What's actually happening when your computer says a program has stopped responding?

We’ve all seen something like this, probably far more often than we’d like. But these messages don’t pop up simply to annoy you. This is your computer’s built-in ‘hanging program detector’.

Program stopped responding

What this detector is doing is saying to you, “Hey, I’m trying to talk to this program of yours and it’s just giving me a blank stare. What do you want me to do about it?”

Just killing the program is risky because you might lose important information. Rather than get all trigger-happy, your computer is throwing the decision up to you. Should the program be allowed to continue in the hope that it will respond again? Or are you convinced that the program is irreversibly frozen and needs putting out of its misery?

It’s your call.

There’s actually a lot more happening behind the scenes when a computer freezes. Do you want to learn more? Then read my article What happens when a computer freezes?.

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