A runtime error is a software or hardware problem that prevents a program from working correctly. Runtime errors might cause you to lose information in the file you're working on, cause errors in the file (corrupt the file) so you can't work with it, or prevent you from using a feature. Unlike stop errors, runtime errors don't typically cause Windows or a program to stop working.

Runtime errors can occur if you are running two software programs that aren't compatible, if your computer has memory problems, or if the computer has been infected with malicious software. If a runtime error keeps occurring, follow these steps:

  1. Install the latest updates for Windows and for the program displaying the error. Note that the update for the program might be listed as an optional update on the Windows Update page.

    • Open Windows Update by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button. In the search box, type Update, and then, in the list of results, click Windows Update.

    For more information about Windows Update, see Install Windows updates in Windows 7.

  2. Check Action Center for a solution to the program displaying the error.

    When you have Windows Error Reporting turned on and a program stops working, a problem report is typically sent to Microsoft for more analysis. If a solution is available, or there are steps you can take to minimize the likelihood of the problem recurring, they'll be available in Action Center.

    • Open Action Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under System and Security, clicking Review your computer's status.

  3. Update and run your antivirus software. Windows doesn't come with antivirus software, but Action Center can often monitor the antivirus software that you or your computer manufacturer have installed.

    • Open Action Center by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, and then, under System and Security, clicking Review your computer's status.

  4. Make sure your computer has at least the minimum amount of random access memory (RAM) required to run the program that is displaying the error. Look for the program requirements online or in the packaging information. To learn more about computer memory, see View your computer information.