Memory Leak Found In Windows ME


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From Extreme Tech,3396,s%3D201%26a%3D8748,00.asp

Maybe here lies the problems that ME people have reported with weird slow-downs and pauses while gaming.... I know I had these problems with Tribes 2 and Half-Life, until I installed WinXP, then all those problems went away...


July 19, 2001
Memory Leak Found In Windows Me
By: Mark Hachman
Total posts: 5

The Windows ME operating system from Microsoft Corp. contains a memory leak that has apparently not been fixed, according to a lengthy chain of emails provided by an ExtremeTech reader.
ET reader Matt Vlasaty, a Chicago-based electrical engineer, discovered that when after opening large files of 200-Mbytes or so --such as Outlook email attachments or Usenet downloads—Windows Millennium Edition did not then increase the amount of free memory after the files were closed.

According to the documentation provided as part of Vlasaty's email, Microsoft officials have confirmed the problem and are researching a solution. After initially responding to ET inquiries concerning the problem last week, however, Microsoft officials did not provide an acknowledgement of the problem or an explanation by press time. "We're still working on it," a spokesman said Thursday night, four business days after the original inquiry.

Vlasaty is not alone in his complaint, however; other ExtremeTech readers have also experienced the same problem, according to the following thread.

Originally, Vlasaty thought he had discovered some glitch with the Kernel32.dll file, when used with Internet Explorer and other applications. However, after doing a clean install of the operating system and Outlook Express, the problem occurred again.

Vlasaty wrote in an email that he believed that the memory leak was present, but not immediately apparent with machines containing about 128-Mbytes of RAM, a typical memory loadout for a new home PC. Vlasaty's PC contained a 900-MHz Pentium III, an Intel D815EEA motherboard, 320 Mbytes of physical RAM and a 1.4-Gbyte swapfile. The amount of physical memory is significant, Vlasaty wrote, because the leak would normally be masked by hard disk space being used as virtual memory.

Vlasaty said he reproduced the problem after a clean install of the operating system, and even on the new PCs sold by his local CompUSA retail store.

"I have figured out what the "Me" stands for in Windows Me: Memory Eater!" Vlasaty wrote.

Microsoft makes one reference to a memory leak on its Knowledge Base. web site, a memory leak common to the atmuni.sys file in Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, and Windows Me. However, Vlasaty also said he was able to perform the same actions under a clean install of Windows 98 with no problems, which would eliminate the atmuni.sys leak as the source of the error.

"I did a clean install of Win Me over the weekend due to the problems I was having," Vlasaty wrote in an email to Microsoft's support staff. "To try to isolate the problem, I accepted all of the defaults during the install and then only added the basic chipset drivers for the motherboard… I found that the memory leak issue occurred even with this basic configuration. I tried disabling the items in the msconfig settings as we had discussed before. What I was seeing is that if I started Outlook express and opened a folder with a lot of messages in it (file size around 200 Mbytes), the free physical memory would drop from (about) 182 Mbytes down to (about) 2 Mbytes and some of the swap file would be used.

"I expect this behavior," Vlasaty continued. "The problem occurs when I closed Outlook Express, only (about) 10 Mbytes of physical memory would be freed. I expect the free memory to go back to the original 182 Mbytes. Having only installed the OS and the motherboard drivers, there can only be a few places that could be causing the leak: The application, the motherboard drivers, or the OS.

"Seeing no point in going any further, I thought to try a clean install under Win 98," Vlasaty concluded. "I did exactly the same process above under Win 98. When Win 98 loaded I had (about) 212 Mbytes of free physical memory, then Outlook Express opened it when to (about) 200 Mbytes of free memory, when I opened a large folder, the free memory dropped to (about) 10 Mbytes. When I closed Outlook Express, the free physical memory returned to (about) 210 Mbytes free. This is exactly the behavior I expect. I have finished installing most of my applications under Win98 and my system continues to be very well behaved. I will stay with Win98 until I can find out what was causing the memory leak in Win Me."

Ironically, Windows ME was built upon the Windows 98 code base. Originally, the ME OS was designed to be the first to run on Windows NT code, but Microsoft changed its mind after delays in releasing the Windows 2000 operating system. That code is part of Windows XP, due October 25. Windows ME launched in August 2000.

After providing log files, screen shots, and other documentation of the problem, Vlasaty finally received confirmation of the problem.

"Thank you for your patience during my testing. I have done more testing on my side. The problem could be reproduced definitely," wrote Xiao-Rong "Selena" Wu, a Microsoft support engineer, to Vlasaty's emailed inquiry.

"This particular issue has been reported to our development team and they are currently investigating possibilities for resolution with the HIGHEST priority," Wu wrote. "While we cannot guarantee that this issue will be fixed immediately, we would like to ensure you that we will make every effort to see that it does."

ET provided Microsoft the entire text of the email exchange, with the explicit written consent of Vlasaty.



I used Memturbo, Cacheman, Powertweak, and probably one or two others that I've forgotten about. Although some of them would make some difference, nothing seem to solve the problem I was having.

It's probably one of those deals that doesn't affect everyone. Also, the article says that it's on 128 meg or higher systems that the problem seemed to occur.

I hadn't tried that specific utility you mentioned, but it seemed that in my situation that nothing I tried made no real difference, so it's likely that this utility wouldn't have helped me, either.

Hopefully MS fixes this problem. I'd be interested to know if the few others I've seen post here complaining of a similar problem to the one I was having, if it will help them.
All Windows O/S's are a waste of money... too bad there's nothing else comparable to them. I sure hope XP will be able to top Windows 2000's compatibility and ME's speed and ease of use. If it does I'll rush out and buy it, but if not I'll wait for some service packs.
lol I knew it was time to dump winme when it filled up both a 1gb swapfile and 512mb of ram after just 5 hrs of forum whoring.

win2k has excellent memory management. I just got another phone line (too far out for broadband) and I've got an uptime of 2 days, my mem usage was at about 50% (of 384) and it's actually gone DOWN a little bit :D

Now hopefully winXp fixes the irq bug with win2k. (where acpi sets all your cards to the same irq)
lol I knew it was time to dump winme when it filled up both a 1gb swapfile and 512mb of ram after just 5 hrs of forum whoring.

Windows ME memory/swapfile usage:

And you where saying what again?

Of course, Windows has only been running for about 1.5 hours, so it's not really fair. Still, a 0MB swapfile usage after 1.5 hours isn't that bad, is it?