This is rare these days, but sometimes you can still encounter a cryptic error message while using your computer. Cryptic errors are errors that don’t really explain themselves.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get an error reference number, which you can find, but if you get an error “The instruction in the specified memory cannot be read”, you’re out of luck.
This particular error can occur at any time, often for no apparent reason. So if you are happily doing your job on PC and suddenly encounter a software glitch and this error, this guide will help you get on the road to recovery.
What exactly is this error?
The actual text of the error is self-explanatory. Information in RAM is stored at a specific address. When the software in question needs information stored at a specific address, it requests it. Sometimes for some reason this process goes wrong. This error tells us that the address is invalid for some reason.
What is causing the error?
Now we come to the real problem. While we know that an invalid memory address was involved, we do not know why the memory address is not valid.
This is one of the reasons why this particular mistake causes so much grief. It could be hardware, software, or the phase of the moon. The good news is that, through deduction and logic, you can track down the gremlin responsible for your memory problems.
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Do some police work
Before we look at specific fixes that might fix this error, you need to prepare a bit. After all, a simple attempt is more likely to cause new problems and not necessarily point you to the true cause of the problem.
The most important thing to do is note when and how the error occurs. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Did this happen after a hardware or software change?
- Does this only happen with one specific application?
- Does this happen regardless of what you do?
- Does it happen randomly or at regular intervals?
If you can gather some circumstantial evidence, it might suggest which fixes are more likely to work. If, for example, only one particular program throws this error, then you better open their technical support page than willy-nilly tinker with your computer.
Be aware of the specifics of the context of your mistake, as we will look at various ways to make this mistake nothing more than a distant memory.
The most logical reform
Since there are so many possible reasons why a bad memory address could cause a little havoc, it makes sense to collect the most reasonable fixes. There are quite a few, so it’s best to start with the ones that are most likely related to your specific error.
If you’re running a hotfix that changes your PC, remember to undo it if that doesn’t fix the problem. If you don’t, you are introducing new variables that make it difficult to eliminate the possibilities. Be systematic!
The simplest solution: ignore it!
This is by far the easiest way to fix the problem, but ignoring the error only works if the cause of the problem is not systematic. Computers and the software that makes them useful are very complex. Sometimes something goes wrong, just once or very rarely.
Therefore, if you see this error once and never again, do not worry about it. If you see it every few weeks or months, you probably shouldn’t try to solve it.
If a memory error interferes with critical work, or if it occurs so frequently that it significantly degrades the user experience, then of course you should look into other solutions. It’s not about worrying about what could be a very rare or possibly even one-time mistake.
More (virtual) RAM please
Virtual memory is a reserved part of your hard drive that acts like an overflow when your physical RAM chips are full. Often, when memory-hungry applications run out of RAM and have nowhere to place additional information, it is lost. When the program asks for information back, it is not there. Which leads to an accident or serious malfunction.
Memory management in modern operating systems is really very good, and quality software products are also built to work efficiently with the available RAM. So in most cases virtual memory is not even needed. However, programs with poor memory management or too little virtual memory allocation for your system can lead to memory errors.
You can of course add more physical RAM, but a quick (and free!) Solution is to optimize the virtual memory paging file. Just follow this guide and your apps will have plenty of room to breathe.
Close background applications
Another aspect under which the same problem can be solved is to reduce the number of memory-intensive applications.
Your internet browser is the main culprit. Every tab you open in a browser like Google Chrome eats up a large chunk of RAM. It is normal for someone to download a game and leave a browser or office suite open in the background. If you are running low on memory, closing some tabs or saving your work and closing applications to improve performance may help.
You may not have programs running in the background, at least not the ones you know about. It is recommended to check how much memory your computer is idle. Itâ€™s easy to do.
On Windows 10, 8, or 7, just press CTRL + ALT + DEL and then click on Task Manager.
If your task manager looks like this
Then click on “Details” to expand it.
Now, on the Processes tab, click the Memory column to rank your processes by memory usage. Look for any processes that are using a lot of memory. If they are not critical, you can end them by right-clicking the process and choosing End Task.
Please note, if you don’t know what the process is, you should google it first. This can be very important!
Turn back the clock
The last few versions of Windows, actually going back to Windows 7, in terms of which operating systems are still in use today, have quite extensive recovery features. In particular, you can use System Restore to roll back major changes that have been made recently.
This could be Windows updates, driver installations, or new software packages. If your memory error started showing up after something serious enough happened to warrant a system restore, it doesn’t hurt to go back to that point to see if the problem is gone.
In Windows 10, you can restore your PC to an earlier state by following these steps:
- First, find “Recovery” in the Start menu.
- Click Recovery. Then click “Open System Restore“.
If any restore points were created before the changes that you suspect caused the error, you can select them here and then follow the instructions of Windows itself to complete the restore process.
If things are really bad, you should consider restarting Windows to restore it to its original state.
Get rid of software culprits
If there is no suitable restore point and there is reason to suspect that a recently installed or updated program is causing memory errors, simply uninstall it using Add or Remove Programs. You can find it in Control Panel or simply by searching in the Start Menu.
Check system files for corruption
If the memory error persists with one of the most common solutions, you can check your system files for corruption using a set of special commands.
You need to run the System File Checker from the command line. It may seem intimidating if you’ve never worked with Windows’ text-based interface before, but if you follow this simple guide, the recovery process will be a breeze. In fact, it is a good habit to use a checker from time to time to prevent various problems.
Using cleanup utilities to remove leftover software junk
In an ideal world, software that you uninstall, update, or update should clean itself up by itself. There are many utilities that specialize in removing this junk when the standard uninstaller does not work.
For example, DDU is a popular utility that cleans up your system of GPU drivers. This is useful when something related to graphics is causing problems. Java is also a frequent guest that simply won’t leave your computer the way it was. So much so that there is an official Java uninstall guide.
Before using any cleaning utility, be sure to scan your software for malware using a service like VirusTotal and read some third-party reviews to ensure it’s legal and effective.
Sometimes memory errors (and any other errors in general) can be the result of mismatched updates. Your Windows installation may have updates automatically, but if your software packages and hardware drivers have not been updated to match the new codebase, this could be a recipe for instability.
First, you need to double check if Windows updates are installed. Then you will want to check if the program showing the error has also been updated. You will also want to download the latest drivers for hardware such as graphics card and motherboard.
Check the status of your equipment
If software solutions do not help, the memory error may have a more serious cause. While no one wants to hear that their computer equipment might be in a quandary, you have to rule out that possibility.
Unsurprisingly, suspicion number one is your RAM itself. Systematically checking RAM for problems takes time, but anyone can do it. See this excellent guide to checking for bad memory.
Even if you run the System File Checker mentioned above, you can check the physical health of your hard drive with CHKDSK in case it has bad sectors or other physical problems.
Create file a Complaint to support
When the “instruction from the specified memory cannot be read” error is clearly the result of a faulty piece of software, there is only one way of doing that that will work – contact with developers.
Errors do happen, and if a game or software package keeps crashing due to this error, there may be nothing you can do about it. So drop an email to support, visit the official forums and get advice on whether you are missing something obvious or is it really a glitch in the Matrix.
Read this common error
It has been a long list of fixes, but there is no reason to let this memory read error derail your work or play.
Stay cool, cross the impossible off your list, and you’ll soon be back to normal.