What Does It Mean When A Bug Turns Out To Be A Feature?

One of the biggest advantages of working with an IT support service is that it helps to demystify a field of technology that can at first be surprisingly intimidating.

Modern operating systems are designed to streamline and hide the millions of complex instructions that a computer processes every single second and give the illusion of a simple, straightforward productivity machine that helps people get more done.

In reality, as with most aspects of life, it takes a lot of hard work to make something look easy, and so much work goes into all of the features that make IT equipment accessible and easy to use.

Some of these can have issues or can go wrong when certain parts of a computer interact with other parts, something that is known as a computer bug. 

Whilst often credited to a rather infamous incident on 9th September 1947 when a literal moth was found in an early electromechanical computer at Harvard University, the term had been used in engineering for nearly a century before this.

However, one phrase that was first used in the world of computers but has since stepped out beyond this is the expression “It is not a bug, it is a feature” (INABIAF).

First written in the satirical glossary The Jargon File, INABIAF is a term that a lot of technical experts still use, and can even be found in other places where there is a mismatch between expectations and reality.

However, whilst it can often be used as a joke or a somewhat dismissive remark, it does highlight a potential disconnect between different types of users, and if someone has to note that what looks like a bug is a feature, there is something wrong.

The Perils Of Undocumented Features

Both bugs and undocumented features are oversights, but the difference between them is where in the creation process the oversight emerged.

A bug is an oversight in the development process, caused by either a coding error or an unforeseen interaction between the software and some combination of the users, hardware, operating system or other programs.

The big reason why some operating systems such as Windows 95 had an infamous reputation for regularly crashing and showing a blue screen of death was due to bugs that emerged when certain types of hardware interacted with drivers that interacted with the operating system.

However, an undocumented feature, by contrast, is not an oversight in development given that the feature works as intended, but instead is an oversight in documentation, as something happens that a user is not intended, and if it is difficult to either replicate or return to a normal setting, can be somewhat distressing.

This is not always the case, as some undocumented features are legacy functions that are kept in later versions, orphaned or untested features that have not been removed completely, or so-called easter eggs intended to reward particularly curious individuals.

The problem with undocumented features is that intentional or otherwise, unexpected features are indistinguishable from bugs, and technical support teams will often resolve issues in the same way.

it support essex - worried programmer

Let’s have a chat

Whether you want a complete shake-up of your current IT services or an answer to simple question, SYS3 are always happy to help. Contact us today for a free, no obligation chat about your requirements.

  • Simplify your IT
  • Reduce your spending
  • Increase reliability
  • Enjoy no-contract, unrivalled support across Essex and Suffolk

We know moving IT services can be a daunting task but we promise it’s much easier than you think. When you’re ready to talk, we’re here, happy to help

0345 313 1919

Get in touch

    Our Other Services

    Backing up is VITAL!

    Backing up should be everyones top priority. All too often we see businesses decide to start backing up the wrong side of a costly hard drive disaster or data breach.

    With viruses and malware now capable of causing so much, often irreversible, damage, a substantial backup is imperative. If you’re infected with ransomware, a recent backup often the only way to get you back up and running.

    Why offsite backup and not a removable hard drive?

    Preferably both! But never just a hard drive. Why? Hard drives can fail. It’s as simple as that. Ransomware infections can also creep onto hard drives if they’re left plugged into an infected machine. 

    ​SYS3 use the most reliable and intelligent backup solutions on the market to ensure that our customers’ data is kept secure.

    Why buy your hardware from SYS3?

    Years ago, SYS3 started out by building and supplying custom computer hardware. We know our stuff.

    We keep up with the latest in technology so we are able to provide our customers with the best possible equipment without breaking the bank. Whether you need a new server, laptop, printer or network switch, we’ll always provide you with a variety of options and recommendations to suit your business needs.

    The more advanced technology becomes, the more advanced the bad guys become. Gone are the days when attackers were easy to spot in a badly worded email.

    ​Did you know you can get an infection just by hovering your mouse over a dodgy website banner? Worse? Traditional antivirus products cannot protect you against everything.

    ​Human error is still largely responsible for infections and viruses but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the best protection possible to safeguard your employees and ultimately, your business.

    ​Partnered with Heimdal, SYS3 provide market-leading protection that is proactive, not reactive like traditional antivirus.


    Spam email makes up 70% of ALL email traffic across the world and social engineering means scammers can directly target key employees. Is your job title on social media?

    Over 60% of breaches are caused by human error. Are you confident that your staff are fully trained to spot email-borne threats and avoid falling victim?

    How SYS3 can help

    Just one click has the potential to grind your entire business to a halt and generate a costly bill to put right. What makes things worse is that email viruses are now incredibly clever, highly convincing, and can be very difficult to spot.

    ​Our priority is to make sure our customers are supported and protected as much as possible. 99% of our customers have adopted our mail filtering service and it comes highly recommended. It’s the first line of defence and a vital tool.


    Proud To Be Working With