What is a Crash to Desktop?

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  • Written By: Daniel Liden
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 20 October 2019
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A crash to desktop, or CTD, occurs when the application running on one's computer crashes and returns the user to the computer's desktop. This type of error occurs commonly during computer games, which can be very taxing on a computer's systems. A game may, for example, crash to desktop if the computer's video card is not capable of displaying the game's graphics. This is commonly the case as modern games become more and more graphically demanding. In other cases, a software error may be to blame, particularly if the software being used is incompatible with the user's operating system.

It can be very difficult to diagnose a crash to desktop error, as such errors often do not offer any indication of why, exactly, the error occurred. This can be a very frustrating experience, particularly for those with little experience with computer maintenance and troubleshooting. Some programs, however, do have error-reporting components that will appear in a separate window after the program experiences a crash to desktop error. The error report tends to explain the general nature of the problem and, in some cases, how to fix the error if a fix is possible. In other cases, the operating system may detect that a program has crashed and may offer an error report including suggestions on fixing the problem.


When no error report is available, determining the cause of a crash to desktop error can be very difficult. Sometimes a trial-and-error approach to troubleshooting may be the best approach to finding a fix to the problem. Possible fixes involve searching the Internet for a patch or big fix for the program in question or adjusting the settings on the program. One can often prevent games from crashing, for example, by lowering the game's graphical settings. This will make the game less graphically appealing, but it will run more smoothly and be less likely to crash to desktop.

If a crash to desktop error affects only one or two programs, it is likely the fault of the program or of some problem of compatibility. If many programs regularly crash to desktop, however, there is likely a deeper problem in the computer's hardware. Confident computer users can check their hard drives and memory for errors, as these components are commonly responsible for such problems. Otherwise, it may be necessary to seek professional assistance, as it can be very easy to make the problem worse by messing with hardware with which one is unfamiliar.


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