When programming, we use a language to speak to the computer. That language has syntax. If the rules of the syntax are broken, then the compiler complains and offers the term syntax error. In the same vein, all of the programming code that is written must be translated and compiled into something the computer can understand. If there are errors in that process the compiler complains and throws a compiler error. These errors are given types, numbers, and brief English explanations. They offer the engineer a way to debug their programs in an orderly fashion.
Lastly as a program is running or during its runtime it may encounter problems during execution. When a problem arises that the software cannot resolve then it throws a runtime error, which means, while I was running I had a problem I could not resolve. The software, not the operating system gives the error. Through a self-monitoring mechanism called a trap, the software diagnoses itself, realizes it cannot go on, and traps to runtime error. There are multiple reasons why you will see a runtime error, the following are just a few examples.
- Poor Programming - A runtime error can be caused by poor programming practices. If the engineer loads his software with memory leaks, then you can receive multiple runtime errors within a user session. There is no way to fix this problem since it lies in the software.
- Other software - If there is a program running on your computer that has been written poorly, it can affect other programs. In a Windows environment many things are shared, and if a rogue application steps into your arena there is a possibility for a runtime error to occur. In this case, you can shut down all other applications and then see if your software still has a runtime error.
- Aging or damaged hardware - To a large degree software depends on the workability of peripherals in your computer. If you have an older computer, your hard drives are older than two years, you have recently had an electrical storm, of if your air cooling unit is out, degradation in service can occur. Any of these events can cause your software to throw a runtime error.
- Malicious Virus or Ad Ware - These programs run in the back ground undetected and can cause a mountain of damage. They are not the leading cause of a runtime error, but can still lead to one. It is imperative that you scan your system with some type of antivirus software daily.
These are only a few of the causes for runtime errors but a rule of thumb is this. For new software that has just been installed, it could be the software itself. For software that has been running before check your hardware and scan for viruses. I hope this helps you the next time you receive a runtime error.