What Is a Known Error?

Mary McMahon

A known error is an issue with a software program that has a known cause. The developer may have a temporary fix in place to address the matter and can be in the process of completing a more permanent fix. Such fixes may take some time to implement, as software developers do not reprogram every single time they find and fix a minor problem. Known errors are usually minor nuisances, and their priority may change in response to user reports.

Woman doing a handstand with a computer
Woman doing a handstand with a computer

With a known error, the developer has reviewed error reports generated by users and the program's automatic reporting system, and successfully located the origin of the error. It might be a coding mistake, an unexpected use of the system that it wasn't designed to handle, or some other problem. With this information in mind, the developer can make a workaround to fix the problem and can also develop a permanent fix.

Software users can download periodic patch updates that address known errors, add features, and fix security holes. Patches are usually released on a regular schedule, and a known error may remain a problem until the company has time to code a fix and release it in a patch. This may take as little as a week if developers fix and address it right in time for a new update, or it may take months. In future versions of the software, the known error should be eliminated.

Manufacturers maintain a known error database for their internal use. When they receive user reports, they can check the reports against the database to see if the issue is a known error, a new problem, or an error they have not yet been able to attribute to a specific cause. If reports for a known error start flooding in, the company may choose to move it up on the patch schedule to get a fix out as soon as possible. Likewise if errors start to conflict or appear to be causing a more serious problem, like data loss. Customer satisfaction is very important, and the company wants to avoid causing frustration and irritation with known errors.

Software releases may be described as free of known errors, indicating that the company has subjected them to testing and addressed any errors that were uncovered. This does not necessarily mean they are perfect, as it is impossible to work out all software bugs. A user may have an operating system the company didn't use in testing, or could use the program in an unexpected way, and might trigger an error as a result. Submitting error reports can help companies fix such problems more quickly, as they provide valuable information about how and when an error occurred.

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