In a computer program code or in the engineering of a hardware device, errors, or what is known in the computer world as “bugs” occur. Debugging is the process of locating and removing these computer program bugs, abnormalities, or errors, which is usually handled by skillful software programmers with the use of debugging tools and debugging checks. They then detect and correct these bugs to allow the proper program operation to run normally, according to its set specifications.

A program user who does not know anything about fixing the problem may learn and understand enough about the problem to enable him/her to avoid it until the problem is permanently fixed.

When somebody claims that he has “debugged” a program or has “gotten rid of the bugs” in a program, these would convey the idea that they had fixed it, that the bugs no longer exist and that the program can now be used and operated according to its specifications.

How Debugging Takes Place

Software debugging happens in two phases. One is known as alpha testing. This is done in-house before the software is introduced into the market. The other phase is performed through a public process known as beta testing. Beta testers are voluntary computer buffs and enthusiasts, who use beta software at their risk and under the agreement that errors or problems are to be reported to the developers.

Before these bugs can be fixed, they’ll need to be identified and isolated. So the first step these beta testers do is to test the software under different conditions. When a bug appears, the debugger notes down the specific, accurate conditions under which it showed itself, including the current running function, the type and version of the operating system, and other software or hardware elements that might be significant. These public beta testers then make a submission of detailed reports online citing the important details accordingly by filling out a pre-customized form.

As the debugging phases get completed, the software program is now ready for release to the public as a stable version. Debugging continues though, as a maintenance protocol for the product’s life.

Hardware does not go through the real-world beta-testing as this is viewed to be costly and problematic. Instead, hardware is debugged before being rolled out into the market. In any case, most hardware manufacturers have an online interface where users can find technical support or report problems with their hardware. As it turned out, in a lot of cases, it has been observed that the problems were user errors.

To be sure, in-house debugging rids software and hardware of many bugs but the experts say nothing beats real-world testing. It is almost impossible, after all, for manufacturers to replicate every condition and system under which either software or hardware will be used. For this reason, many smart and experienced PC users wait for about a year or two before switching to a new operating system. This gives the community time to observe and identify any major problems on security, bugs or errors that might need some debugging and fixing.