What Are Fatal Exception Errors

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315854 Windows 98 and Windows Me Error Message Resource Center

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When you attempt to shut down your computer, start Windows, or start a program in Windows, you may encounter error messages that are similar to:
A fatal exception
XY has occurred at
Fatal exception errors are codes that are returned by a program in the following cases:
  • Access to an illegal instruction has been encountered
  • Invalid data or code has been accessed
  • The privilege level of an operation is invalid
When any of these cases occurs, the processor returns an exception to the operating system, which in turn is handled as a fatal exception error. In many cases the exception is non-recoverable and the system must either be restarted or shut down, depending upon the severity of the error.

In the sample error message that is listed above,
XY represents the actual processor exception from 00 to 0F. (Note that the "h" that is listed after the 0E, 0F, and so on, in the explanations below is frequently omitted from the error message.) The
xxxx:xxxxxxxx value represents the enhanced instruction pointer to the code segment; the 32-bit address is the actual address where the exception occurred.

Windows does not cause these errors, but has the exception-handling routine for that particular processor exception, which displays the error message.

NOTE: This article is primarily for informational use. Click the following link to go to the "Troubleshooting Fatal Exception Errors" section of this article:

More Information

Processor Exceptions and Their Definitions

00: Divide Fault

The processor returns this exception when it encounters a divide fault. A divide fault occurs if division by zero is attempted or if the result of the operation does not fit in the destination operand.

02: NMI Interrupt

Interrupt 2 is reserved for the hardware Non-Maskable-Interrupt condition. No exceptions trap through interrupt 2.

04: Overflow Trap

The overflow trap occurs after an INTO instruction has executed and the 0F bit is set to 1.

05: Bounds Check Fault

The BOUND instruction compares the array index with an upper and lower bound. If the index is out of range, then the processor traps to interrupt 05.

06: Invalid Opcode Fault

This error is returned if any one of the following conditions exists:
  • The processor tries to decode a bit pattern that does not correspond to any legal computer instruction.
  • The processor attempts to execute an instruction that contains invalid operands.
  • The processor attempts to execute a protected-mode instruction while running in virtual 8086 mode.
  • The processor tries to execute a LOCK prefix with an instruction that cannot be locked.

07: Coprocessor Not Available Fault

This error occurs if the computer does not have a math coprocessor and the EM bit of register CR0 is set indicating that Numeric Data Processor emulation is being used. Each time a floating point operation is executed, an interrupt 07 occurs.

This error also occurs when a math coprocessor is used and a task switch is executed. Interrupt 07 tells the processor that the current state of the coprocessor needs to be saved so that it can be used by another task.

08: Double Fault

Processing an exception sometimes triggers a second exception. In the event that this occurs, the processor will issue a interrupt 08 for a double fault.

09: Coprocessor Segment Overrun

This error occurs when a floating point instruction causes a memory access that runs beyond the end of the segment. If the starting address of the floating point operand is outside the segment, then a General Protection Fault occurs (interrupt 0D).

10 (0Ah): Invalid Task State Segment Fault

Because the Task State Segment contains a number of descriptors, any number of conditions can cause exception 0A. Typically, the processor can gather enough information from the Task State Segment to issue another fault pointing to the actual problem. See Microsoft's Programming the 80386/80486 Guide for more information.

11 (0Bh): Not Present Fault

The Not present interrupt allows the operating system to implement virtual memory through the segmentation mechanism. When a segment is marked as "not present," the segment is swapped out to disk. The interrupt 0B fault is triggered when an application needs access to the segment.

12 (0Ch): Stack Fault

A Stack Fault occurs with error code 0 if an instruction refers to memory beyond the limit of the stack segment. If the operating system supports expand-down segments, increasing the size of the stack should alleviate the problem. Loading the Stack Segment with invalid descriptors will result in a general protection fault.

13 (0Dh): General Protection Fault

Any condition that is not covered by any of the other processor exceptions will result in a general protection fault. The exception indicates that this program has been corrupted in memory, usually resulting in immediate termination of the program.

14 (0Eh): Page Fault

The Page Fault interrupt allows the operating system to implement virtual memory on a demand-paged basis. An interrupt 14 usually is issued when an access to a page directory entry or page table with the present bit set to 0 (Not present) occurs. The operating system makes the page present (usually retrieves the page from virtual memory) and re-issues the faulting instruction, which then can access the segment. A page fault also occurs when a paging protection rule is violated (when the retrieve fails, or data retrieved is invalid, or the code that issued the fault broke the protection rule for the processor). In these cases the operating system takes over for the appropriate action.

16 (10h): Coprocessor Error Fault

This interrupt occurs when an unmasked floating-point exception has signaled a previous instruction. (Because the 80386 does not have access to the Floating Point unit, it checks the ERROR\ pin to test for this condition.) This is also triggered by a WAIT instruction if the Emulate Math Coprocessor bit at CR0 is set.

17 (11h): Alignment Check Fault

This interrupt is only used on the 80486 CPUs. An interrupt 17 is issued when code executing at ring privilege 3 attempts to access a word operand that is not on an even-address boundary, a double-word operand that is not divisible by four, or a long real or temp real whose address is not divisible by eight. Alignment checking is disabled when the CPU is first powered up and is only enabled in protected mode.

Troubleshooting Fatal Exception Errors

Clean Boot Your Computer

Because there are many conditions that can cause a fatal exception error, the first step in resolving the issue is to narrow the focus. To narrow the focus, try a "clean boot" of your computer.

Clean-boot troubleshooting refers to methods of reducing problems that may occur because of your computer's environment. Many problems occur because of conflicting drivers, terminate-and-stay-resident programs (TSRs), and other settings that are loaded when your computer starts.
For additional information about how to clean-boot your computer, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
192926 How to perform clean-boot troubleshooting for Windows 98

243039 How to perform a clean boot in Windows 95

Query The Microsoft Knowledge Base

To determine if the error message that you are receiving is documented in the Microsoft Knowledge Base, search the Microsoft Knowledge Base at:
242450 How to query the Microsoft Knowledge Base using keywords

Articles About Fatal Exception Error Messages

For additional information about fatal exception error messages, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
133440 Error Message: This program has caused a fatal exception 0D at 00457:000040B1 and will be terminated

192803 Fatal exception 0D using ATI All-in-Wonder Pro Video adapter

175211 Fatal exception error when opening or closing Control Panel

171195 Fatal exception error suspending and resuming with MSDLC32

187214 Err msg: a fatal exception 0E has occurred at 0028:C02A0201...

190123 Error message: a fatal exception 06 has occurred at...

252523 Fatal exception error message when attempting to connect to the Internet

189655 A fatal exception 0E Has occurred at 0028:<XXXXXXXX> error message

NOTE This list of articles is not comprehensive. If one of these articles does not address your issue, use the steps in the "Query the Microsoft Knowledge Base" section of this article to find more information.

Article ID: 150314 - Last Review: Sep 11, 2008 - Revision: 1