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XP Memory Leaks?

By wareid ·
I know very little about memory leaks themselves, but I know they slow down computers. Since about 3 months ago, I noticed my XP slowing down greatly after only a few hours. I used to have Windows 98, and I knew about memory leaks with that, and I gues the lesser leaks in XP threw me off until I got accustomed. It usually gets bad if I am downloading something (no matter how small) if I'm working in Paint Shop Pro or Macromedia, or if I'm on MSN. Sometimes it even prevents me from working effciently with Notepad! Are there any solutions for this?
Note: I've already virus scanned and gotten rid of any viruses.

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Windows is more of a memory locker

by Deadly Ernest In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

What most people refer to as memory leaks in Windows is more a case of locking the memory. In that various applications, usually by Microsoft, do not clear out and release the Random Access Memory (RAM) when they close down - sometimes this also effects the VM. This reduces the amount of memory available for the other programs when run. They do not actual slow down the Windows OS but can give a perception of that as the program need to utilise the VM more than otherwise.

If this is truely the cause of your problem you should first adjust your policy settings by

My Computer >> Control Panel >> Administrative Tools >> Local Security Policy -- Local Policies -- Security options .... Near the bottom of the list is option 'Shutdown:Clear Virtual Memory Page File' enable this option. This will clear the VM at shutdown.

Then you need a memory management program, I use MemTurbo from I have an older shareware version, the latest has more bells and you must buy it. I can email you a copy of what I have if you want (please run Av before openein - as you should on anything).

Another option is to just add more RAM to your system. This will delay the time before a lock up. Everytime you reboot the RAM is cleared so frequent reboots will alleviate this a bit.

You should also check what programs are starting up as that is the most common cause of systems slowing down. Go Start >> Run >> type MSCONFIG then hit RUN and examine what is listed in the right hand two tabs. Untick items that you know you do not need at start up on each reboot. You should also research and checkout items that you do not know what they do.

It is also a good idea to turn off services that you do not use as well. This frees up RAM.

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Windows has always been a potential

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

disaster area on this front.
It's certainly possible there are leaks finding them is another problem entirely.

At an application level there are two sorts of leak.
Either the application will gradually waste memory as it's running, but will free it when closed.
Or it will waste memory while running and not free it when closed. Reboot solves the second one.

What sort of leaks from where and when will require a lot of investigation.

Look up performance monitor.

Set it going monitoring an application and memory params. Do your normal stuff and keep an eye on the graph.

However you can't assume that it's the app at fault. If it's a windows api that's being called, then you need another app that also calls it and see if works any different.

This is usually so much hassle, that people just reboot when the machine gets slow.

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Close-out unused DLLs in memory

by RShady In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

Windows Explorer caches DLLs (Dynamic-Link Libraries) in memory for a period of time after the application using them has been closed. This can be an inefficient use of memory on low memory systems, and may cause sluggishness.
This involves making a small change to the registry,
so export your registry (backup) before applying this.
Open your registry and find the key

Create a new sub-key under the main key (Explorer) titled AlwaysUnloadDLL . Over in the right pane the NAME should be default and the type should be a string value (REG_SZ). If it isn't, change it to that. Double click (default) and enter a 1 .
Restart the system for this change to take place.

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Same here...

by otoe1 In reply to Close-out unused DLLs in ...

I found that fix a couple of months ago and used it to increase the performance of my XP Pro machine.

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As posted elsewhere in this topic...

by ?/\/\?|???\/??? In reply to Same here...


>> AlwaysUnloadDLL <<
This may have been valid in the days of Windows 95, 98, and ME, but it doesn't seem to apply with today's Windows operating systems, including Windows XP.
"The Platform SDK documentation says "For operating systems prior to Windows 2000, you can shorten the inactive period by adding the following information to the registry."

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More Info Needed

by rkuhn In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

Before so boldly deciding that a memory leak is indeed the problem, I think we need more info.

CPU speed, amount of RAM, etc.

I run Win XP on everything from 256MB of RAM up to 2GB (at work and at home) and haven't experienced the issue described here (I reboot once a day on workstations).

Not to say that it isn't your problem, but more details would be helpful.

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Check Running Processes inTask Manager Also

by bobj In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

All good points to check. I like the registry tweak.
You can isolate resource hogs in running processes in task manager. Monitor it regularly and it may show you any processes that are consuming memory. I had a Netgear gigabit NIC card that would gradually consume resources over a few days until the machine would slow down. There was an executable (ga311.exe) That was responsible and it was very evident. I don't know why it was doing this. Driver issue? But I replaced the card with an intel pro adapter and it cured my problem.

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Use windbg

by NZ_Justice In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

This is a debug program, you can use to dump your application processes and can dump memory. It dumps the memory in to a dump file and then you can send this to Microsoft , and they can offer you advise. Most likely they will tell you that a third party application or driver is the cause of all your problems. You could also try debugging the problem yourself, but not easy to debug even with the symbol folders downloaded from M$ or third party vendor, if you don't know what you doing.

Download process explorer from sysinternals and watch which process keep consuming more memory. If it is an MS process with a memory leek MS will likely have a hotfix, google the process consuming all the memory and you should find a link to the hotfix alternatively download all the critical windows XP updates from M$. Adobe Reader six leaks memory like there is no tomorrow, upgrade to very latest version of adobe reader.

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Addressing many of the items brought up by others...

by ?/\/\?|???\/??? In reply to XP Memory Leaks?

Just to address a few things that were brought up:
>> Near the bottom of the list is option 'Shutdown:Clear Virtual Memory Page File' enable this option. This will clear the VM at shutdown <<
Yes, but it won't help with the original problem ("XP slowing down greatly after only a few hours"). states:
"Shutdown: Clear virtual memory page file
This policy setting determines whether the virtual memory page file is cleared when the computer is shut down. Virtual memory support uses a system page file to swap pages of memory to disk when they are not used. On a running computer, this page file is opened exclusively by the operating system, and it is well protected. However, computers that are configured to allow other operating systems to start might have to make sure that the system page file is wiped clean when the computer shuts down. This confirmation ensures that sensitive information from process memory that might be placed in the page file is not available to an unauthorized user who manages to directly access the page file after shutdown."

This is more of a security setting than a "performance" setting. In fact, this can have a negative impact on the "shutdown performance" - from the same link:
"For a server with 2 GB of RAM and a 2 GB paging file, this policy setting could increase the shutdown process by 20 to 30 minutes, or more."

>> Then you need a memory management program, I use MemTurbo from <<
I recommend reading Mark Russinovich's (of and excellent article "The Memory-Optimization Hoax" (
Ultimately, Mark states:
"These utilities appear to do useful work, but at best, RAM optimizers have no effect, and at worst, they seriously degrade performance."

>> type MSCONFIG then hit RUN <<
MSCONFIG is nice in a pinch, but I would have a look at Sysinternals' AutoRuns ( - it exposes details from many more startup locations.

>> AlwaysUnloadDLL <<
This may have been valid in the days of Windows 95, 98, and ME, but it doesn't seem to apply with today's Windows operating systems, including Windows XP.
"The Platform SDK documentation says "For operating systems prior to Windows 2000, you can shorten the inactive period by adding the following information to the registry."

I would agree that more information is needed about the problem. Performance Monitor, Task Manager, WinDbg, and Process Explorer are all nice utilities that can be used to troubleshoot various types of issues.

Additionally, I will add that not all "leaks" are memory leaks, in the conventional sense. Some programs leak "handles" (failing to "release" the reference to an object for which a handle was acquired) - see the "Handle Count" column in Task Manager or Process Explorer. Some programs leak paged pool memory or non-paged pool memory (see the "Paged Pool" and "NP Pool" columns in Task Manager)...

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Response to some matters raised

by Deadly Ernest In reply to Addressing many of the it ...

1. - just Hhd a look at the site and it is good, however I have never heard of it before and it does NOT come with XP while MSCONFIG does. Thus I would use MSCONFIG immediately and downloa AUTORUNS for future use. Thanks for the tip.

2. Virtual Memory - if you do not clear it out it bloats up to fill the hard drive, a waste of space. Also virtual memory uses some RAM to note what is in the VM and I have seen a few rare cases where the details of VM info had been reloaded into RAM following a reboot. Thus clearing VM is a good maintenance activity that may or may not affect your RAM operation - but should still be done.

3. Use of a memory manager - I have yet to see a memeory manager that provides a moment to moment system performance enhancement as they do need resources to run. I have seen them improve longer term system performance by eliminating most BSODs and the like, many of which are caused by insufficient RAM to run a program or part of a program. I recommend the use of a memory manager like MemTurbo for every MS Windows installation that has less than 512 MB of RAM. Some examples of the differences they make.

(a) A college system that used WIN NT4 and MS Word on Pentium machines with 128 MB RAM. Students found that opening and closing Word several times caused the system to crash with a general protection fault due to 'insufficient memory'. Installation of MemTurbo set to recover when available RAM below 25 MB resulted in MemTurbo running and clearing the RAM and the system did not crash.

(b) Friend had a Pentium 3 with Win 2K and 128 MB RAM. He bought a new game that set minimum requirements of Win 98 or later, Pentium, 96 MB RAM. Every time he ran it the system crashed. Investigation suggested a memory problem. Installed MemTurbo and ran the game, system did not crash as MemTurbo cleared RAM for the game halfway through loading the game. Further investigation showed that he had 90 MB of RAM used by the operating system and all the stuff that opened at start up - things like the MS Office tool bar and preload software for a dozen applications like Quicktime, Acrobat Reader, Photoshop, etc. Cleaned out all that crap and he had no more problems.

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