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Last post Author Topic: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?  (Read 17297 times)

mouser

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This was posted on Ed Bott's blog today, and it talks about Vista but i think this is applicable for Win2k and Windows XP as well.  I have run into this problem before and it's caused me no end of pain when it happens (sometimes you don't even realize this is the cause but strange things start happening to your computer like programs refuse to open).  I am going to try this right away and i'm excited about it.

Quote
After opening a large number of programs and windows, you try to launch a new program or open a new browser tab or even switch back to an already running program and instead:
  • You get a strange “out of memory” message, despite the fact that you’re using only a fraction of the RAM installed on your system.
  • The window opens but its contents refuse to load.
  • The window opens, but menus are missing, dialog boxes are empty, or buttons don’t work.
...
The problem, as it turns out, is as old as the Windows NT family. I’ve found references to this issue that date back to the mid-1990s and Windows NT 3.1 and 3.5. The fix for Vista, just as for those much older versions of Windows, involves editing a key in the Windows Registry.

First the problem: Windows sets aside a blob of system memory called the desktop heap, which it uses to store user interface objects such as windows, menus, and hooks. The Microsoft Advanced Windows Debugging and Troubleshooting Blog offers a dense, but still readable explication of the problem and why it occurs (it’s a two-part series: read the Desktop Heap Overview first and if your eyes haven’t glazed over read the shorter Desktop Heap Part 2 for details that are specific to 64–bit Windows, systems with 3GB of RAM, and Windows Vista).

The fix for 32–bit Windows Vista is simple: The interactive desktop heap size needs to be bumped up to a value greater than its default setting of 3072KB.


mwb1100

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2007, 09:48:57 PM »
Thanks for posting this - this happens to me every couple of weeks at work.  My fix so far has been to shutdown applications until things start working again.  Better than in the old Win9x days when this problem would likely render the machine unusable until you rebooted.

app103

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2007, 10:42:45 PM »
Oh, yes! Thank you! http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6679/tfr186eg3.png
Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
http://img403.imageshack.us/img403/6316/kiss2mk7.png
Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?


I have been having a prob with this ever since I upgraded to IE 7. It has been driving me crazy.

It causes major probs with Paintshop Pro 7...not only will menus be missing, but it will change settings in the registry when you close and completely screw up things like the layers window, next time you run it. It happens frequently enough that I keep a .reg file handy to restore my settings.

mouser

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2007, 10:47:37 PM »
app this is only for winnt/2k/xp, wont work on win9x.

nudone

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #4 on: July 27, 2007, 01:32:22 AM »
dreamweaver will sometimes complain that i'm low on system memory - even though i'm obviously not. is this the sort of thing this solution will fix?

TucknDar

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #5 on: July 27, 2007, 04:12:07 AM »
Haven't had too many of these lately, but from time to time. Hopefully I'll never see this stuff again... :)

app103

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #6 on: July 27, 2007, 08:36:24 AM »
app this is only for winnt/2k/xp, wont work on win9x.

I have 4 pc's in my house and 2 of them are running XP (my main pc and my daughter's laptop).

Lashiec

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #7 on: July 27, 2007, 09:39:45 AM »
Not to mention Win9x can be far more stable and take a lot more abuse than most people say (or thinks). mouser, when you finish tell us how the thing went :)

alxwz

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #8 on: July 27, 2007, 05:33:03 PM »
I'm having a strange problem with my XP box at work where every once in a while Explorer will go crazy and fill the whole screen with the gray of the task bar (XP is set to "classic" look) or lose the icons of my quick launch bar (which I have dragged out of the task bar and running along the entire right side of the screen) or similar things. When I open search, the search boxes can sometimes be distorted and surrounded by all gray. This usually happens when creating new Explorer windows. Looks like this might be the source of the problem.

Now I've changed to these settings (set to 5120) and hope that things will improve. Thanks!

Regarding Win 9x: I sometimes still use Win 98 SE on an old machine and while it's generally okay, I keep running into the "low resources" problem (running out of user/GDI resources because the resource heaps were too limited by design). I've seen enough descriptions of this problem, but nobody seems to ever have patched it. A similar simple fix for 9x would have been great.

Lashiec

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #9 on: July 27, 2007, 05:50:08 PM »
I think that'll involve some kernel tinkering, and probably no one would want to get his hands on it. Maybe the guys on the MSFN forums would do it, but they probably had to reverse-engineer or disassemble the kernel, and Microsoft would go medieval on their asses (in modern age, lawyers sinking them under a heap of lawsuits).

I'll tell you that it was quite difficult for me to run into those limitations, and that's even trying to reach them.

f0dder

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2007, 06:45:36 AM »
Funny, I've never bumped into this problem with win2k or XP... And I've run lots of apps, very resource-hungry apps, and have had uptimes of 14+ days.

alxwz: I'm not sure there's a simple fix for win9x, parts of the operating system still runs 16bit code from the win3.x days... there's some hard limits there. Basically, don't try to run 3d studio max or other GDI-intensive stuff on win9x.
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nudone

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2007, 07:25:25 AM »
do you use dreamweaver, f0dder?

it's always been a bit of a moaning swine from my experience. i think i'm right in saying it's a common problem with the program.

f0dder

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2007, 07:32:10 AM »
I did for a while, in the dw2/dw3 days - that's long enough ago that I might even have used it on win98se :). Didn't cause me too much problems, and those versions ran fairly well as far as I rememb er...
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Nighted

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2007, 08:52:51 AM »
This happens to me quite often. Very annoying.  >:(
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Lashiec

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2007, 09:46:38 AM »
Yeah, this is quite strange. Although I'll be more than happy to use the fix for future problems prevention, I never saw this bug, neither in XP, neither in Windows 2000. A friend of mine, who does his share of web development, usually worked with Dreamweaver, Paint Shop Pro, the three major browsers, eMule, BitComet and a share of other programs in a 256 MB RAM XP machine, and he never told me anything like that. I myself worked with Visual Paradigm (Java resource hungry app) and Opera with tons of tabs open in a 512 MB Win2000 machine, and no problems as well.

Apart from a high unresponsiveness, of course ;)

app103

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #15 on: July 28, 2007, 10:10:47 AM »
Regarding Win 9x: I sometimes still use Win 98 SE on an old machine and while it's generally okay, I keep running into the "low resources" problem (running out of user/GDI resources because the resource heaps were too limited by design). I've seen enough descriptions of this problem, but nobody seems to ever have patched it. A similar simple fix for 9x would have been great.

Even though you can't really fix the problem on 9x, you at least get a nice resource meter with the operating system, that you can keep in your tray to let you know how things stand. (green is good)

Unlike XP, which you have no idea how close to the limit you are and when things will start screwing up on you. (you only get a CPU meter to keep in your tray, if you minimize the task manager) The only warning I have in XP, is when context menus start missing entries. Then I know bigger trouble is on its way.

Funny, I've never bumped into this problem with win2k or XP... And I've run lots of apps, very resource-hungry apps, and have had uptimes of 14+ days.

I always bump into this problem about every 5-7 days. Yeah, sure, if you close some things and wait, it does get better, but you hit that limit faster and faster till you reboot. It's the reason my uptime isn't what it should be with XP. I have better uptime with my 9x machine. And the problem became worse when I upgraded to IE 7, for some reason. (and I don't use IE 7, directly)

The problem doesn't happen with a few resource intensive apps running...more like when I have a lot of things running (regardless of how resource intensive they are), or many browser windows open, with each having a lot of tabs.

My daughter ran into this problem all the time on her ex-boyfriend's pc while doing photo-work in Paintshop Pro, and didn't really know what it was at the time. It seemed to limit the amount of images she could open at one time, to about 20. After that, new images would refuse to open and the application would start acting weird with the menus.

This is not a setting in the program, as far as I know. It has no limits you can set for the number of images you can have open, and I don't have any limits on this machine with the same version of Paintshop Pro. I can open 100+ at one time (not that I normally would).

alxwz: I'm not sure there's a simple fix for win9x, parts of the operating system still runs 16bit code from the win3.x days... there's some hard limits there. Basically, don't try to run 3d studio max or other GDI-intensive stuff on win9x.

Hardware limitations prevent me from running things like that on my 9x machine, but you can still run some rather GDI-intensive things...just make sure that is all you are running (close anything you really don't need), make sure you have freshly rebooted the machine first, and be prepared to reboot again when you are done.

It's how I run things like Delphi 6 and Dreamweaver 4 on a machine that doesn't meet the min specs for running those applications. I still have problems with TightVNC when there is an active connection, though, no matter what I do.

mouser, when you finish tell us how the thing went :)

I have tried this fix on my XP machine and I will let everyone know how it worked out for me (in about a week or so).

f0dder

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #16 on: July 29, 2007, 12:26:28 PM »
Hm, pretty weird I've never bumped into that problem - I mean, I've done things like having Visual Studio 2005 open with a decent-sized project, paint shop pro 8 with a bunch of images, µtorrent happily churning away in the background, several cmd.exe prompts, screenshot captor, process explorer, thebat, website watcher and plenty more stuff, after a week of uptime... sure, I do have 2 gigs of ram, but according to that article it's because of a fixed-size heap limit, so I should've seen it anyway? :-s

Quote from: app103
Hardware limitations prevent me from running things like that on my 9x machine, but you can still run some rather GDI-intensive things...just make sure that is all you are running (close anything you really don't need), make sure you have freshly rebooted the machine first, and be prepared to reboot again when you are done.
Hehe, good thing I got away from 9x years ago :)

I remember playing with 3d studio max on my win98se... was hellish. I did have to jump through those reboot-and-cleanup hoops, but eventually I'd run out of GDI resources, and I'd have to reboot. Didn't get the GDI BSODs very often though, thankfully.

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zridling

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2007, 03:38:59 PM »
I read the 64-bit, part 2 info on the Desktop Heap, but it didn't offer a fix.  :mad:

alxwz

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2007, 06:19:20 PM »
With 9x, I typically run into the problem with modern multi-tab browsers (Opera, K-Meleon) very quickly.
I do use the resource meter, but it doesn't help a lot here (and consumes some resources itself).

Regarding the XP problem, it seems to be better now, AFAICT.

Oh, I forgot: The 9x resource meter tells you how low your resources are but not which app uses how much. Has anyone seen an alternative resource meter for 9x which can do this? I tried to find one some time ago but couldn't (I think I even tried Sysinternal's Process Explorer which didn't do it, either, if I remember correctly).
« Last Edit: July 29, 2007, 06:25:50 PM by alxwz »

Lashiec

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2007, 06:50:23 PM »
That is quite strange. I've used Opera with tons of tabs open in a 128 MB machine, and I didn't had problems with the resources. Maybe because my computer was disconnected from the Internet?

I don't remember any app like that. Resources usage in Windows is quite random, for my monitoring experience, and some apps consume resources in a progressive scale, like PowerTools, and they only release them when they totally close. Others, like browsers, I think they change depending on the graphical load of the page rendered.

mrainey

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2007, 07:33:13 PM »
I have a total of eight years of intensive work with NT4 and XP, and I've never seen the problem.   Like others have said, it was easy to cause on 98.

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app103

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2007, 10:40:20 PM »
I have a total of eight years of intensive work with NT4 and XP, and I've never seen the problem.   Like others have said, it was easy to cause on 98.

Who can figure computers?

Maybe only people that always have 90+ processes running and multiple browser windows with lots of tabs open in each, have this problem. (that would be me)

Or maybe only people with NEC (Negative Electrostatic Charisma).  :P

Nighted

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #22 on: August 02, 2007, 09:06:11 AM »
I've tried this fix and must say it's made a big difference. The problem seems to be history since the tweak.  :Thmbsup:
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Darwin

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2007, 12:20:59 PM »
Yes this is working for me too, though I had to increase my desktop heap by 2096 to get my system stable (I initially went the conservative route and added Ed Bott's suggested 1024 but experienced the problem again later in the day). I've been trouble free for a week, knock on wood.
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alxwz

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Re: Is this the holy grail to solving windows-out-of-resources bugs?
« Reply #24 on: August 15, 2007, 06:22:00 AM »
As an update: No, the XP fix did not solve my problem.
I ran into the display issues again, yesterday. When I had a look around task manager, I noticed that explorer.exe was using 10,000 (!) GDI objects. Killing explorer.exe and restarting it (I didn't feel like shutting down the machine w/ two dozen documents open) did help. 
Now I wonder how the number of GDI objects could go up that far.