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How to identify which application is causing a memory leak in Windows Server 2003


We have a server that appears to have a memory leak and it has just stopped twice in the past month.  There were no events in the logs and no memory dump file either.  The server had to be restarted through the DRAC/console as it was totally unresponsive.

Server = Windows Server 2003 R2 Std SP2

We have some performance monitors running remotely from our system monitoring server and found out the following:

1. CPU Utilization: Appears to be steady.

2. Memory Utilisation: Both Physical and Virtual are trending upwards = last time the server stopped the memory utilization was at around 85%.

3. Objects - Threads: this is also trending upwards.

We are trying to identify which program/service is causing the server to stop.  We have suspicions as to what is causing the problem, but we need to be specific before the vendors will get involved.

Any tips, hints, monitors or methods to help us narrow down which program/service is causing the issue would be appreciated.  

3 Solutions
simple, run taskmgr and then sort the processes tab by memory and see which one is on top.
biggles70Author Commented:
Thats the stange thing - there are a few processes that will swap as the bigggest user of memory.  To add to this those that we have seen on top, in regards to memory, have also given memory back at times.
they may swap as the biggest user of processor time but usually not memory, make sure you are sorting it by the memory colum, if one of the aps has a memory leak you will see it.
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You can also use this to determine the culprit by using Task Manager (as stated above). Simply
add the Handle Count column to task manager, and then watch for processes with thousands of handles
Yes, that will also tell you if you have a progam that has a memory leak then the memory will just keep increasing untill hte server runs out and you have to reboot, if all the processes are giving back as the user sudests then I cant see any of them having a leak, maybe there is not enough memory installed.


hom much ram do you have installed? How much does the vendor you are refering to recomend for the ap?
biggles70Author Commented:
Thanks for the responses so far..

With regards to Task Mgr I have had a look at the Handles and Threads to see if there is anything of note, but nothing much so far.  Have already screenshotted handles, threads, and memory as a base line though.

With regards to the RAM we run the recommended amount as per the vendors specificatioons, and there's actually 2 of these severs in the network.  The other one has the exact same software versions, config etc..  (roughly the same mem usage, handles, threads, etc).  Server has 4GB and currently 2.8GB in use.

It really is weird - the total memory graph trends upwards over time, but there is no apparent main offender - there are about 6 processes that range from 200-350MB, and of these I have seen at least 3 of them get to the top at some point. Most of the memory leaks I have seen are easy to see and show one process at the top of the list growing in size till the server stops.

Just struggling to see what else I can monitor/check to see what is the offending process.
maybe its not becoming  unresponsive due to memory. Maybe you have another issue. If it s  memory issue you would see it in taskmgr. Just a thought
Premkumar YogeswaranAnalyst II - System AdministratorCommented:
biggles70Author Commented:
Thanks to those that commented.  Took nearly 3 weeks for the clear winner(s) to appear in Task Manager.

The vendor is now investigating the problem with the software, but have now advised us to upgrade to a version of the software that they previously didn't want to upgrade to - not sure why, but we'll see how it goes.

Thanks again,

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