Computers use hardware, software, and network components that will inevitably fail. An error message is a visual message that describes a failure in a computer application or device. Typically, a message will give the user adequate information to determine how to resolve the problem.
A computer hardware error is an error to a physical device within a computer system. When a hardware device encounters a failure condition, an error message is generated to the computer application. This message typically includes the hardware device name, the issue, and the time of the failure.
All computer operating systems have a form of error log. An error log is a log file that tracks errors for a computer system. This log file includes a detail message for each warning and error in the operating system.
Many computer systems are connected to communication networks. These networks enable the sharing of data and resources. When a computer network encounters an unexpected issue, an error message is created. A typical network error message will include the software function attempted with the general network error encountered.
Best-practice software development includes proper management of the software errors. This process typically requires the detailed design and coding of error modules within the software application. These modules are the delivery mechanisms for the error message to the user or administrator of the application.
Enterprise software management includes support and monitoring of computer applications within the organization. Software monitoring tools are responsible for monitoring error messages for these applications. When an error is detected the monitoring tool can execute escalation procedures to include pager notification and system cycling.
A computer operating system is the heart of a computer system. The operating system manages the interaction between software and hardware components of the entire system. When a hardware component is incompatible with a software component an error message is displayed to the user.
"The blue screen of death" is the term used to describe the error message that is generated when an operating system has a critical error that requires an immediate shut down. This term is often used for error that is encountered with the Microsoft® Windows™ operating system. When this error is encountered the information presented is more for diagnostic purposes, which is difficult for most users to understand.
In computer software development it is important to create clear error messages. The message should explain the reason for the error and possible solutions. Typically these errors are simultaneously written to a computer screen and operating system log file.