Windows Application Memory Leaks

Computer use often seems to involve an ongoing struggle to keep applications running smoothly. Security, memory management, and updates can all dominate any normal day while working on your computer. For those that use Windows on regular basis, you know the importance of managing your files efficiently. Windows, however, is susceptible to some unique complications that can affect your entire computer. Memory leaks are a type of computer bug that causes the memory on your computer to decrease, even when it should be readily available.


If your Windows application has fallen prey to a memory leak, you can expect to see a lack of space on the computer even after you have made the effort to close programs properly. The Windows application and the operating system can both be affected. The larger leaks often result in unacceptable response times. An overall slowing down of your computer can occur over time if the leak is not identified and remedied.

When you are using a program on your computer, it uses a portion of the memory. Once you decide to leave that application, however, the memory should immediately be returned to the operating system for use with other items. A leak occurs when the memory is not released. Over time, this issue can cause a severe decline in short term memory. Individuals who run minimal programs throughout the day may not notice a memory leak until it has reached large proportions


You should check your resources in the task manager window regularly to make sure everything is under control. There are a series of graphs that can give you an indication of how your memory is responding to use. The main graph in question is the once titled “Physical Memory Usage History.” This gives you a view of memory use over time, instead of just the present situation. The line should be checked for subtle increases in height. Some normal activity can cause this line to fluctuate. If you have recently opened new programs you may see a spike in activity. Normally, however, this line remains steady. A small memory leak may be causing subtle symptoms and this can help to clarify your suspicions.

You can also identify a leak by paying attention to how your computer is responding during use. If you notice a progressive delay in reaction times, difficulty running programs, or a complete shut-down, you may consider a memory leak. Usually by the time problems are easily recognized, the leak has become quite significant.


A program developer must be the one to repair the leak, however, you can help out by figuring out which program is causing it. To do this, you may have to eliminate programs that are functioning properly, first. The first step of this process is simple.

  • Turn on your computer and access the memory usage monitor.
  • Watch for changes, then let the computer sit in this mode for a while.
  • Make sure all programs are closed during this initial process.
  • If there is no change in the line, your leak is originating in a program that you regularly use after the initial startup of the computer.

By now you should know if the leak is from a basic program that is running, or a different one. You can now start the process of checking your programs one by one.

  • Choose a program and open it, while also leaving the task bar window open.
  • Use the program as usual while watching the task bar.
  • Shut down the program in question and be sure that the bar on the graph declines after use. It is possible that a program is not shutting down properly, as well.
  • Once you identify the program causing the memory leak, you can contact the developer for support.

Take notice that Windows XP does not include a memory usage history graph. You can attempt to check the page memory usage history graph if your computer uses Windows XP. The data, however, may not be as helpful in identifying a leak.


While you are unable to fix the problem without intervention from the developer, there are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms while your wait for help. The developer needs to access the program and apply an update to the code, in most cases. It is best to refrain from using the program in question, all together. If the program is necessary to your daily routine, however, make sure to shut down your computer entirely after using it.

Computers are necessity for most businesses on a daily basis. When they begin to slow down, or programs do not run properly, time can be wasted and revenue forfeited. Issues on home computers can also impede the progress of small business owners and students. It is important to understand the implications of memory leaks so you can keep your computer running properly.

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