Vista "Out of Memory" errors

Vista "Out of Memory" errors

Summary: You just can't seem to throw enough memory at Vista.


You just can't seem to throw enough memory at Vista.

There have been a number of issues that Vista users have reported relating to copying and moving data, especially large numbers of files. Often there can be multiple errors at play making it difficult for Vista users to track down the problem, in fact very often there is little indication that file copy operations haven’t completed correctly.  It’s only when the user checks the number of files in source and destination that they realize they have a problem. 


The "Out of Memory" error (which is affectionately known at the PC Doc HQ as the "Out of Cheese" error ... don't ask why ...) is one of the biggest and most baffling of Vista’s file handling problems has been occurs when a Vista user (running Kaspersky Anti Virus 6 or 7) tries to copy a large number of files (~16,400).  I know, copying that many files is crazy and not something that people do every day, I'd expect a modern OS to be able to cope with this (am I asking too much???).


These don't have to be large files and the problem can also occur when copying smaller groups of files that in total exceed 16,400 files between reboots.  Following the "Out of Memory" message a range of other errors can occur such as menus and tabs disappearing within the Windows environment and even reboots and BSODs are reported. 

Although the problem occurs where users are running Kaspersky security products, it's a kernel leak that lies at the root of problem (the problem's not confined to systems running Kaspersky software, that just that this application seems to exacerbate the issue).  This issue which has been known about for some months by both Kaspersky and Microsoft was reportedly due to be fixed in SP1, however the current beta of Vista SP1 does not contain a patch.  Microsoft have now released a hotfix for the issue (you have to ask for it) which we tried out and can report that it works well to cure the out of memory problem on Vista installations, at least the ones that we could replicate (although the fix cannot be installed on the Vista SP1 Beta).

While there are still other file handling problems in Vista, such as selecting large numbers of files (~1,500) cause serious spiking in memory usage (that is not released until reboot), hopefully one by one these issues will be addressed (SP1 maybe ... the current beta doesn't fix these issues).  Maybe then Vista users can feel as confident handling their data as when they were XP users.

Topics: Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • Of course you have every right ...

    [i]I?d expect a modern OS to be able to cope with this (am I asking too much???).[/i]

    Hell no you're not asking for too much. How long has Vista has been in the making and they have a simple problem like this? Goes to show the contempt Microsoft has for its customers by pushing out a broken product, then charging an arm, leg, and a left tes... well you know the rest of the saying. :)
  • RE: Vista

    ++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start.

    +++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++

    Yay for pterry and yay for Hex.
    • Pratchett, Unseen University, Anthill Inside

      So That's where I'd come across that term
      thought it sounded familiar
  • 16,400?

    Isn't that just a bit more than 16,384?

    Makes one wonder.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • Other than that being 2^14

      what does that imply? Why is 2^14 the magic number? Why not 2^15?
      Michael Kelly
      • Damfino

        [i]Why is 2^14 the magic number? Why not 2^15?[/i]

        Hey, don't ask me -- I didn't write the code. Long experience (for a small sum you can see the scars) has taught me to be suspicious of magic numbers in software bugs.

        For instance, do you think it's just coincidence that the MSExcel bug hits at 65,535?
        Yagotta B. Kidding
      • It implies you test 16,383 and 16,385

        Anytime you define a buffer size, it is typically 2^x, you better make sure it is large enough.

        • It may be 16400

          It looks like the out of memory error is in the table of openfile handles that is in a block of shared memory managed by the kernel; we don't know exactly how much memory each file handle is associated with: there must be some internal data structure that is hidden behind the numeric file handle. The kernel owns the effective data block represented by the filehandle,and it may bequite big (several kilobytes, including some work buffers, and cached data or metadata about the file, or work variables used by the filesystem device drivers, data compressors, memory mappings...)
          so internally 16400 handles is just what is approximately remaining in the memory pool allowed for each process (don't forget that Explorer already has many other file handles already opened permanently for its own code (explorer.exe, shell.dll module, and other modules, and the handles associated to the directories being viewed and copied from and to).

          Use a process monitor,and investigate the statistics about the open file handles in Vista: it's incredibly high, compared to XP! I don't think this comes magically, and lots of open file handles are leaked, everywhere on the system. This may explain the poor performance (despite of the more aggressive process/thread scheduler in Vista that was normally tuned to offer better perfomance and avoid starvation of threads like it occurs in XP)

          We can suspect new major changes in the Vista kernel, for handling shared resources and exclusive locks; Really the Explorer in Vista is really poor and unfinished, including for its GUI interface with lots of unfinished features, and lots of unnecessary multiple windows and dialogs. I stil think that The XP Explorer is MUCH better and more productive than Vista's Explorer with so many unnecessary dialogs. Vista is really not smart enough. Those that wrote the Vista kernel may be smart, but the Shell has not been written with the same level of quality and testing as the Vista kernel.
  • Out of Cheese - Discworld

    Oh, go ahead and ask. "Out of cheese error" is a reference to Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" series. It is a fantasy series that takes modern concepts and adapts them to medieval/magic-infused methods. Thus, the fax is the "clacks" as there is a network of semaphore towers throughout the land and the clacking sound as they transmit the messages gave rise to the name.

    The wizard school has a computer, HEX, which runs on ants (with the accompanying "Anthill Inside" sticker), powered by a waterwheel with male sheep skulls ("RAM"), displays an hourglass when busy, and has an aquarium for you to look at if you're not actively using it.

    Basically, HEX is the reverse of Arthur C. Clark's claim that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." HEX, being sufficiently advanced magic, is indistinguishable from technology.

    One of the error messages HEX put out was "++?????++ Out of Cheese Error. Redo From Start."

    My favorite is, "+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++"
    • Bingo!

      You got it!
      Adrian Kingsley-Hughes
  • I've seen the error message ...

    I've seen the error message on my new Dell 1501 but assumed is was
    "operator error".
    I've since "downgraded" to XP Professional and all is good.
  • Focus needs to be on critical part

    Yes, out of memory is a pain, leaks are bad, this type of thing should be caught by testers, it has to be fixed. These errors in themselves are bad, however, the beyond critical part is this.

    [B]It?s only when the user checks the number of files in source and destination that they realize they have a problem. [/B]

    Not being told or having to manually reverify copy operations is just a complete showstopper. Yes, that is a large number of files, however, automatic backups, backup to a USB drive, heck, I have dragged my updated music collection (edited tags, new music) monthly from my desktop to my USB drive an a semi-monthly basis (then delete the old directory) to my USB drive often. That is around 11K files (album art included). If I could not rely or just know my OS was absolutely flawless or at the VERY WORST, gave me an error, Linux would be off my system.

    Adrian, keep track of this issue (as I know you will) and does anyone know if the failed to copy happens with less than 16,400 files. i.e. if you are running very hot (almost out of memory), would 300 files fails, etc.

    Adrian, when it fails, are there any partially copied files (i.e. XYZ.mp3 is, on the source disk 3Mbytes, only 2 MBytes got copied, but the file name is present in the destination directory). If so, that makes the manual verify even worse, you have to actually comare sizes?

  • Vista Recall

    A CNet editorialist has called for a Vista recall.

    This is rash, but no more rash than the decision to use Vista to begin with.

    A company that has repeatedly asked its customers to beta test its products
    should never have been given the benefit of the doubt. Every new Windows
    problem is dealt with in isolation, given a band aid, and filed. At no point has the
    cumulative effect been considered, or measured. A massive amount of work and
    expense has been offloaded on the consumer and businessman.

    The PC infrastructure profits from this. It includes the anti-malware industry, and
    the PC "repair" industry, of which, the author is a charter member. Its clear conflict
    of interest, and its been this way for ages. These blogs are commiseration
    sessions. Nothing more.

    The PC support industry isn't doing its job unless it stays on top of the problems?
    It reeks of codependency. It's enablement. But there it is. After all, what are the
    options? I've never seen a larger group that's more prepared to celebrate being
    over a barrel.

    Abandonment of Vista means a return to XP. It also means abandonment of large
    scale parallelism, the leverage of the GPU, the new network stack, the new
    permissions scheme, and all the developers efforts to make things "Vista Ready".
    Its lose/lose. Hooray!

    It's time to consider another vendor. If not to switch, then to augment Windows
    with something other than more Microsoft beta builds. Diverting the capital sends
    a larger message than any string of vowels and consonants on a codependent
    blog. The way to make Windows better, it to ditch it. Until people grasp this,
    they'll fail to understand how truly overrated obedience is.
    Harry Bardal
    • Poor Harry...

      So now Vista must be abandoned because ZDNet authors create blogs for every defect that is reported? The funny thing is that the zealots accuse ZDNet of being pro-MS and anti-Apple yet where is the blog about this bug?
      [url=] Finder crash, files go missing [/url]

      That is only one I picked at random. There are thousands more. The fact is that ZDNet exposes every single problem that anyone has ever faced with Vista while ignoring all but the most egregious, most disgusting snafus caused by Apple. Vista isn't perfect but to suggest that it is worse than OSX because Adrian blogs about Vista problems while Jason O'Grady ignores every single bug in OSX is disingenuous at best. Where Jason to report on every single bug in OSX, then we would see some fairness in reporting levels.

      Unless you now want to announce to the world that OSX is perfect?

      Snicker, smirk :)
      • Hmmm...

        I'm still trying to find where anyone referenced OSX. Oh yeah, that's right. When faced with a position that can't be defended, change the subject.
      • Yes OS X is far more perfect than Vista . <NT>

        • Say what?

          Language parsing taken up a notch. More perfect, as a concept or reality, simply does not exist. Perfection is perfection. There cannot be more or less. If it's less, it's approaching perfection. If it's more, it doesn't exist, and never can.
          Dr. John
      • "Wow, obsess much?"

        Hmm, now what troll posted a message with that subject?
      • Poor poor Zealot.

        I always wonder how much stock you must have in MS to always slam OS X/Apple.
        You must not have made much in the past year. To find issues, you have to go to a
        forum that discusses issues. Do that on a MS forum and you will never boot Windows
      • Well if there are "thousands" then you should be able

        to cut and past what a hundred easily enough. Still no one I know has ever
        claimed OSX is perfect..... just better. The Macintosh hardware is not better just
        gives it's owner more flexibility since it can run it all Linux, Windows, Dos, and of
        course that not quite perfect OSX. Perfection is not something a sane person
        looks for in anything made by man.

        Still I think part of the problem for Vista is expectations. People expected that an
        organization as RICH and POWERFUL as MS with over 5 solid years of development
        would not have some of these problems. Me I'm not so hard on MS but then again
        I'm a realist. What this whole thing does is increase my admiration of the much
        smaller company called Apple. She has far less money, is much smaller (as has
        been pointed out by many a MS fan) and yet takes less time to get her products
        too market. Then there is the comparisions. iPod vs Zune. Vista vs Tiger? Or in a
        few weeks should it be Lepoard. Both companies have their "issues' and often
        they are similar OS issues and hardware issues. Like the FIRST run MacBook heat
        issues and of course the XBox 360 heat issues. Still Apple is the smaller company
        with less resources and by that fact alone Apple gets the props.
        James Quinn