Fatal Error

What Does Fatal Error Mean?

A fatal error is an error that causes a program to terminate without any warning or saving its state. A fatal error, upon occurring, aborts the application currently running, and may cause the user to lose any unsaved changes made in the program. Exact reasons for fatal errors are very difficult to determine.

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A fatal error is also known as a fatal exception error.

Techopedia Explains Fatal Error

A fatal error occurs when an application tries to access invalid data or code, an illegal action is attempted or an infinity condition is met. The program shuts down and returns the user to the operating system. An operating system keeps a log of the information related to the error for the user to view the details and determine possible causes of the fatal error. Similarly, in some cases the image of a process (core dump) is also sometimes maintained by the OS in the event of a fatal error.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.