Fixing virtual memory problems

My laptop and me are recovering from the virtual memory syndrome that very nearly drew me mad and nearly had my laptop end up in the bin. Ever since I got my new net connection (Tata Photon Plus – 950 unlimited) version) I had my head in my hands trying to understand what the hell was slowing down my machine. From the task manager I came to know that firefox was taking up a lot of virtual memory but that was standard. What the hell was happening?  I also kept getting the low virtual memory messages.

I had removed many of the start up processes bundled with my Acer laptop, and the damn machine still virtually hanged there leaving me no room to check the net for what was going wrong here. Exploring the problem in office yielded various solutions such as enhancing the RAM (my 5 year old laptop runs on 256MB RAM though that’s not a justification for really going down to some prehistoric lumbering dinosaurical speed), cutting down various start-up applications (which I did)… these were just a few of the suggestions that I explored and ended up restarting my system as much I kick-started my bike at every damn signal in Bangalore.

Baffled with the same result after undertaking every suggestion to escape from the virtual memory problem, I managed to scribbled a few more keywords on Google and ended up exploring more virtual memory issues, memorizing them faster than my system could boot, and stumbled on the svchost.exe memory leak bug.

Now, this issue seems to be a common enough problem for Technibble to dedicate a full page to it. Technibble is a site that offers comprehensive solutions to your comp problems and from my experience that I am chronicling here I would vouch for the info provided. It particularly affects the Windows XP OS (the same ran on my laptop). The svchost.exe, while an important file, has some bug problem that results in memory leaks (i.e. it takes up a lot of the CPU virtual memory space). Microsoft introduced a patch but it still needed to be debugged by some freeware files available. I followed the processes described in the solution list provided on their page, downloaded the executable files and ran them in safe mode on my system.

The following is quoted verbatim from the Technibble page, titled ‘How to Fix svchost.exe using 100% CPU / Memory Leak‘ (read the whole article for a clearer idea), and is the process I followed to the T. Trust me, it worked or I would not have blogged this in real-time.

How to stop svchost.exe using up 100% system resources (Windows XP Only):

  • Visit the Microsoft website and Download Windows Update v3 WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Download this file fix_svchost.bat (right click and choose save as..) and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Download this file WindowsXP-KB927891.exe and save it to your C:\ drive
  • Reboot the computer and log in to Windows XP in safe mode. To do this, press F8 just before the WindowsXP logo shows up during boot and press up to choose “Safe Mode”
  • Once Windows has loaded and you have the option of which user account to use, log on as “Administrator”.
  • Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the fix_svchost.bat file you saved before, press Open, then OK.
  • A black screen will pop up and white text will scroll past. Wait for this process to finish as it could take several minutes. It will close itself when its finished.
  • Once the black screen disappears, Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the WindowsUpdateAgent30-x86.exe file you saved before, press Open, then OK. Follow the prompts as it installs.
  • When Windows Update Agent finishes installing, Click Start > Run, choose the Browse button and find the WindowsXP-KB927891.exe file you saved before, press Open, then OK. Follow the prompts as it installs.
  • Reboot the computer

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