Cannot start Excel 2003 'Not Enough Memory Message'

Posted on 2009-04-22
Last Modified: 2012-08-14
I've been using MS Office Professional 2003 (SP3) with no problems for years. I'm using Windows XP Pro SP3. Ample RAM and disk space. Suddenly today Excel will not start but gives a 'Not Enough Memory to run Microsoft Office Excel' message. It is not related to any specific .xls, but to the application itself. Word, Access and Outlook start and work o.k. Publisher, Powerpoint and OneNote also will not start. OneNote gets into a loop, repeatedly presenting the Send error report to Microsoft dialog.

The offer to start in Safe Mode also fails (same message). Attempts to Repair Excel fail, after inserting the original MS Office Pro CD, with an Error 1326 'Error getting file security C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\OFFICE11\GDIPLUS.DLL GetLastError: 5'

Rebooting windows makes no difference. Other applications appear to function normally --only Office programs are affected.

Help! I'm at a loss as to what the cause could be and what to do about it.
Question by:MikeGatehouse
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    by:Brian Withun
    I have no idea what could be causing your problem.  I think you've already performed the regular set of resolution techniques, so here is a page I've found for you that might help you get your hands a little dirtier:

    Also, there had been some kind of problem like this which would occur on Excel 2000.  I wonder if that fix may apply to you?


    Author Comment

    Thanks for the links: I had already found the second one relating to Office 2000 and will test the solution. I doubt, thought, whether they will resolve this problem.

    I'm wary of uninstalling and reinstalling MS Office, as
    -I found messages from other users with similar problems for whom this did not resolve the problem
    -I will then have to apply the Service Packs, since my Office CD is probably SP1 or earlier
    -My attempt to repair, using the Office CD when prompted, led to the mysterious Error 1326 'Error getting file security', so it is possible the complete reinstall will not work.

    The first link you provided seems to relate only to Excel and would not account for the refusal of Publisher, Powerpoint and OneNote to start, giving the same Insufficient Memory Error.

    Presumably the problem must relate to a common file used by Excel, Publisher, Powerpoint and OneNote?

    Author Comment

    After further tests, I've determined the following:
    1. Word, Outlook and Access seem unaffected
    2. Excel, Publisher, Powerpoint and OneNote will not start either from a file double-click or from Start-Programs. All give 'Insufficient Memory Errors'.
    3. OneNote always posts the 'has encountered a problem and needs to close... Send Error Report' dialog, in a perpetual loop.
    4. None of the affected apps can be started in Safe Mode
    5. Repair will not work (Error 1236).
    6. If I start Windows in Safe Mode, I can start the affected apps and load spreadsheets, publications and presentations, normally.

    Microsoft says that this proves that the problem must be some other program. I've explored the programs and procedures launched at startup (I have a nifty utility called Startup Organizer, from MetaProducts) and have tried disabling various potential culprits, without success.

    Any suggestions would be much appreciated.
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    by:Brian Withun
    Interesting that Safe Mode allows your apps to start.  I agree that this suggests there is something afoot with your other software, since SafeMode is basically meant to NOT launch many of the unnecessary things.

    You may need to go down this list of Safe Mode behaviors and consider each one of these.  It could be that in Regular (Not Safe) Mode, if you do one of these things, you'll be able to launch Excel.  Depending upon which one of these things cures it, you'll have to determine WHY it cures it.  Some driver or configuration is crippling your system.  When did this start happening?  What might you have done just prior to the problem?  New software?

    I'm thinking #1, #3, or #6 may help.

    1) Safe Mode does not run the autoexec.bat or config.sys files.

    2) Most device drivers are not loaded. A device driver is the software that Windows uses to interact with a piece of hardware, such as a printer or scanner.

    3) Instead of the normal graphics device driver, Safe Mode uses standard VGA graphics mode. This mode is supported by all Windows-compatible video cards.

    4) Himem.sys, which is normally loaded as part of the config.sys script, is loaded with the /testmem:on switch. This switch tells the computer to test the extended memory before continuing.

    5) Safe Mode checks the msdos.sys file for information on where to find the rest of the Windows files. If it finds the files, it proceeds to load Windows in Safe Mode with the command win /d:m. If it does not find the Windows files, it will run to bring up a C: prompt.

    6) Windows boots using a batch file called system.cb instead of the standard system.ini file. This file loads the Virtual Device Drivers (VxDs) that Windows uses to communicate with the standard parts of the computer.

    7) Windows now loads the regular system.ini file plus win.ini and Registry settings. It skips the [Boot] (except for the shell and device lines) and [386Enh] sections of system.ini and does not load or run any programs listed in win.ini.

    8) The Windows desktop loads up in 16 colors and at a resolution of 640 x 480 with the words "Safe Mode" in each corner.

    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    When in normal mode, open excel in safe mode (hold CTRL while clicking to open the shortcut). Click Tools > Addins, then disable all your addins.

    Restart excel, if it starts up ok then one of your add-ins is causing the problem.
    Reactivate ONE add-in and restart excel. continue until you find your problem add-in, and reinstall it.

    LVL 11

    Expert Comment

    Oh i misread your post about the safe mode not starting. Please ignore it.

    I previously experienced this when a corrupted crystal reports module as part of an excel reports program was installed on a workstation, and reinstallation of both the program and the module helped solve this problem.

    Accepted Solution

    Thanks, everyone, for helpful suggestions. The bizarre thing is that the problem resolved itself. I was continuing with other work and, without thinking, clicked a shortcut to an Excel spreadsheet which I use for logging things. Windows Installer came up, after a while demanded the Office XP Pro CD and, to my surprise, successfully completed the repair installation without giving the GDIPLUS.DLL error. Since when Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher and OneNote have all resumed normal functioning.

    The only explanations I can think of are:
    * one of the background processes which is regularly updated (e.g. Outpost Security Suite, which updates itself several times a day) had a glitch which was removed by a subsequent background update.
    * one of the several changes I made to the Startup configuration (I use Startup Organizer) removed the problem application (although at the time I made them, none of these changes appeared to work, even after a reboot)
    * conceivably the large photo .jpg I was using as wall-paper was causing a problem (this used to happen years ago on PCs with small RAM, but shouldn't happen on my 3Gb system). I removed it pro tem and reverted to a no-wallpaper desktop.

    Who knows? It's a mystery. Meanwhile, I'm just grateful to be back to normal working.

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