A COMPUTER GLITCH typically refers to a temporary problem experienced within a computing system. It could be the result of a small bug caused by a faulty design pattern, or an outlying case in which the system becomes impaired or behaves unexpectedly. Some glitches are difficult to detect and troubleshoot, making them even more difficult to prevent from reoccurring.
A computer glitch of this category is said to be able to “fix itself.” But a more appropriate description would suggest that it isn’t fatal enough to crash a program in its entirety (due to error-handling mechanisms in the code). Take, for example, a web browser in which a user might launch a new tab or window that suddenly freezes. It stops working altogether and restarts—loading each window the user previously had up. This glitch has resolved itself, allowing the user to resume their normal workflow.
Computer Glitch vs. Software Bug
A software bug will often reoccur under the same set of conditions until it is fixed. But a computer glitch varies, and in most cases, remains untraceable. For example, a small spike in voltage might cause a computer or device to behave erratically, only to resolve after a manual reboot. A further inspection of the device may be fruitless, especially if the incident was both a random and singular occurrence.
But if a glitch continues to repeat itself, it is usually indicative of a deeper, underlying problem. A device that has been affected by malware may experience a series of glitches that should be further investigated. Regardless of how random these glitches may be, they may cause firewalls and other security systems to fail, making way for skilled hackers to implant executable back doors.
Modern Examples of Computer Glitches
There are modern cases of system failures which rippled throughout large parts of the world. A few of them are highlighted in our article discussing whether Software Bugs are Consequential than Malware. Another example is 2003’s major power outage in the United States. This blackout affected up to 55 million people and was later determined to be the result of an alarm system bug in FirstEnergy Corp’s control room. The glitch was so obfuscated that it caused a temporary delayed response from top engineers.
As it turned out, the problem pointed to a number of outlying factors. The summer heat, coupled with FirstEnergy Corp’s high voltage system, caused its power lines to droop and make contact with nearby foliage. This, in turn, created a flashover (or electric arc). As servers and their backups began to fail, regions served by FirstEnergy Corp began experiencing power outages.
Two other glitches in the Tech world surfaced in 2009. One involved Google, in which its proprietary search engine seemed to believe that the entire Internet was malware. Complete details surrounding this incident were never revealed, but the problem was resolved in a timely manner. The other incident involved cell phone giant T-Mobile and its Sidekick service. Cloud technology was evolving during this time and Microsoft, which had already rolled out its cloud product, was providing this service to Sidekick users. Unfortunately, an unknown glitch affected the entire system and led to the deletion of all user data if a device were to lose power or have its battery taken out.
A computer glitch is difficult to detect and diagnose. Whenever you experience a disruption in your computer’s workflow, you should consider using an antivirus(AV) product as a measure to resolve the issue. If the problem is caused by malware, it will be detected and quarantined. If it isn’t, it will still help rule out what the problem isn’t and at minimum, keep attackers at bay until you can manage to get things resolved.