Updated: 02/04/2024 by Computer Hope

A bug is a general term describing any unexpected hardware or software problem. For example, Grace Hopper logged and taped a moth bug in a log book that caused issues with the Mark II. The bug, which is shown below, was discovered in one of its components. Grace Hopper's moth is often considered the first use of the term bug. However, there are other earlier accounts of the term bug describing a problem with electrical circuits and hardware.

Dead moth taped to a piece of paper in a log book containing notes for the Mark II computer

How is a bug fixed?

As complex as computers, hardware, and computer software are today, there is no such thing as bug-free software or hardware. When bugs are discovered, software bugs are fixed by running software patches, and resolvable hardware bugs are fixed with firmware updates and drivers. In the case of more serious hardware bugs, the resolution may be to replace the device.

The time it takes to resolve a bug depends on its complexity, the number of developers, and how much time they have. If you believe you've found a bug in a program or device, reporting the bug to the manufacturer is the best way to resolve the bug.

What is a bug report?

When a bug is discovered that is not fixed by a patch or update, it is reported. A bug report is an e-mail, entry in a bug database, or repository note explaining the bug being encountered. Good bug reports should include the operating system and version, the version of the program causing the bug, how to duplicate the problem, and any error logs generated.

What is the difference between an error and a bug?

An error is a message shown to the user of a program to let them know something went wrong. A bug is a problem in the code that caused the error. See our error page for a full explanation and examples of computer errors.

Why doesn't a company fix the bug I'm encountering

To fix any software or hardware bug requires the company to hire a programmer capable of locating and correcting the code causing the bug. The following list is why a company may not fix a bug or delay its fix.

  • The bug only affects a small percentage of people and is a low-priority bug.
  • The bug cannot be replicated or located.
  • The fix for the bug will be released in a future version of the product.
  • The product was by one person or a small team that doesn't have the resources needed to fix it.
  • The fix for the bug is too complicated or would need too many resources to fix it.
  • The product is EOL (end-of-life) or no longer supported.
  • The company is no longer in business.

What is buggy?

The term "buggy" describes any software or service with several bugs.

Is a bug a virus?

No. A computer virus is software designed to be annoying or destructive. However, a bug is only a mistake in the code. For further information about viruses, see our virus term page.

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