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Error in Java vs. Exception in Java — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Published on January 11, 2024
Error in Java represents critical problems that usually can't be handled. Exception in Java signifies issues that can be handled by code.
Error in Java vs. Exception in Java — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Error in Java and Exception in Java


Key Differences

In Java, an Error indicates severe issues that typically can't be handled, encompassing scenarios like memory exhaustion (OutOfMemoryError) or system failures. Errors are unrecoverable and can crash the application.
On the contrary, an Exception in Java denotes issues arising within a program but can be handled using try-catch blocks. Checked exceptions require explicit handling, whereas unchecked exceptions like NullPointerException occur during runtime.
Errors, like StackOverflowError or OutOfMemoryError, are irrecoverable and usually signify critical system problems, leading to termination of the application.
Exceptions, such as IOException or NullPointerException, are recoverable and allow handling via try-catch blocks, ensuring smoother program execution.
Errors are typically unexpected and severe, arising due to system failures or memory-related issues, and aren't recoverable programmatically.
Exceptions are exceptions to normal program flow but can be anticipated and handled through specific error-handling mechanisms in the code.
Java Errors aren't meant to be caught or handled by the application but signify critical issues that often lead to termination.
Java Exceptions are meant to be handled within the program flow using constructs like try-catch or throw, allowing the application to respond to unexpected conditions.
Errors are instances where the system's integrity is compromised, and continuing the program might lead to unpredictable results.
Exceptions represent conditions where the program's flow is disrupted but can be addressed using exception handling to prevent abrupt termination.

Comparison Chart


Irrecoverable, critical issues
Recoverable, manageable with exception handling

Handling Approach

Unhandled, critical system problems
Managed using try-catch blocks

Termination Impact

Often leads to application termination
Allows application to handle unexpected situations


OutOfMemoryError, StackOverflowError
NullPointerException, IOException

Expected Nature

Unanticipated and severe system failures
Exceptions to normal program flow

Compare with Definitions

Error in Java

Signifies critical issues that can't be recovered programmatically.
OutOfMemoryError in Java is an Error indicating severe memory depletion.

Exception in Java

Disrupts normal program flow but can be addressed through exception handling.
IOException in Java is an Exception arising during input/output operations.

Error in Java

Unhandled instances signaling critical problems, causing application crashes.
Java Errors, like OutOfMemoryError, lead to abrupt application termination.

Exception in Java

Represents recoverable issues, allowing handling via try-catch blocks.
NullPointerException in Java is an Exception arising due to null references.

Error in Java

Leads to application termination due to critical problems.
Errors like OutOfMemoryError halt program execution as they can't be handled.

Exception in Java

Unlike Errors, Exceptions are manageable using exception handling constructs.
Java Exceptions, like ArithmeticException, can be caught and handled.

Error in Java

Represents unrecoverable problems often related to system failures.
StackOverflowError in Java is an Error caused by excessive method calls.

Exception in Java

Allows code to respond to unexpected scenarios, preventing abrupt termination.
Exceptions like ArrayIndexOutOfBoundsException can be handled using try-catch.

Error in Java

Typically arises unexpectedly, disrupting the application's integrity.
Errors in Java like StackOverflowError are unpredictable and severe.

Exception in Java

Indicates issues within the program flow that can be anticipated and managed.
Unchecked Exceptions in Java occur at runtime and need error handling.

Common Curiosities

Can a checked Exception in Java be unhandled?

No, checked Exceptions in Java must be handled using try-catch or specified in the method signature.

How can an Error be differentiated from an Exception in Java?

Errors represent critical and unrecoverable issues, often related to system failures, while Exceptions are recoverable and can be handled using try-catch blocks.

Is throwing an Exception similar to returning a value from a method?

Throwing an Exception disrupts the normal flow of a method, while returning a value completes the method execution as intended.

Can Errors be recovered from during program execution?

No, Errors usually indicate critical issues like memory exhaustion or system failures, leading to application termination.

Can Errors be caught or handled in Java?

Errors are typically severe issues indicating system problems and are not meant to be caught or handled programmatically.

What happens when an Error occurs in a Java program?

Errors typically indicate critical system issues, leading to program termination as they are unrecoverable.

Can Errors be caught using a try-catch block?

Errors are critical issues not meant to be caught or handled by application code using try-catch blocks.

What's the significance of a finally block in Exception handling?

The finally block in Java ensures that code within it executes regardless of whether an Exception occurs or not, often used for cleanup operations.

What is the purpose of creating custom Exceptions in Java?

Custom Exceptions in Java allow developers to create specialized exceptions catering to specific application requirements or error scenarios.

How can Exception propagation affect program flow?

Exception propagation in Java refers to the process where an unhandled Exception moves up the call stack, potentially terminating the program.

Can Exceptions always be predicted in Java?

Exceptions aren't always predictable but are exceptional conditions that might arise during program execution, necessitating handling.

Can Exceptions be ignored in a Java program?

While unchecked Exceptions can be ignored, handling them ensures robust and predictable program execution.

Is it advisable to continue program execution after encountering an Error?

No, it's not recommended to continue program execution after encountering an Error in Java, as it might lead to unpredictable behavior or system instability.

What measures can be taken to prevent Errors in Java programs?

Errors are often related to system-level issues; monitoring resource usage and efficient coding practices can minimize their occurrence.

Are Errors encountered frequently in Java programming?

Errors are relatively rare in typical Java programming scenarios and usually indicate severe system-level issues.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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