A temporary disruption of a memory cell that causes its content to change from 0 to 1 or 1 to 0. The cause may be radioactive decay within the chip itself or cosmic rays from outer space. Without error correction built into the hardware, a soft error within a string of data may go unnoticed, unless financial amounts are involved. If an instruction resides in the faulty cell, or if the cell contains codes and settings used by the software, the program may crash or produce erroneous results. The remedy for soft errors is a cold boot. Contrast with hard error. See cold boot, parity checking and ECC memory.