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System Failure, often accompanied by loss of data. The term stems largely from the days of the first Hard Disks which were prone to physical damage. The gaps between the surface of the disk and the drive heads which read and write the data are so small (considerably less than the thickness of a human hair) that, if disturbed while in use, the heads would, literally, crash into the surface of the disk thereby ruining the surface and destroying program files and/or data. The heads had to be 'parked' in a safe position before the disk pack or computer was moved. Manufacturing standards have improved dramatically since then, and true crashes are now quite rare, but the term remains as a general description of a system suddenly stopping for no immediately obvious reason.

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