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Where to look for help with application crashes

These resources can point you to a solution when the popular word processor acts up.

In a comment on my last post, cdotspace asked about how to keep Microsoft Word 2007 from crashing. When I had this problem, I solved it by starting Word with no add-ons, and then enabling the add-ons one at a time until the problem recurred. I removed the troublemaker, which was actually a macro of my own poor devising, and no more crashes.

That got me thinking about how difficult it is to figure out the cause of application crashes. Back in March, I described ways to diagnose applications that won't close properly. But when it comes to finding the source of software problems, look to the Web.

The best software-support sites
Start by getting a free software checkup with the Secunia Personal Software Inspector, which scans your computer and lets you know if there are security updates available for Windows and your applications. PSI is free for home, non-commercial use; Secunia's commercial Network Software Inspector costs $32.83 per seat. Note that PSI and NSI are intended to supplement rather than to replace your antivirus, firewall, and other security software.

Two forums on ExtremeTech include dozens of posts about software problems. Only about one out of 10 posts in the Software and Development forum are specifically on software glitches, but a good number of these include replies with possible solutions. The Windows Help forum is much more focused on solutions to Windows problems.

One of the categories at the Tech Support Guy Forums is Business Applications, though fewer than half of its postings relate specifically to Office apps. The site has a sophisticated search feature that lets you narrow your search by date and number of replies, and it features a search tag cloud similar to Flickr.

Tech Support Guy Forums advanced search options
Filter your searches at the Tech Support Guy Forums to narrow in on a software solution.Photo by Tech Support Guy

The Office and productivity software forum on CNET also lets you filter your searches by number of responses, date, and even message author. You might need these and other methods to filter your search results on this forum. When I searched "Microsoft Word crash," I got more than 100,000 responses. I knew the program was buggy, but that's ridiculous!