Why Does It Say Out of Memory? Common Causes and Solutions

Have you ever been in the middle of sending an important email or uploading a document when suddenly your screen displays the message “out of memory”? It’s one of the most frustrating experiences that any computer user can encounter. It can throw a wrench in your work progress and leave you feeling helpless, wondering what went wrong and how to fix it.

The reason why your computer says “out of memory” can vary wildly depending on your system’s specifications, software installations, and usage habits. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a seasoned tech-savvy user or a beginner; anyone can encounter this error at some point. Many people think that this problem indicates that they need to upgrade their RAM. While this might be true in some cases, it’s not always the cause.

The “out of memory” message can also be a telltale sign of deeper issues within your system. More often, it’s an indicator that one or more of your running programs are using up too much memory and causing your computer to slow down. Alternatively, it could be a sign that you have too many background apps running that continue to consume your system resources even when you’re not using them. Whatever the cause, understanding why your computer says “out of memory” is key to avoiding it in the future, boosting your productivity, and keeping your system running smoothly.

Causes of out of memory errors

Out of memory errors occur when your computer lacks the necessary resources to proceed with a task. It can happen for several reasons:

  • Inadequate RAM: RAM stands for Random Access Memory. When you run an application, your computer stores the live data in RAM. If the data exceeds the capacity of RAM, your computer will run out of memory and crash. The more running applications, the higher the risk of a crash.
  • Memory Leaks: Memory leaks happen when a program fails to release a block of memory after the program is done using it. This unused memory will accumulate and cause your system to run out of available resources.
  • Virtual Memory: The Windows operating system uses virtual memory to extend the RAM capacity. It does so by creating a swap file on your hard drive. When you run out of RAM, the system starts using this file to store the data of running programs. If the swap file fills up, you’ll see an “out of memory” error.

Consequences of out of memory errors

When your computer runs out of memory, it can result in a variety of issues. Applications may crash without warning, or you may receive the infamous “blue screen of death.” In some cases, your computer may become unresponsive, requiring a forced restart. These errors can cause a loss of progress and productivity and create unnecessary frustration.

Solutions for out of memory errors

There are several solutions to address out of memory errors:

  • Upgrade your hardware: If your computer has inadequate RAM, consider upgrading it. It’s a cost-effective way of improving performance and avoiding memory errors.
  • Close unnecessary applications: The more applications running simultaneously, the higher the risk of running out of memory. Close/background the applications you aren’t currently using to free up resources.
  • Fix memory leaks: Find which program causes the memory leak and fix the coding. It’s a more advanced solution and requires programming knowledge.
  • Adjust virtual memory settings: Increase the size of your swap file to give more capacity to your computer’s RAM. However, remember that virtual memory is significantly slower than RAM, so an excessive use of it can lead to performance issues.


Out of memory errors can be a hassle, but they are solvable. By upgrading your hardware, closing unnecessary applications, fixing memory leaks, or adjusting virtual memory settings, you can avoid the frustrating “out of memory” message.

Causes Consequences Solutions
Inadequate RAM Blue screen of death or application crashes Upgrade your hardware
Memory leaks Sudden freezing or unresponsive system Fix memory leaks
Virtual Memory System sluggishness or crashes Adjust virtual memory settings

By taking the necessary steps to avoid out of memory errors, you can ensure that your computer runs efficiently and productively.

Common solutions for out of memory errors

Out of memory errors can be a frustrating issue for computer users, causing crashes and freezes. While there are various reasons why these errors occur, here are some common solutions that may help resolve the problem:

  • Restart your computer: Sometimes simply restarting your computer can clear up memory issues. This is especially true if you have multiple programs running at once.
  • End tasks and processes: If you have too many programs and processes running, your computer’s memory may be overwhelmed. Use Task Manager (Windows) or Activity Monitor (Mac) to identify unnecessary programs and processes, and end them to free up memory.
  • Add more memory: If your computer doesn’t have enough RAM to handle the programs and processes you are running, it may be time to upgrade your memory. Check your computer’s specifications to see what type and how much memory it can support.

If you’re still experiencing out of memory errors after trying these solutions, you may need to dig deeper to identify the root cause. Here are a few additional steps you can take:

Check for malware: Malware can cause memory and performance issues on your computer. Make sure your anti-virus software is up to date and run a scan to check for any potential threats.

Update drivers: Outdated drivers can also cause memory problems. Visit your computer manufacturer’s website to download and install the latest drivers for your hardware.

Issue Possible solution
Software conflicts Make sure you’re running the latest version of the software, and check for any known compatibility issues with other programs or hardware. You can also try running the software in compatibility mode.
Too many browser tabs open Close unnecessary tabs or use a browser extension to limit the number of tabs you can open.
File size too large If you’re working with large files, consider breaking them up into smaller chunks or using a compression tool to reduce the file size.

By following these steps, you can eliminate many of the common causes of out of memory errors and keep your computer running smoothly.

Out of memory errors in different programming languages

Running out of memory is one of the most common issues faced by developers while programming. It occurs when there is not enough memory available in the system to execute a program. This can lead to crashes, application freezes, or other undesirable outcomes. In this article, we will explore the causes of out of memory errors in different programming languages and how to prevent them from happening in the first place.

Common causes of out of memory errors

  • Allocating too much memory: Sometimes, developers unknowingly allocate too much memory while developing an application. This can lead to the program exhausting available memory and resulting in an out of memory error.
  • Memory leak: A memory leak occurs when a program allocates memory but fails to release it after it’s no longer needed. Over time, the unused memory keeps piling up, eventually leading to an out of memory error.
  • Insufficient system memory: Even if there is no issue with the application’s code, the program can run out of memory if the system has insufficient memory. This can happen when the system’s RAM is already being used by other applications or processes.

Out of memory errors in popular programming languages

Here’s how out of memory errors typically occur in some of the most popular programming languages:

  • Java: Java has a garbage collector that automatically manages memory. However, if the program keeps objects in memory that are no longer needed, it can lead to an out of memory error.
  • C++: In C++, developers are responsible for managing memory. If developers don’t free up memory after it’s no longer needed, it can lead to a memory leak and eventually an out of memory error.
  • Python: Python has automatic memory management, but that doesn’t mean it’s immune to out of memory errors. If the program keeps creating large objects that aren’t necessary or using recursion that exceeds the system’s limit, it can lead to an out of memory error.

Preventing out of memory errors

Here are some ways to prevent out of memory errors:

  • Be mindful of how much memory the program needs.
  • Free up memory that’s no longer needed.
  • Avoid allocating too many objects.
  • Use memory profiling tools to identify memory leaks.
  • Use asynchronous programming to avoid blocking the main thread.

By keeping these factors in mind and prioritizing efficient memory usage, developers can avoid out of memory errors and improve the performance and reliability of their applications.

Programming Language Common Causes of Out of Memory Errors
Java Allocating too much memory, inefficient garbage collection
C++ Memory leaks due to improper memory management
Python Excessive object creation, recursion beyond system limits

In conclusion, out of memory errors can be an infuriating and time-consuming problem for developers. Understanding the common causes of the error and techniques for preventing it is key to improving the functionality and performance of your application.

Effects of out of memory errors on system performance

When a computer encounters an out of memory error, it can have a significant impact on the performance of the system. In this article, we will look at the specific effects of out of memory errors and how they can impact your computer’s performance.

Impact on system stability

  • System crashes – Out of memory errors can lead to system crashes or freezes. When your computer runs out of memory, it may not be able to perform vital tasks, leading to system instability or complete crashes.
  • Program malfunctions – Programs that require a lot of memory may malfunction or stop working altogether if the system runs out of memory. This can cause data loss or other negative impacts.
  • Data corruption – Out of memory errors can lead to data corruption, which can cause irreparable damage to files on your computer. This can be particularly dangerous for sensitive or important files.

Slow performance

Another effect of out of memory errors is slow performance. When the system runs out of memory, it will begin to rely on virtual memory, which can slow down system performance. This can lead to a sluggish system overall, resulting in delayed responses and longer wait times for the computer to complete tasks.

The system may also experience slowdowns when swapping memory between physical and virtual memory, which can further impact performance and lead to data loss.

Resource hogging

Out of memory errors can also cause programs to hog system resources, causing your system to become unresponsive or slow. Programs that are experiencing memory issues may consume more CPU resources as they try to compensate for the lack of available memory.

In some cases, the system may even begin to swap memory between physical and virtual memory, which can lead to an even greater consumption of resources. This can cause problems not only for the program in question but for the entire system.


Effects of out of memory errors on system performance
System crashes
Program malfunctions
Data corruption
Slow performance
Resource hogging

As we have seen, out of memory errors can have a significant impact on your computer’s performance. Not only can they cause system crashes and program malfunctions, but they can also lead to data corruption and slow performance. To prevent these issues, it’s essential to monitor your system’s memory usage and address any memory-related problems promptly.

How to prevent out of memory errors from occurring

Out of memory errors can be a frustrating experience for anyone, especially if it happens frequently. Thankfully, there are several ways to prevent these errors from occurring. Here are some tips:

  • Restart your computer regularly: This is perhaps the easiest way to prevent out of memory errors. When you restart your computer, it clears any cached data from faulty programs and frees up your computer’s memory.
  • Close unused programs: Running too many programs at once can cause out of memory errors. Make sure to close any unused programs to free up memory.
  • Upgrade your hardware: If you’re running intensive programs or games, it may be time to upgrade your computer’s hardware. Upgrading your RAM or getting a faster processor can significantly reduce the frequency of out of memory errors.

If these tips don’t work, you can also try:

Adjusting your virtual memory settings: Virtual memory is a portion of your hard drive that’s used as if it were RAM. If your computer doesn’t have enough RAM, you can adjust the virtual memory settings to free up some space. To do this, go to Control Panel > System > Advanced system settings > Advanced tab > Settings under Performance > Advanced tab > Virtual memory > Change.

RAM Recommended Virtual Memory
4 GB 8192 MB
8 GB 16384 MB
16 GB 32768 MB
32 GB 65536 MB

Uninstalling unnecessary programs: If you have programs that you no longer use, it’s best to uninstall them. Not only does this free up space on your hard drive, but it can also free up memory that was previously being used by the program.

By following these tips, you should be able to prevent out of memory errors and enjoy a smoother computing experience.

The role of RAM in out of memory errors

Random Access Memory or RAM plays a crucial role in any computer system. It is the main memory storage that temporarily holds data, instructions, and programs that are actively running on a computer. The more memory a computer has, the faster it can perform tasks without slowing down or crashing. However, when the RAM is insufficient, it can lead to various problems, one of which is the dreaded “out of memory” error.

  • What is an out of memory error?
  • An out of memory error is a notification that is being displayed by an application or the operating system when it runs out of available memory to perform a specific task. It is often accompanied by a warning message that states the program will need to be terminated or restarted to free up more memory. This error can cause data loss, system instability, and unexpected crashes.

  • How does RAM affect out of memory errors?
  • RAM is a limited resource in any computer system. When multiple programs are running simultaneously, they compete for the same pool of memory. If the system doesn’t have enough memory to allocate to each program, then the computer may experience an out of memory error. This is especially true for programs that require a large amount of memory, such as video games or photo and video editing software.

  • How can you prevent out of memory errors?
  • One way to prevent out of memory errors is to upgrade the RAM in your computer. Installing more RAM will allow the system to allocate more memory to each program, reducing the risk of an out of memory error. Additionally, you can try closing unused programs and processes, reducing the number of browser tabs open or running only one high memory-consuming program at a time can also help prevent out of memory errors.

Ultimately, the role of RAM in out of memory errors can’t be overstated. Insufficient RAM can cause a domino effect of issues and errors in a computer system, and upgrading the RAM is often the best solution to avoid these problems. Being mindful of the computer’s memory usage and closing programs not in use is imperative to keep enough available memory for the higher memory-consuming programs.

Ensuring you have enough memory is critical to keep your computer running smoothly and to prevent out of memory errors.

RAM (Random Access Memory) Effect on Out of Memory Errors
Insufficient RAM Increases the likelihood of out of memory errors
Upgraded RAM Reduces the risk of out of memory errors

By upgrading your device’s RAM, you will increase its multitasking ability and reduce the chances of experiencing an out of memory error.

Differences between stack overflow and out of memory errors

When it comes to common errors in computer programming, two that are often confused for each other are stack overflow errors and out of memory errors. While both errors can be caused by similar factors, they actually have distinct differences which are important to understand when developing software.

  • Cause: A stack overflow error occurs when a program’s call stack exceeds its limit, causing it to crash. An out of memory error, on the other hand, occurs when a program tries to allocate more memory than is available.
  • Location: The call stack is a memory region which contains information about the active functions in a program. A stack overflow error happens when this region is filled to capacity, whereas an out of memory error can happen anywhere in a program where memory allocation is taking place.
  • Severity: Both errors can cause a program to crash, but a stack overflow error is often easier to identify and solve since it typically happens in a well-defined part of the program. With an out of memory error, the location of the problem may not be immediately apparent, making it more difficult to address.

While both errors can be caused by issues such as infinite recursion or large data sets, it is important for programmers to understand the difference between them so that they can properly debug and prevent them. In order to prevent stack overflow errors, for example, programmers may need to consider how they structure their code and function calls. To prevent out of memory errors, they may need to optimize memory allocation and ensure that resources are being properly managed.

Overall, understanding the differences between stack overflow and out of memory errors is essential for developing effective software and troubleshooting common issues.

Stack Overflow Error Out of Memory Error
Occurs when call stack is filled to capacity Occurs when program tries to allocate more memory than is available
Easier to identify and solve Can be more difficult to locate and address

By understanding the causes, locations, and solutions of these two errors, programmers can more effectively navigate the challenges of software development and create robust, optimized programs that run without complications.

FAQs: Why Does It Say Out of Memory?

1. Why does my computer display an “out of memory” message?

It means that your computer has run out of available RAM (Random Access Memory), and it cannot handle any more data. Your computer may become sluggish, applications may crash, and error messages may appear.

2. What causes the “out of memory” error message?

There could be several reasons, such as running too many applications at the same time, using memory-intensive software or programs, or having insufficient RAM on your computer.

3. How can I fix the “out of memory” problem?

There are different methods to consider, such as closing unused applications, uninstalling unnecessary programs, running a virus scan, or adding more RAM to your computer.

4. Can a fragmented hard drive cause the “out of memory” error?

Fragmentation can cause performance issues, but the “out of memory” message is usually related to RAM issues.

5. Can a lack of virtual memory trigger the “out of memory” alert?

Yes, virtual memory space can supplement your RAM, and the error message may appear if your virtual memory limit is too low or if it’s full.

6. Is the “out of memory” message a serious issue?

It depends on the frequency of the error message and the level of impact on your computer usage. However, if the message pops up frequently, it may cause data loss, stop working applications, and affect system stability.

7. Should I ignore the “out of memory” message and keep using my computer?

No, it’s recommended to address the issue as soon as possible, so the problem doesn’t escalate or become permanent. Otherwise, your computer may become unusable, and you may lose critical files.

Closing Thoughts

We hope this article has shed some light on why does it say out of memory and given you some practical solutions to tackle the issue. Remember to keep a good maintenance routine, prioritize your computer’s resources, and keep an eye on any unusual behavior. Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you again soon!