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I understand that ECC checks for errors and corrects them automatically without the knowledge of the operating system or user. I don't understand however why servers often use ECC memory?

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    $\begingroup$ Hello, and welcome to Computer Science StackExchange! While this is definitely a good question, it might have been closed because it's not about computer science per se, but rather about IT best practices. You might have more and better luck with such questions at our sister sites. That said, if you're unsure, please feel free to ask away, and we'll be happy to try to direct you to the most appropriate site. I recommend you check out ServerFault (serverfault.com). $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 8 '14 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Error Correcting Codes is computer architecture which is legal to ask about according to the guidelines. $\endgroup$ – CompilerSaysNo May 8 '14 at 16:01
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    $\begingroup$ Very true - you'll notice that I didn't vote to close it, nor did Raphael, another moderator. I'm simply speculating on why the other community members might have felt it was off-topic for this site. Note a distinction I think is important: questions about ECC itself are probably solidly on-topic, but questions about real-world practices involving ECC are a little less clearly on-topic for this site. There are other sites dedicated to answering questions that focus on real-world practical applications of technology... but this is not a primary focus of this site. $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 8 '14 at 16:19
  • $\begingroup$ Still, please feel free to come discuss in the chat - chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/2710/computer-science - if you have additional questions or feel like your question should be reopened. If you'd like, you can edit your question to explain how a CS expert would be more likely to provide you with a useful answer than you could find elsewhere, and flag for reopening (or simply ping a moderator). Thanks for contributing and your patience. :) $\endgroup$ – Patrick87 May 8 '14 at 16:21
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    $\begingroup$ This question is off-topic because it's about computer architecture in the engineering sense (how computers are built), not in the science sense (computer architecture). Furthermore it's about economic or social relevance, which again is unrelated to science. It would be on-topic on Super User (but it would probably be a duplicate). $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 8 '14 at 16:37
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The idea of ECC memory is that sometimes memory bits spontaneously flip --- this is rare but happens with noticeable probability, especially if memory is large. Using ECC memory, you can recover from such errors, at a certain cost (overhead).

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  • $\begingroup$ This doesn't actually explain anything. Why do memory bits flip? Why servers? $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' May 8 '14 at 16:35
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles Well, just my 2 cents. Admittedly I don't know anything about it. Care to write an answer yourself? $\endgroup$ – Yuval Filmus May 8 '14 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Gilles: Why do bits flip? Cosmic radiation hitting a memory cell, for example. Why servers? Because it costs money, so you do it in a $10,000 server but not in a $300 laptop. $\endgroup$ – gnasher729 Mar 14 '17 at 22:21

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