem, Windows could deliver a simple, straightforward explanation of what’s wrong? Unfortunately, it might be decades before computers are that smart. In the meantime, we’ll have to make do with error messages that vary wildly in terms of helpfulness. Some of these messages are lucid and direct. Others might as well be written in Sanskrit. Even if you can’t make sense of the message right away, though, you might still be able to glean valuable information from it.

What to Do When You See an Error Message

When Windows pops up an error message, your first instinct is to click OK and move it out of the way so you can get back to work. Resist that temptation, if at all possible. The exact wording of an error message can be crucial when it comes to solving the underlying problem that produced the error condition! Before you make the message vanish, write down the details. This is especially important in the case of errors that include detailed technical information.


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