My computer is "Out of Memory" and I can't figure out why.

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I have a Dell Inspiron 640m with 2gb physical RAM and tri-boot.
I usually leave it running for days without restarting but recently various programs complain of lack or memory and programs won't open until I close some other programs.
I can't figure out why this is as task manager usually shows usage of 1.5-2.3gb and even above 2gb shouldn't be a problem as I have set 6gb more hard drive for virtual RAM.
(I have tried removing virtual RAM but it did not help. Nor did cleanups such as CCleaner)

Why is my computer "dying"?
Why does (Virtual) Memory not add up to the PF value given?
Also, not needed for points but would be helpful for how to fix said problem.
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Brian PiercePhotographer
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you can safely show us task manager - it may be handy to see what is consuming the memory.

it can also help to do a clean up of temp files
Part of it is memory addressing. Regardless of how much memory you have, or how much virtual drive space you have, 32 bit Windows can only allocate up to 4GB total memory address space. Also, by default in XP 32 bit, 2GB of that address space is reserved for Windows, and 2GB for applications. So even if Windows is only using a small amount of memory itself, all your applications can only add up to 2GB total. Even without this limit, any time your memory usage gets higher than physicall memory, you are going to have issues and performance problems.

You can increase that to 3GB for applications leaving only 1GB for the Windows executive by using the /3GB switch in your boot.ini, however in practice that usually causes more problems than it solves in a desktop situation. It's really only useful in very specific circumstances usually involving specialized servers.

Also, take a look at USER objects and GDI objects by going to View|Select Columns in Task Manager.
When you have a large amount of programs open, or if any of them are using too many objects, you can reach the object limit as well. Not likely, but I have seen it with a few poorly written apps.

In reality, if you are consistently using more than 2GB of memory, you will sesriously want to look at getting into a 64bit operating system, and getting at least 4GB of RAM.

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@KCTS Looking into it.
@Kenneniah Roughly 6000 objects in total. What does this equate to?
6000? nothing to worry about there. There really isn't a good hard limit to give you as to whether or not object usage will start causing problems, as it varies based on available ram etc. There is a default limit per process of 10,000. Unless you are getting 5k or higher on a single process, or above around 20-30k total I wouldn't worry about objects.

Also, to correct something I said earlier, the 2GB limitation is per application not total. That said though, due to the way 32bit addressing works, and how Windows XP handles memory mapping, caching, and reservation , as you exceed 2GB you will see more "not enough memory"messages. It just all depends on exactly what all is going on.
Narender GakkaAWS / DevOps / Cloud Consultant

Use WHats running for more info and easy trouble shooting


How can I find out how much of each win/app percentage I'm using and how much I have of each?

Most likely you are running into a Desktop heap issue. This is a well known issue if you are running lot of applicatons on a system or if there is an application that spawn multiple worker processes. Each application uses some shared section memory from each desktop or winstation.
Apply the changes as mentioned in and I hope that would help.

If you really want to track whats going on then you can create a perfmon capture with memory, CPU, Processes, processor, -with all instances and all objects. and keep it running until issue happens. However, I doubt that will help if that is a desktop heap issue. To track desktop heap counters you would have to use dheapmon:

First I would suggest you make the changes as mentioned in the KB and let us know.Be careful, take a back up of the regisrty before modification.


Did see that article, but it doesn't seem to be helping.

dheapmon looks good, but I don't think it is compatible with SP3.

Once you make the change this will need a reboot to take affect since its gets initialised at boot.
secondly what value do you see on your computer under sharedSec as mentioned in the KB?


zzz was 512; I've changed it to 1024.


Tweaked dheap to run, attached the output for you.
Great! Session 0 is the console session where all services run.. I see this being almost exhausted to 99% :). Do you see the processes failing to start with a STATUS_DLL_INIT_FAILED (0xC0000142) in the Event viewer? Also, do you see a drop in utilization when you close some of your apps?

At this time I would say you have either /or
-Exhausted the complete Interactive shared section 2nd parameter i.e. 3072, and you would need to reduce some of your app/utilization
-One or more of your applications has a bug that it is holding more than what it ideally should and not a good option to troubleshoot
-If each of your app uses interacive service and running under local system account, make them  run under another account and uncheck the option that says interact with desktop.


Thanks, please help me with the continuation of this question at

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