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  1. #1
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    Question Strange Windows 7 memory problem

    I have been having a strange memory problem with Windows 7 ever since I installed (and re-installed) it.

    Whenever I use a download manager - such as MiPony, Free Download Manager, Internet Download manager - the RAM/virtual memory seems very quickly to max out until the download manager (it's the same with all of them) stops working and reports "lack of system resources, unable to continue" type messages and then the whole system just stops working: i.e. unable to launch any application from the Taskbar or the Start Menu, including Task Manager.

    Strangely, the Desktop is still available -but no application can be launched from it. Any application which was already launched will continue to work so long as no open/save dialog needs to be launched, except, as said, the downloader.

    The only way to get memory back and start working again is to hard reboot the PC - that is, by turning off the power, since the Start Menu, Task Manager, or Desktop shutdown shortcuts cannot be accessed.

    Note that this problem happens only with the download managers mentioned and only when multiple downloads are queued and running. All other working scenarios and applications never cause this problem.

    I have investigated startups and running processes using fairly sophisticated analysers and I cannot find what it is that is draining the resources. It's as though virtual memory and/or the page file is not working - i.e. nothing being swapped out or in as resources are need by the downloader - but that can't happen in Windows 7, can it? There is no obvious cause and my system is clean of malware. I have done and examined Hijack This logs and found nothing untoward.

    I should add that this problem occurs even if the download manager is the only process running other than the normal system tasks and processes. I have shut down every other running process and service that was safe to do so and still the problem occurs.

    I am running Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit on a 500GB hard drive with 2GB RAM. Because of my BIOS setup, I am unable to use more RAM. My security is ESET Smart Security running constantly and Malwarebytes Antimalware for backup, on demand. My internet connection is Hi-speed ADSL2+ through a modem and a LAN switch.

    I hope someone has some advice on where to start looking for the problem, and how to fix it.

    Brian
    Last edited by Brian De B; 2011-04-21 at 15:22.

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    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    Lack of system resources could mean much more than RAM; Handles, Threads, TCP/IP, etc. connections all have limits. Try limiting the number of connection the download managers use, maybe down to 25% of the current settings and test again. If it still happens, open Task Manager to the Performance tab and make a note of the listed usage under the System panel, bottom right. Then open the Resource Monitor from the button below and check for the number of TCP connections in the graph under the Network tab.

    There are probably more clues you could use to track down the problem in the System and Application logs.

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    I agree that it sounds like there is no paging file. Did you check to verify that Windows is in fact managing the page file? It might be worthwhile to set a static page file up, reboot, run it for a while, then change it back to letting Windows manage it.

    The second thought I had is turning off real time scanning on your security programs and seeing what the behavior is.
    Chuck

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    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    I'm not yet convinced it's the lack of page file; I've a netbook here running W7 that has no PF (SSD) and when it hits the RAM limit, the program requesting more RAM simply disappears without a trace. No errors, nothing.

    Start > Run > Dxdiag will give you the current PF usage.

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    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    Check through the event viewer.
    There has got to be an error generated somewhere as a result that may shed some light on this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by satrow View Post
    Lack of system resources could mean much more than RAM; Handles, Threads, TCP/IP, etc. connections all have limits. Try limiting the number of connection the download managers use, maybe down to 25% of the current settings and test again. If it still happens, open Task Manager to the Performance tab and make a note of the listed usage under the System panel, bottom right. Then open the Resource Monitor from the button below and check for the number of TCP connections in the graph under the Network tab.

    There are probably more clues you could use to track down the problem in the System and Application logs.
    Thank you, Satrow,

    I will try the limiting of threads and connections idea, although my intuition tells me that, particularly in Win 7 which automatically manages and optimises connections, the number of connections in the download manager should not matter.

    One of the most frustraing things about this weird problem is that there is never any indications in any of the event logs of anything even remotely relevant, not even when the system eventually freezes up and I have to hard-boot.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Brown View Post
    I agree that it sounds like there is no paging file. Did you check to verify that Windows is in fact managing the page file? It might be worthwhile to set a static page file up, reboot, run it for a while, then change it back to letting Windows manage it.

    The second thought I had is turning off real time scanning on your security programs and seeing what the behavior is.
    Thank you, Doc. I will try that static page file idea. In the meantime, checking shows that Windows is managing the current page file. That real time scanner idea is a good one, but I've already tried it. It made no difference.

    Brian

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    Quote Originally Posted by satrow View Post
    I'm not yet convinced it's the lack of page file; I've a netbook here running W7 that has no PF (SSD) and when it hits the RAM limit, the program requesting more RAM simply disappears without a trace. No errors, nothing.

    Start > Run > Dxdiag will give you the current PF usage.
    Thank you, Satrow, for the Run shortcut.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CLiNT View Post
    Check through the event viewer.
    There has got to be an error generated somewhere as a result that may shed some light on this.
    Thank you Clint,

    as I wrote above, there is never anything in any of the event logs which is even remotely relevant to the problem. It is all so weird: why just with those three downloaders and only when they have a large enough running queue - say about 20-30 200MB downloads - to trigger the problem? It beats me.

    Brian

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    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    You might need to read the series here a few times to get a grip of the limits that are in place in Windows.

    I've attached a snippet from the Processes and Threads article, I hope you can see it clearly.

    You only have 2GB so the more Processes, Threads and Handles that are open, the quicker you reach the wall. Run some tests, first unthrottled (max. connections) and then throttled (5 - 10 connections?) with the download managers, monitor usage with ResMon and see if there's a difference in the number of Threads and Handles in TaskMan.

    You might be able to improve things if the PF is set to 4092MB min. and max.
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    I don't quite buy the memory limitation idea, yet. I'm running Windows 7 Pro 32 Bit at work with 2GB of RAM. I run as many as 10 programs at the same time, even including a Windows XP VM on VirtualBox that's alocated 512MB of RAM. Yes, I run into the limitations of the 2GB a lot. I've been running this config for over a year and its never crashed, nor has it exhibited symptoms as those described by Brian. Simply closing programs gets memory back, and system performance back. I only shut it down on Friday nights before I leave for the day.

    That said, I still think there may be issue with the page file, or some program that has an out of control memory leak. It is not unheard of to have a corupt page file. Although I personally have not seen one for a very long time. Brian, instead of setting a static page file, set it to Zero. That will force Windows to ignore the page file. After reboot, go to Explorer and look for pagefile.sys off of C:\. If its there, delete it. Then go back and reset it so that Windows creates and manages a pagefile. If that doesn't fix it, then you may want to open Task Manager before running one of these down loaders, then clicking the Processes tab and sorting by memory usage. It'll change dynamically as you are working. You might be able to see what's eating up memory.
    Chuck

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Brown View Post
    I don't quite buy the memory limitation idea, yet. I'm running Windows 7 Pro 32 Bit at work with 2GB of RAM. I run as many as 10 programs at the same time, even including a Windows XP VM on VirtualBox that's alocated 512MB of RAM. Yes, I run into the limitations of the 2GB a lot. I've been running this config for over a year and its never crashed, nor has it exhibited symptoms as those described by Brian. Simply closing programs gets memory back, and system performance back. I only shut it down on Friday nights before I leave for the day.

    That said, I still think there may be issue with the page file, or some program that has an out of control memory leak. It is not unheard of to have a corupt page file. Although I personally have not seen one for a very long time. Brian, instead of setting a static page file, set it to Zero. That will force Windows to ignore the page file. After reboot, go to Explorer and look for pagefile.sys off of C:\. If its there, delete it. Then go back and reset it so that Windows creates and manages a pagefile. If that doesn't fix it, then you may want to open Task Manager before running one of these down loaders, then clicking the Processes tab and sorting by memory usage. It'll change dynamically as you are working. You might be able to see what's eating up memory.
    Thanks to both of you, Satrow and Doc,

    I'm going to try all of your suggestions but, Doc, something you wrote reminded me of something I forgot to mention originally and which might hold a clue:

    You wrote: "simply closing problems gets memory back" ... which, of course, should be true. However, that doesn't happen for me in this scenario. Even if I manage to close down the downloader before it quite gets to the stage where the PC locks up, that memory is not returned, nor is the memory returned from any other process closed while the downloaders are running with actively downloaded queues. I've never heard of anything like that before, especially with Windows 7, which is why I'm so stumped.

    I also didn't mention that I know it isn't a hardware issue per se - e.g. RAM modules, CPU or video card - because I have XP installed in a separate partition on that disk and the problem never occurs there. As a matter of fact, I have been reduced to using XP whenever I have a big queue to download until I get this problem solved. Of course, it could possibly be a driver issue - I do have an Nvidia card and the drivers are notorious for resources issues - but there have been no blue screens nor anything appearing in the event logs or Device Manager. It's exasperating.

    Brian
    Last edited by Brian De B; 2011-04-22 at 15:36.

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    Don't rule out hardware issues just because XP runs OK. Different OS & drivers would exercise the hardware in a different way. Most likely it is not a hardware issue but it might be.

    Do you have the most current Windows 7 compatible versions of the various programs?

    Joe

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    Super Moderator bbearren's Avatar
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    I would run sfc /scannow from an elevated command prompt.
    Create a fresh drive image before making system changes, in case you need to start over!

    "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem. Savvy?"—Captain Jack Sparrow "When you're troubleshooting, start with the simple and proceed to the complex."—M.O. Johns "Experience is what you get when you're looking for something else."—Sir Thomas Robert Deware.
    Unleash Windows

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian De B View Post
    You wrote: "simply closing problems gets memory back" ... which, of course, should be true. However, that doesn't happen for me in this scenario. Even if I manage to close down the downloader before it quite gets to the stage where the PC locks up, that memory is not returned, nor is the memory returned from any other process closed while the downloaders are running with actively downloaded queues. I've never heard of anything like that before, especially with Windows 7, which is why I'm so stumped.


    Brian
    Interesting. That's usually how a memory leak behaves. Once the "leaked" memory is used, the program doesn't return it, even when the process is terminated.
    Chuck

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