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Troubleshooting GPFs in Windows

by Bob Wright

Tips for Troubleshooting GPFs in Windows

You may encounter a variety of errors if your computer is not optimally configured. In addition to this Tech Note, your Windows documentation and a Windows troubleshooting guide can be great sources of information for setting up the optimal authoring environment.

Use this TechNote as a troubleshooting reference when unexpected errors occur in Windows.

What a General Protection Fault is?
What to do after a General Protection Fault?
Troubleshooting common Windows issues

What a General Protection Fault is

A General Protection Fault (GPF) typically occurs when the active application, let's call it MYPROGRAM, reads or writes to a section of memory that is unavailable at that time. Windows holds all of the active applications in one large memory partition. When an application steps out of its allotted area of memory, Windows might issue a GPF message. Windows users need to know how to deal with these errors. GPFs can vary in degree of severity. You will typically get an error mesage similiar to this:

an error has occured in your application.
If you choose to ignore, you should save your work in a new file. If you choose Close, your application will terminate.

Close Ignore

You might be able to choose Ignore and continue working, if the memory indiscretion is minor. If the application wrote to an area of memory that Windows owns or another application was using, you might have a more serious problem.

What to do after a General Protection Fault


Write down the entire error GPF message (you'll need this later).
. Note exactly what you were doing when you got the error message.
. Quit all open applications.
. Save any open files with new names.
. Quit Windows.
. Restart the computer and stay in DOS before reentering Windows.
. Run SCANDISK from DOS to fix any errors.
. Launch Windows again and begin troubleshooting.

Each word of a General Protection Fault error message
is important and can lead you directly to the solution
to the problem.

An error has occurred in your application.
MYProgram caused a GPF in
module GDI.EXE at

Explaination of the GPF message:

This is usually the name of the application running. This can be EXPLORER.EXE, WINWORD.EXE, CONTROL.EXE, or any application.
> Module GDI.EXE/USER32.EXE:
The module where the error occurred is the usually the key to solving the General Protection Fault. GDI stands for Graphic Display Interface. If you receive this error, set up the Microsoft VGA video card drivers, and try to recreate it.
> OO5B:0CD2
This is an example memory address. This is the place in memory where the application found conflict. It is possible to trace the different places in memory that the error takes place, but understanding which application and which module the error occurred in can usually solve the problem.

Troubleshooting common Windows issues

The important thing is that some sort of memory violation has occurred. Knowing what was happening when the error occurred and the complete error message will help. Fine tuning your Windows computer with the latest drivers might be the most important step..

"MYPROGRAM.EXE caused a GPF in module
MYPROGRAM.EXE at memory location

This is the most generic error you could receive. Windows is telling you that there is a memory conflict on that computer. You should test under VGA first, then look through the other common errors in this list.

"MYPROGRAM.EXE caused a GPF in module
ADRIVER.DRV at memory location

Windows is giving you a clear sign here that the particular driver in the error message was loading or trying to run when the conflict occurred. If it is a display driver, select a different one and restart Windows. If it is different type of driver, you may need to reinstall it. Search for that driver in your Windows directory and reinstall it or application that uses it.


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