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Top 5 Common Error Messages on Computers and What they Mean

Error messages on a computer are a sign that there may be physical or logical damage within your hard drive.

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It is the dreaded text across a dark screen that people cannot click out of, the “error message.” At some point, you have probably experienced this tragedy when using a laptop or desktop computer, and unless you have a strong technical background, you weren’t sure how to fix it. In some cases, you can just shut down the device and restart it later to find that everything has resolved itself. 

While the message may have disappeared, that doesn’t mean your device isn’t damaged in some way. In this blog post, we are breaking down the top 5 error messages people receive on their computers, the damage the message can signify, and how people can react to them appropriately.

Common Error Messages

Blue Screen of Death–this error screen is the most infamous scene that can appear on your Windows computer screen. This occurs when the operating system encounters a “stop error,” which is caused by damaged or faulty hardware. In some cases, the computer will automatically restart as a form of defense. 

Response: A user can boot the computer in “safe mode” and then perform a clean boot process on the OS. Reinstallations will have to be made and drivers should be updated to avoid these errors in the future. Unfortunately, a BSOD error will cause data loss in any situation.

 

The application *insert name here* is not open anymore–this error message is seen on Mac computers, even in the newer models. It means that even if an app is open, it is currently unresponsive and cannot be used. Some users attribute this problem to the RAM on the device.

Response: A user can stop the app, exit out of it, and try to launch it again. This may work in some circumstances, but if the issue persists, it may be a sign of something more serious within your computer’s operation.

 

Boot Device Not Found–this message appears for Windows users because a boot device is required for the computer to start properly and the machine isn’t recognizing any device. The causes of this failure can be many things including the hard drive’s boot sector is corrupt, the BIOS was rearranged in a configuration change, or the hard drive itself may be damaged. 

Response: You can start by checking the BIOS settings and ensure the boot order is correct. If this is not the issue, you may need to replace your hard drive and install a new version of your Windows operating system. In this instance, you will have no access to the files on the hard drive that was removed and will need data recovery.

 

Unable to install application–this message appears when you attempt to install or download a new file or program. It means that there is not enough free space in the internal storage to accommodate the new data. 

Response: A user needs to free space by deleting files and folders that are no longer needed. In some cases, the OS may be missing updates and the applications are not installing. Optimizing your hard drive and updating the computer will help to solve this issue. Regular updating and a backup strategy will ensure that you do not experience unnecessary data loss.

 

SMART Hard Disk Error 301–this error indicates that the hard disk or solid-state drive has already experienced a failure, or will soon. This error message will appear when you turn on the device and can cause serious damage if not treated immediately. It could be the result of a broken controller chip, failed installation of an application, a power surge,  or malware. 

Response: Sometimes, a user can change the BIOS sequence or attempt a reboot, but if the drive has a physical error, then it is best not to run the computer to avoid further damage.

Have A Plan When Error Messages Appear

When tech users see an error message, their first instinct is usually to panic. Instead, be sure to write down the error code including all letters and numbers so you can look it up and understand what it means. An error usually means that data loss is occurring or has already occurred and can also signify that your hard drive has physical damage. 

When any of these error messages occur, you need to have a backup plan in the event the go-to “turn it on and off again” method falls through. Secure Data Recovery engineers have decades of experience working with all media and operating systems to retrieve data after a failure. We have a 96% success rate in recovering data from devices that have exhibited a variety of error codes. When your device fails, call our 24/7 customer service line at 1-800-388-1266 to save your critical files.

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