Out of Memory or Hard Disk Space Errors



Your system may behave erratically if it has insufficient memory or insufficient space on the hard disk.


If your system behaves erratically or reports insufficient memory, the problem can be caused by low memory, low hard disk space or the fact that Windows believes these resources are low. A bad sector on your hard disk can cause Windows to believe that resources are low, since Windows constantly swaps data in and out of memory, to and from your hard disk. A bad entry in the Windows Registry can also cause Windows to believe that crucial resources are insufficient.

In rare cases, one of your computer’s memory chips might be malfunctioning, or the system might need more physical memory.

A problem with insufficient memory can be permanent or temporary. It may occur only if a certain product is running or the problem may seem to occur randomly.


Use the following steps to help diagnose a problem with insufficient memory:

  • 1: Check your Free Memory and Disk Space
  • 2: Remove Unwanted Files
  • 3: Uncover the Applications using most Resources
  • 4: Reduce Resource Consumption
  • 5: Clean Up the Hard Disk Physically

Solution 1: Check your Free Memory and Disk Space

  • Check how much physical memory Windows believes you have installed and available.
    • From your Desktop, right-click My Computer, then select Properties from the Context menu that pops up. The amount of memory, (64MB, for example) appears along with other information on the main system properties page.
    • If this number is smaller or larger than you expect, you should run some hardware diagnostics on your system. Remember that the amount of physical memory you need depends on the number of simultaneous applications you run and how resource-intensive each application is.
    • Furthermore, the system requirements for most programs, including your operating system, are set very low because they are the minimum amount of memory required to run that program. For example, Windows 95 itself requires 4MB of RAM, but that small amount of memory will not run your e-mail, Web browser, word processor, database, spreadsheet and various peripheral drivers. Even with 16MB or 32MB of RAM, you may not be able to run all of the above applications simultaneously.
  • Check the percentage of free resources by clicking the Performance tab of the Properties screen.
    • Ideally, you should have 80% resources free, but it is more common to have 50% or less free.
    • If the value falls below 20%, you may begin to experience problems with your system. Resources are a combination of free memory and free hard disk space.
  • Check the physical size of your hard disk.
    • From your Desktop, select My Computer and scroll down to your local hard drive (usually drive C:).
    • Right-click the icon for that drive, and from the Context menu that pops up, select Properties. The Properties screen for a hard disk shows the disk’s total capacity, the used space and the free space. Gigabytes are abbreviated GB and today’s modern hard drives can run from 1 to over 10GB in size. Megabytes are abbreviated MB. 1GB is 1000 MB.
    • One 3-1/2-inch floppy disk is a little over 1MB. A single page of an image file can take up as much as 8MB. An application, like Microsoft Office, can take up as much disk space as 250MB, depending on the options you’ve installed.
  • Check the amount of disk space an individual folder is consuming by selecting it through Windows Explorer. When an item is selected, the amount of space it consumes appears on the status line at the bottom of the Windows Explorer window.

Solution 2: Remove Unwanted Files

An easy way to free up some disk space is to delete all temporary files:

  1. Select Start > Settings > Control Panel. On the Control Panel screen, select Internet. A multi-tabbed Internet Options dialog box appears.
  2. Click the General Tab. Under the Temporary Files group box, select Delete All Temporary Internet Files, then click Apply. Click Close to close Internet Options box, then close the Windows Control Panel.
  3. Go to Start > Find > Files > Folders. Enter *.TMP in the Name box and click Find now. Delete each of the files found by right-clicking the file and selecting Delete from the menu.
  4. Select My Computer, scroll down to your local hard drive (usually drive C) and open it. Open the Windows folder. (You might need to check the box labeled Show All Files). Open the Temp folder and delete all unwanted files.
  5. Browse your hard drive and remove any folders you no longer need. Make sure you uninstall an application through the Windows Control Panel before deleting the contents of its program folders.

Solution 3: Determine the Applications Using the Most Resources

To determine if a particular program is using excessive resources:

  1. Save your data, then close all running applications.
  2. Press CTRL + ALT + DELETE to display the Close Programs dialog box.
  3. Highlight each program (except Explorer or Systray) one at a time, and select End Task. Please note that you must leave Explorer and Systray running.
  4. After you close each program, look at the percentage of resources now free. This figure can be found under My computer > Properties > Performance.
  5. Try to duplicate the insufficient memory error. If the error happens only when certain programs are loaded, you will have to determine why these programs use excessive resources. Sometimes restarting the system solves the problem. If the problem occurs consistently when a particular application runs, contact the manufacturer of that application

Solution 4: Reduce Resource Consumption

  • If the problem is not consistent, you can check and correct other conditions on your system. In the Windows Control Panel, select the Fonts icon, scroll through the list of fonts on your system, and delete any you do not need.
  • In the Windows Control Panel, select Add/Remove Programs. A list of programs that Windows can remove from your system appears. Scroll down that list and uninstall any applications you no longer need. Restart your computer after each uninstallation.
  • Check you’re the configuration options of unwanted applications that run automatically on start-up, consuming too many resources. Often, you can deselect a box, preventing the application from loading automatically in the start-up group or the system tray. You can move programs from your start-up group to another location. Start-up is under your Windows folder. Navigate to Windows > Start Menu > Open Programs > Startup. Shortcuts for programs that run automatically on start-up are located here. Move them to a new location rather than deleting them.
  • Ask your system administrator to use a tool like the System Policy Editor to remove applications from starting up automatically. Windows 98 comes with system tools you can use also to prevent unwanted applications from automatically starting. Please note that the ScanSoft product applets that run automatically are Pkjobs (for PageKeeper) and OPWARE16 and OPWARE32 (for OmniPage Pro).
  • If you are comfortable with your hardware, you can check Device Manager and delete the drivers for devices that are no longer on your system. Device Manager is either a tab under My Computer > Properties or under the System applet in the Windows Control Panel.

Solution 5: Clean Up the Hard Disk

Use the following procedure to clean your hard disk:

  1. Navigate to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and select the SCANDISK program.
  2. In the SCANDISK main dialog box, select the check box for Thorough. Make sure SCANDISK is set to scan all of your local hard drives, then click Start. Wait until SCANDISK finishes attempting to repair hard disk problems.
  3. Close all running programs.
  4. Navigate to Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools and select the Disk Defragmenter.
  5. In Disk Defragmenter’s main dialog box, be sure all local hard drives are selected for defragmenting, then click Start. Wait until defragmentation is complete, then shut down the system completely.


After you have completed all of the five steps, restart your system to see if the insufficient memory problems are gone.

If your system continues to report a low percentage of free resources, you can try using a commercial application that can repair your system registry, remove viruses, completely uninstall unused applications and regularly clean up unwanted files.

If you continue to experience insufficient memory errors with a ScanSoft product, You can perform a safe mode install of the ScanSoft product. Even if you have tried installing under Windows Safe Mode, you should try this again now that you have cleaned up your system, since you may now get a better result.


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