Fix “Instruction at referenced memory could not be read”

With Windows, you never know what crazy error message will one day pop up and scare the heck out of you! One error message that I have seen on a clients machine recently was:

Instruction at 0×000 referenced memory at 0×000. The memory could not be read.

Wow! What the heck does that even mean!? Well, just like most Windows errors, it can be a LOT of stuff. This error can be caused by bad memory, a bad CPU, older drivers, hardware conflicts, and a bunch of other stuff!

With this type of error, you basically have to try a bunch of things and see if something works. Also, think logically about each solution. For example, if your computer is brand new, then you probably don’t have bad memory.

Method 1 – Increase Virtual Memory

One reason you might be getting this error is if your virtual memory settings are very low. You can right-click on My Computer, go to the Advanced tab, and click on Settings under Performance.

Then click on the Advanced tab again under Performance Options and click the Change button under Virtual memory.

instruction at referenced memory

Read my previous article on how to optimize the page file size in order to set the value to the appropriate setting for your computer. Restart the computer and see if the problem goes away or not.

Method 2 – Uninstall Buggy Software

Another reason this may occur outside of possible hardware problems is if you have buggy software installed or visit a website that has buggy code.

If you’ve recently installed some program that is not Adobe, Microsoft, Google, or from some other big and reputable company, try to uninstall it and see what happens. A lot of times it can even be popular software that just has bugs in it.

Also, this referenced memory error happens in software programs related to firewalls, anti-virus, anti-spyware and the like. If you’re using something like that, try uninstalling and see if the problem goes away.

If you have anti-virus software or any type of real-time Internet traffic scanning software, make sure to disable it and see if the problem goes away. If a program is scanning web traffic, you can get the referenced memory error.

Method 3 – Update drivers and install latest patches

Depending on your hardware, you may be getting the error because you computer is not using the most up to date drivers.

The main thing to update here are video, hard drive, chipset and network drivers. Those are usually the main culprits for this type of error. It’s also a good idea to update the BIOS to the latest version.

Also, be sure to install all the latest Windows patches and service packs. There have been several times when the referenced memory errors were being caused by Windows and not anything else. Update Windows, Office, and any other program on your computer.

Method 4 – Perform a System Restore

Hopefully, if you’ve gotten this error just recently, you might be able to restore your computer to a previous state. You can get this error sometimes if your registry has become corrupted.

The registry can become corrupted by a buggy program (like mentioned above),  but sometimes even after it is uninstalled, you’ll still get the error because the registry is still corrupted somewhere.

You can try to perform a system restore and hopefully get to a state before the program was installed. You can also try to download and install a registry cleaner and see if that fixes the issue.

Method 5 – Run System File Checker

Another possible solution is to run the built-in system file checker program that comes with Windows. You can run it by going to Start, Run and typing in CMD. At the prompt, type the following command:

sfc /scannow

Then press Enter. It will scan all the Windows system files and replace any corrupted or deleted ones. You can read my previous post on how to navigate the DOS command prompt if you’re new to it.

Method 6 – Disable Add-ons in Internet browser

If you’re getting the memory could not be read error only in Internet Explorer, it might be caused by a faulty add-on. You need to go to the settings and disable all the add-ons or start up Internet Explorer with no add-ons.

You can read my previous post on how to manage add-ons in Internet Explorer for help on doing both of these things.

Method 7 – Uninstall old version of Java Runtime

Speaking of buggy software, older versions of the Java Runtime Environment can cause this issue. What’s annoying is that even when you update Java, sometimes older versions are left on your computer.

You can read my previous post on how to remove old version of JRE using a free program.

Well, that’s about all I can think about! If you’re still having this issue, post a comment here with the exact error code and I’ll try to help! Enjoy!

Comments [13]

  1. Dale says:

    Very nice article. I just forwarded this guide to one my clients recently and he performed your troubleshooting steps and his issue has been resolved.

  2. lynn says:

    Bless you! :-) I love that your info is very clear and well-explained, so that even the non-techie can follow it!

  3. fahad says:

    Thanks, man! Your article is very helpful.

  4. Scott says:

    Here's what my error says: "The instruction at 0x1002bc30 referenced memory at 0×00000000. The memory could not be read." I'm using Vista Home Basic.

    I don't know what else to do. Send an e-mail if you can.

    Thanks.

  5. hari says:

    Hi,

    I 've installed a wampserver on my laptop and it didn't work so, i uninstall it (via uninstall program and by deleting all word having "wamp" in the register). After, there was an error message of "Microsoft Regiter has stopped working".

    So, thinking about how to solve this error, I did a factory system recovery using DVD recovery discs. But when all 4 DVDs of recovery are all loaded, then the laptop restart, this error appears

    Recovery_HD.exe Application Error

    The instruction at the 0x00401b83 referenced memory at 0x015e3bea.

    The memory could not be read.

    Click ok to terminate the program.

    So, it can't be started because when windows is loading and arrives there, this same message's error appears.

    So, please, what's wrong ? My laptop is new (~6 months yo)

  6. Michael says:

    Im having the same problem, Tried all of these to no avail =(

    I installed a game with my friends cd and key then bought the game and tried to UN-install it but it would act like it was about to bring up the uninstall window but then would do nothing so I just deleted all the files I could find and then Installed with my disc and cd key.

    Tried to patch the game with an update from the official web site but I got this message.

    Spent nearly 2 days trying to fix this problem with many uninstall/re installs and trawling around the net for a solution but no joy.

    Any ideas?

  7. ............ says:

    This error, known as access violation or segmentation fault (short: segfault) is a typical programming bug (e.g. use after free, null pointer dereference, out of bounds array access), so broken hardware shouldn’t be mentioned first on the list.

  8. chandu says:

    Hi scott, did u get the solution for the “The instruction at 0x1002bc30 referenced memory at 0×00000000. The memory could not be read.” problem? … Please do forward the solution to me if you know.. i am facing the same problem……. many thanks in advance

  9. My my says:

    I just have run a system restore, then I deleted all system restore points (very stupid of me). Now I must restart computer to launch internet browsers :(

  10. Rony says:

    Thanks for the article! Only problem is my windows won’t boot- it displays the screen where you choose a user and after I choose mine, the screen goes black and this strange message appears.

    So, since my screen is black, I can’t try any of the solutions mentioned. Any ideas?

    Thanks!

  11. Krstan says:

    Hi, i get the problem no matter what I try to go into other than the internet, the error code appears as follows:

    The instruction of 0xfc127fa6 referenced memory at 0×00000002.The memory could not be read.
    Click on Ok to terminate the program

  12. Dan D. Mann says:

    My problem was caused by a rootkit.

  13. Connor Owens says:

    Hello, I’ve had this error pop up saying memory can’t be read or written. 0×000 or 0x00fffffff or something like that. But now after a few other “windows is working incorrectly errors” I can’t even get to my login screen anymore. Just monitor goes into a sleep mode. Can’t get any bios. I recently took it to my computer store in town. They said it was a faulty ram. I replaced the ram, but still my rig won’t display anything.

    Do you have any ideas what this could be?
    This is a custom built rig that was working fine for over 2 years.

    Thank You

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