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Paged Pool Memory Exhaustion

My games crash or freeze, usually with the error message "Internal driver error at Present. You're likely out of OS Paged Pool Memory."


This issue primarily affects systems running Windows XP 32-bit (most Windows XP Installations), Windows 2000 32-bit (most Windows 2000 installations), or on other systems with low RAM and a small or disabled page file. Most instances of paged pool exhaustion will result in a message which says "Internal driver error at Present. You're likely out of OS Paged Pool Memory" and a link to this article.

If your system is running Windows XP Professional x64 Edition (64-bit) or Windows Vista/7 (32 and 64-bit), and you have not modified your page file size, then this article should not apply to you. Please see Troubleshooting Game Crashes instead.

What is Paged Pool Memory?

Paged pool memory is used by device drivers, software that tells hardware in your computer how to interface with the operating system and other software applications, such as games. When paged pool memory is exhausted for any reason, it can cause drivers to fail, which results in unexpected problems with applications reliant on these drivers.

Solving Errors Caused by Paged Pool Exhaustion

The only way to avoid errors caused by the exhaustion of paged pool memory is to reduce the amount used by other applications.

  • Check boot.ini or BCD for Increased User-space Allocation


    Improperly modifying system files can cause Windows to stop working. Please follow directions exactly as stated, and if you are not comfortable making these modifications yourself, please contact your system manufacturer or Microsoft support for assistance.

    Certain boot settings for Windows may cause the operating system to allocate less memory for the paged pool.

    • Windows XP
      1. Click "Start"
      2. Select "Run"
      3. Type notepad c:\boot.ini and click OK
      4. Look for /3GB and /Userva=####, where #### is a number. Make note of the value for #### in case you wish to restore these entries later.
      5. If either exists, delete ONLY the /3GB and /Userva=#### text - do not modify any other part of the file.
      6. Save the changes and reboot your system to apply the change.

      Note: To revert this change, simply restore the /3GB and /Userva=#### entries in the exact location you removed them from.

    • Windows Vista or Windows 7
      1. Click "Start"
      2. Type cmd and press Enter
      3. Type bcdedit and press Enter
      4. Look under the "Windows Boot Loader" section for an entry titled "increaseuserva". Make note of the value in the right column next to increaseuserva in case you wish to restore this entry later.
      5. If it exists, type bcdedit /deletevalue increaseuserva and press Enter. The message "The operation completed successfully" should appear.
      6. Reboot your system to apply the change.

      Note: To revert this change, follow these instructions but enter bcdedit /set increaseuserva ####, where #### is the value you made note of earlier.

  • Update Your Drivers

    Outdated drivers can result in greater than necessary use of paged pool memory. Newer drivers may contain optimizations to reduce their usage — please see the Updating Drivers article for information on installing the latest drivers for your hardware.

  • Uninstall Unnecessary Drivers

    While most drivers are not run when a device that uses them is not present, some may. Open your Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features control panel and uninstall software and drivers for devices you no longer use, such as printers or portable media players.

  • Disable Background Applications

    Antivirus applications and background applications that use network, sound, or video hardware may be large users of paged pool memory.

    Please see the Disabling Background Applications article for information on troubleshooting this possible cause.

    Note that even when following these instructions, antivirus applications can still use a large amount of paged pool memory, as many install their own drivers to enable real-time scanning. The only way to test this issue is to uninstall your antivirus application and re-test the issue. If your antivirus application is using a large amount of paged pool memory, you may need to either update your antivirus to a later version or replace it with an application that uses less paged pool memory.

  • Disconnect or Disable Unused Hardware


    Only disable devices that are not needed to maintain the proper function of Windows or your computer. If you are not comfortable making these modifications yourself, please contact your system manufacturer or Microsoft support for assistance.

    As Windows typically does not keep drivers for disconnected or disabled hardware in active memory, disconnecting or disabling devices you are not using may help in reducing paged pool usage.

    An example of hardware you could disable would be your onboard sound card if you have an add-in sound card that you are using instead. It is typically best if the device is disabled in your BIOS settings, which is accessible when you first turn on your computer. Please refer to your computer or motherboard manual for more information on accessing and modifying BIOS settings. Otherwise, you may need to disable the device in Windows Device Manager.

    See the following articles for information on accessing Device Manager:

Resources for Advanced Troubleshooting

If you would like to monitor paged pool usage or wish to troubleshoot using more advanced tools, please see Pushing the Limits of Windows: Paged and Nonpaged Pool

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