"Insufficient system resources" errors while copying large Server 2003 files

Posted on 2011-10-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I keep received the error message "Insufficient system resources" errors while copying large backup files on a Server 2003 server.

The server is a Windows Server 2003 server that has 4 GB of RAM. The paging file is set to an initial and a maximum size of 4096 MB.

The server is able to copy smaller and medium sized files without any problems.

However, when I try to copy larger files (25-90 GB in size) I always get these "Insufficient system resources" errors if I use the Windows Explorer copy and paste, cut and paste, or the command line copy or xcopy commands.

While I have been able to find a solution for copying these large backup files using the Microsoft Sync Toy program, I would like to fix the underlying server memory and system resources issues that are causing these Windows copies to fail.

The administrator who regularly administers this server needs to be able to do the regular Windows copies; he can't be expected to always use the Microsoft Sync Toy program.

So, what do I need to do to fix the underlying operating system memory and system resources issues that are causing these copy commands to fail with the "Insufficient system resources" errors?
Question by:Knowledgeable
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    I am not sure you can.  Perhaps installing teracopy, which can be set to kick in automatically, would tackle this issue?

    Author Comment

    Does anyone else know if there are any solutions, fixes, patches, or Windows updates that will help fix this issue?
    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    The deal is, you can try increasing the page pool memory in the registry, which I believe is the MS party line on this,  but it seems that more than half the time this fails and its a waste of time.

    Employing robocopy rarely gets around the problem.

    Swapping out the memory could do it.  Defective mem, of memory not well matched to the Intel or AMD architecture can affect this issue.

    I.e., you can search around for the page pool fix and try it.  You can then try using Robocopy.  You can then try different brands of memory... if that's really what you feel you need to do.

    But the bottomline is, imho, that this is simply a shortcoming in the MS Operating system... it is intolerant of some quirky hardware limitations that are naturally going to exist depending on how suitable the mate is between your mobo architecture and memory.  Amd seems more viable than Intell in this regard (spotting rumors in the wild).

    Personally, I wouldn't bother messing with page pool and memory swap until I see that teracopy won't handle it.

    Just my personal ;^)

    LVL 8

    Assisted Solution

    Here's the info from MS

    If it were me, I would first test with Robocopy, and then with Teracopy, to see if either or both of those fails before making page pool management changes, just so I have that info handy.  
    After adjusting the page pool I would test -native, -robo, and -tera again.

    If native problems persist but teracopy works, I might just leave it there, the next option seemingly being to try different brands of memory in the hopes you will overcome a hardware mismatch factor of 'slight-nuance'.

    ..i.e., its not so much that it is broken as the OS can't manage the difference-nuance.

    But if you gotta have perfection, I think its going to come down to the memory, and or g-d-only-knows-what-other not totaly perfect hardware match that is throwing MS a curve.

    ...then again, maybe someone else has better insight into this matter than I (a non-expert ;^)

    Author Comment

    So Microsoft doesn't have any sort of "fixes" to help resolve this sort of issue?

    As a network support person I am always quick to realize that some issues simply can't be easily fixed (if they can be fixed at all). I'm always willing to use third party programs like Teracopy, Microsoft Sync Toy, Robocopy, etc. as a work around to copy large files whenever I encounter these sorts of "insufficient system resources" error messages.

    However, I have a very picky client who I support who keeps pushing me to find a solution for this insufficient system resources issue that occurs while he tries to copy these large Windows backup files. He wants me to be able to determine what the root cause of this issue is and to give him a recommendation on exactly what needs to be done to fix it. He doesn't want to have to rely on these sorts of third party programs or work abounds to resolve issues like this.

    I'm simply trying to find out if there are any ways at all of resolving this issue that he has been having.
    LVL 8

    Accepted Solution

    No, I know of no fixes from MS.
    MS is known for its shortcomings in robust copy, and its been slow to evolve.

    That doesn't mean there isn't some other cause for the problem, i.e., the one I addressed is likely the 'deal' once you have exhausted all obvious (and less-than-obvious) causes, like
     - hardware integrity: deep check of drives and memory and mobo (inlcuding cables and connectors)
     - software integrity: intimate observation of the backup creation (including logs and system logs, etc), and don't forget sfc for windows integrity

    Have you run extended copies yourself while intimately monitoring resources ?

    Check things like
     - how's the health of the registry
     - is the $mft healthy?  (checkdsk /r AND THEN --> testdisk)
     - hows the disk(s) mbr's
     - are there some files and/or pathways that are over-extended (character-wise) {usuallly this problem would become apparent before (ouside of) a backup - but you could look at that
     -  cause 4)

    So there's possibly more of the usual suspects you could stir up with some pro-tools in hand.
    Once you have done due diligence to the usual suspects, then I am looking at my second post as the next bridge, which means...

    If your client is still hell bent on you "fixing" it at the point you have ruled out non-native weaknesses or issues, then its time to invest in change of hardware, but you must make it clear there are no guarantees, either that it will be solved for you, OR that if it is seemingly solved that it will not magically crop up again (over the course of windows updates), and its going to cost probably more than its worth.

    It is for this reason, if I had an otherwise proven good (rockin') server, I would explain to the client why, in my expert opinion (after I threw my toolset at it, of course), a third party professional copy tool" is the correct answer (and commonly used to overcome limitations of native MS copy capability) ...unless he wants to spend lots of money for the satisfaction of maybe seeing it work perfectly native for a while.

    Imo, It comes down to due diligence to make sure you are, indeed, running up against a natural limitation of the employed tools (os, apps, hardware).  

    ...see how we go with that...
    LVL 6

    Assisted Solution

    Another culprit in this that I have personally seen is MS SQL. MS SQL is designed to reserve any memory it sees as available. MS says that this is the intended behavior and the solution is to have SQL on a dedicated server. If your client is running SQL on this server, that could be a large contributor to the issue. In my example, it was causing an issue with backups rather than file copy and still the MS answer was essentially, "working as intended" because of SQL.
    LVL 8

    Expert Comment

    Thank you for the acceptance, Knowledgeable.
    I hope this was helpful to you.

    Author Comment


    Thank you once again for all your help.

    Some customers never will accept that fact that computers and Microsoft products have limitations and shortcomings.

    Featured Post

    What Should I Do With This Threat Intelligence?

    Are you wondering if you actually need threat intelligence? The answer is yes. We explain the basics for creating useful threat intelligence.

    Join & Write a Comment

    Setting up a Microsoft WSUS update system is free relatively speaking if you have hard disk space and processor capacity.   However, WSUS can be a blessing and a curse. For example, there is nothing worse than approving updates and they just have…
    Usually shares are where we want them for our users and we tend to take them for granted. There are times, however, when those shares may disappear causing difficulty for your users. One of the first things to try is searching for files that shou…
    To add imagery to an HTML email signature, you have two options available to you. You can either add a logo/image by embedding it directly into the signature or hosting it externally and linking to it. The vast majority of email clients display l…
    In this tutorial you'll learn about bandwidth monitoring with flows and packet sniffing with our network monitoring solution PRTG Network Monitor ( If you're interested in additional methods for monitoring bandwidt…

    754 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

    Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

    Join & Ask a Question

    Need Help in Real-Time?

    Connect with top rated Experts

    22 Experts available now in Live!

    Get 1:1 Help Now