Computer Crashed? Watch the Instant Replay

Dennis Faas's picture

It's late (usually well past midnight) and you've just finished an eight-page term paper due at eight o'clock the next morning. You scroll over to click the print icon and then it darkness. After countless prayers and even more curse words, you finally come to the realization that your paper has been lost forever.

While it takes everything you have to start from scratch, you begin to wonder: what if I had seen the crash coming, or at the very least, have seen what caused the crash to avoid future occurrences?

Thanks to two researchers, this improbable concept has become a reality. While working together at a small Internet start-up company, two friends found themselves the victims of several computer crashes. Attempting to put an end to these annoyances once and for all, they soon found that they were chasing "ghost bugs" that seemed to disappear almost as fast as they appeared. (Source:

The friends mused over the idea of a TiVo system specially designed to catch these "ghost bugs" in the act.

While family members offered their moral support, they also believed the task was too impossible to make a reality. For one thing, the friends had to account for everything that can affect a program, from keystrokes, mouse movements and other software applications to network traffic and programming instructions that are designed to occur at random. (Source:

After six years of intense research, what started as an improbable idea has become a real product called ReplayDirector. The program works on the Xbox gaming platform and several other versions of the Microsoft Windows operating system.

The key selling point is ReplayDirector's ability to capture viruses that cannot be reproduced. In other words, once a "ghost bug" is caught, it will never harm (or crash) your system again.

There is one minor setback in the program: there's no feature allowing users to fast-forward to the actual crash. Instead, victims must sit back and watch the entire sequence of events from the time the computer was turned on to the time of the crash.

While a number of other programs available on the market have the ability to take snapshots of the problem, ReplayDirector is the only program that offers an entire full-length video of the crash itself.

The current asking price for ReplayDirector is $50,000/project, which can only mean that the company is targeting major software developing companies. Still, if the product catches on in popularity, we could soon find similar programs available for the average user to purchase. (Source:

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