Now, that’s a memory leak!

Look at this Task Manager shot:


That’s more than 1.3 gigabytes of RAM that Sidebar.exe is using.

This system, which has a total of 4GB installed, can probably spare it. But still, that’s just a wee bit excessive…

For the record, it’s the first time I’ve seen this, and I might even be able to reproduce the steps. When I killed the process and restarted it, memory usage returned to a more normal 13 megabytes – a 99% reduction.

Update: After a little experimentation, it appears that the Mix07 Countdown gadget is to blame. Buh-bye, silly gadget.

17 thoughts on “Now, that’s a memory leak!

  1. I have my sidebar turned off. So much for vista eye candy.
    What I did notice was the dwm (desktop window manager) mine is always running between 75-99mb.

  2. Ack.

    I’ve actually never used the Sidebar — I diddled with it briefly during the betas and ended up just toggling it off. (For the record, I’m not a fan of desktop gadgets to begin with, so I suspect that’s a big part of why I haven’t used it.)

  3. Vista and XP’s Task Manager views aren’t comparable. XP’s ‘Mem Usage’ column shows the process working set size – the amount of physical memory currently assigned to the process. However, any shared memory – and that includes code and data in executables and DLLs – is counted for each process, so the sum is always greater than the actual amount of physical memory used. An increase in the value could be caused by additional memory allocations, but could also be caused by the process simply accessing a page that it hadn’t used in a while.

    Your screenshot shows ‘Memory (Private Bytes)’. This is a counter of all the virtual memory allocated only to this process (i.e. not shared with other processes). It doesn’t indicate how much physical memory is used by the process. XP’s Task Manager calls this ‘VM Size’. The difference between the two values, if ‘VM Size’ is larger than ‘Mem Usage’, is in the page file.

    Memory leaks on a paged virtual memory operating system typically just end up wasting space in the page file. They’ll eventually be a problem if the page file itself becomes full, which often means it’s grown to fill all the disk space available. Typically, though, the pages on which the leaked bytes appear are never again referenced by the program, so once Windows has swapped them out, they take no physical memory space.

    I’m not contesting that there’s a memory leak – there certainly is! – but it’s not using 1.3GB of your system’s RAM.

  4. Mike, is there some official documentation of what you’re describing? It sounds like something that needs to be spread around a bit more — I’m already having a hard time convincing people that Vista runs as good as XP or better on the same hardware (although seeing is believing for those folks).

  5. Eric,

    From the conclusion of the Tom’s Hardware article:

    “Although application performance has had this drawback, the new Windows Vista performance features SuperFetch and ReadyDrive help to make Vista feel faster and smoother than Windows XP.”

    So on synthetic benchmarks it loses, but in the real world, they appear to be saying, it wins.

  6. Hi Ed 🙂
    Tom’s overall conclusion was that;
    -“Overall, applications performed as expected, or executed slightly slower than under Windows XP.”
    -Gaming was of course horrible (graphics drivers).
    -“If you really need your PC to finish huge encoding, transcoding or rendering workloads within a defined time frame, yes, it is. Don’t do it; stay with XP.”
    -“Our hopes that Vista might be able to speed up applications are gone. First tests with 64-bit editions result in numbers similar to our 32-bit results, and we believe it’s safe to say that users looking for more raw performance will be disappointed with Vista. Vista is the better Windows, because it behaves better, because it looks better and because it feels better. But it cannot perform better than Windows XP.”

    Since putting Vista on my dual-core laptop I’ve noticed the performance difference is not as great as it was on my main rig (P4 Northwood) but is still there.
    I put much of the performance blame on drivers and I do notice a big difference in app load times once you’ve run them a few times. So, thumbs up on Superfetch.
    As you already know, Vista absolutely has the ability to be wicked fast due to improvements in the kernel and memory management. My beef with Vista itself is that there is so much running in the background by default, much of it unwanted and unneeded by the savvy computer user.

  7. I DEFINITELY blame drivers for being responsible for some under-par performance — but once that was fixed, Vista on the same system comes out somewhat ahead than XP. And as far as stuff running in the background goes, if it’s running in idle-priority threads (as many of these things do), doesn’t that ameliorate the impact? (I left Windows Defender and the like on, on purpose, to see if there was any discernible difference when I turned them off, and there wasn’t.)

  8. Mike,

    but his screenshot doesn’t show how much the real physical memory is used by this process. On the machine with 4Gs I would assume, that approx the same amount is used….

  9. I love the idea of the Sidebar, but I’ve had to kill it a few times from it grabbing too many resources. Definitely more reliable now that I’m running a final version and not the pre-release, but I’m considering switching back to Google Desktop anyway.

  10. I have the very same issue! It appears that there is a huge memory leak in the sidebar or in one of the gadgets… I have like 70-80% of the procesor and 400M taken by the sidebar.

    I also have the weather forecast, so maybe that’s the gadget that causes troubles…

  11. On my Vista machines I’ve found the gadget that leaks a lot of memory to be the currency gadget.

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