Catastrophic failure is a complete, sudden, often unexpected breakdown in a machine, electronic system, computer or network. Such a breakdown may occur as a result of a hardware event such as a disk drive crash, memory chip failure or surge on the power line. Catastrophic failure can also be caused by software conflicts or malware. Sometimes a single component in a critical location fails, resulting in downtime for the entire system.
By submitting your personal information, you agree that TechTarget and its partners may contact you regarding relevant content, products and special offers.
Well-engineered computers and networks are designed so that localized faults rarely precipitate catastrophic failures. Engineering practices such as graceful degradation and fault tolerance are elements of a sound fault-management platform. Graceful degradation is the ability of a system or network to maintain limited functionality even when a large portion of it has been destroyed or rendered inoperative. Fault-tolerant describes a computer system or component designed so that, in the event that a component fails, a backup component or procedure can immediately take its place with no loss of service.