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Issue #269: September 16, 2012

Q: I’m an old guy, and not too bright on these computers. I hope you can help me.  Whenever I try to get on certain websites I get a pop-up with the following: Top Banner = Microsoft Visual C++ RUNTIME LIBRARY, then in the box below Program C:\ PROGRAM FILES\INTERNET EXP\ ixplore.ex.  Sir, I have in the past used this site as well as others with no problems, but now, I have to back out of it after 3 attempts, and it’s really starting to get old.  I’ve tried to type in the info and search for an answer, but am afraid of following directions from the “net”.  I had a problem a few years ago and it cost me a new computer! So PLEASE, pretty please! And I will deliver a very good bottle of Bourbon for an answer – assuming, of course, that you do wish to imbibe??!

Joe D.
Niceville, Florida

A: Wow, Joe, who could possibly resist an offer like that?  I don’t usually accept bribes, much less imbibes, but after a quick check with Geek Central’s Legal Department, they assure me I would incur no liability should I accept your gracious offer.  So, let’s take it from the top.  First, I’ll explain why I think you haven’t had any luck finding a solution, and then I’ll try and explain what’s wrong, and finally, how you can fix it.

The reason your searches have come up empty is probably because you searched using the same text that you sent me, which is missing a few letters.  See my website for an example of the dialog we’re discussing here, but  Here is an example of the dialog:

Example of C++ Runtime Error Dialog

As you can see, the text in the box actually says “Runtime Error!  Program: C:\Program Files\Internet Explorer\iexplore.exe” (the drive letter may vary), then a blank line, followed by “This application has requested the Runtime to terminate it in an unusual way.  Please contact the application’s support team for more information.”  This box is telling you several things.  The first part of the message is simply “Runtime Error!” which really tells you nothing at all (thanks, Bill!).  The next part tells you the executable file (program) that was running was “iexplore.exe” which is Internet Explorer.  The box’s title bar tells you that the error was in the Visual C++ Runtime Library, which you probably don’t really care about, or need to know, but it does prove that Microsoft uses its own software development tools to create its products.  The bottom part holds some important information, which I’ll discuss below, although that part about contacting the application’s support team is another “thanks, Bill!” issue, since by and large, you have no idea who is this mysterious “support team”.

So, what’s a “Runtime Error”?  Well, the non-geeky answer is that it is a problem that stops a program from running correctly.  They usually halt a program in its tracks, stopping it from doing whatever it was doing.  This can cause you to lose data if a file has not been saved, or, if the error occurs in the middle of saving a file, it can cause errors in the file, making in unusable.  Technically speaking, unless you’re a software developer who is compiling, linking and running a program in a test environment, all errors are “runtime errors” which is why that part of the message is so useless.  The only saving grace is that part at the bottom, which does offer a bit of explanation of what happened, but not enough that you’d know what to do to stop it from happening again.  I guess that’s where I come in.  As your Geek, I know enough to tell you that IE or something running under IE (a toolbar, plug-in, or helper object) attempted to do something that Windows didn’t like, so Windows halted the operation, which, in-turn the program didn’t like.  This stand-off caused a program crash, which generated the dialog box you received.  It is almost a certainty that this problem is being caused by either an incorrect setting in Internet Explorer, or by your system not having the latest version, patches, and security updates for Internet Explorer.  I can’t tell from your e-mail which version of IE you’re running, but you should be running IE9.  You can get the latest patches and updates from within IE itself by dropping down the “Tools” menu and selecting “Windows Update”.  If that doesn’t fix your problem, you might want to try resetting Internet Explorer to its default settings.  For that, I’m going to refer you to a Microsoft Support article that you can find at Good luck!

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