ARCHIVED: What is a General Protection Fault?

This content has been archived, and is no longer maintained by Indiana University. Resources linked from this page may no longer be available or reliable.

A General Protection Fault (GPF) is a Windows system error message. A GPF is not an error within an application, but an error in the Windows operating system itself.

A GPF typically occurs when the active application is reading or writing to a section of RAM that is unavailable at that time. In Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP, well-written 32-bit applications are allocated a protected memory area, reducing GPFs. In Windows 3.x, all the active applications are held in one large memory partition.

GPFs can vary in degree of severity. Sometimes the application can recover, but sometimes the whole system needs to be restarted. If you get GPFs only infrequently, things are probably fine.

The following tips may minimize the number of GPFs you get:

  • Try to keep the number of open applications to a minimum. If you have an application open but are not using it, close it.
  • If you seem to get GPFs more often when you use a particular application, try using that application without any other applications open. If you must have other applications open, use as few as possible.
  • Periodically restart Windows.
  • Make sure you have the latest device drivers, especially video drivers, installed on your computer. For more, see ARCHIVED: Where can I find driver updates for my Windows computer?

This is document abcu in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 10:49:06.

Contact us

For help or to comment, email the UITS Support Center.