Need the definition of concept of Windows Memory Leak, and symptoms of this elusive concept.

Posted on 2005-02-24
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
Need the definition of “Windows Memory Leak”, and symptoms of this elusive concept.


I have been a Level II Helpdesk Technician [with schooling for MCSA] for three years.  I have heard about the “Windows Memory Leak”, but I don’t understand the rudiments of the concept.  I checked Webopedia and found: [A bug in a program that prevents it from freeing up memory that it no longer needs. As a result, the program grabs more and more memory until it finally crashes because there is no more memory left.]  However, I still don’t understand.  I’ve heard the term tossed around a lot and it seems to be a sort of computer industry urban legend.  I searched the DB here and see the term as it applies to other various areas.  I am trying to understand the concept itself in a basic way, and what basic symptoms/causes it has.  It seems to me that many techs blame slow pc behavior on a memory leak, but they never have any evidence.  Many issues are getting unfairly blamed on the elusive memory leak.

How does a tech know when there’s a memory leak problem?  
Can it be proved?  
How do you know?  
*Can the memory leak problem be properly isolated in the trouble-shooting steps?
What does Microsoft say about memory leaks?
What are the symptoms?
What is the fix?
Question by:Mark O'Brien
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Accepted Solution

Exchange_Admin earned 600 total points
ID: 13396344
A memory leak is not an urban legend. It does happen at times. It is just like you the definition from Webopedia.
However too many times techs blame a problem on a memory leak because it is an easy scapegoat.
The best way to troubleshoot for a memory leak is to capture a performance monitor log against the problem computer. Then it can be analysed to see if there seems to be memory issues.
Unfortunately there is no QUICK way to determine if there is a memory leak. These often take days or even weeks to show up as a problem. This is why so many techs do not spend the time to determine if there is an actual memory leak.

There are several knowledge base articles in the MS knowledge base that explains how to troubleshoot memory leaks for various applications. You should be able to see the common troubleshooting thread by reading these.
I used the following keywords in my search:
troubleshooting memory leak

Hope this helps.

Expert Comment

ID: 13396401
here are some links to articles and a utility microsoft provided for jsut this purpose.


basically what happens is you start a program and it keeps taking more and more memory then you close the app and it does not release the memory back to teh system essentially being lost into a black hole. then you restart the app and again it starts consuming memory.

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