It’s rare these days, but sometimes you can still run into a cryptic error message while using your computer. Cryptic errors are ones that don’t really explain themselves.

If you are lucky, you’ll get an error reference number you can look up, but in the case of the “Instruction at Referenced Memory Could Not Be Read” error, you have no such luck.

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Then click More Details to expand it.


Now, under the Processes tab, click on the Memory column to arrange processes by memory use. Look for any processes that are using a large amount of memory. If they aren’t critical, you can end them by right-clicking on a process and selecting End Task

Just be warned that if you don’t know what a process is, you should Google it first. If might be pretty important!

Turn Back Time

The last few versions of Windows, effectively back to Windows 7 in terms of which operating systems are still in use today, have some pretty comprehensive recovery features. Specifically you can use System Restore to roll back major changes that have been made recently. 

These can be Windows updates, driver installations or new software packages. If your memory error started popping up after something big enough to warrant a system restore point happened, it can’t hurt to go back to before that point to see if the issue clears up.

In Windows 10 you can restore your computer to an earlier point by doing the following:

First, search for Recovery in the Start Menu.Click on Recovery. Then click Open System Restore.

If any restore points were created before the changes you suspect have brought on the error, you can select them here and then follow the instructions from Windows itself to complete the restoration process.

If things are really dire, you should consider resetting Windows in order to restore it to a pristine state.

Evict a Software Culprit

If there is no restore point that’s appropriate and you have reason to suspect that a recently installed or updated program is the cause of your memory errors, then simply uninstall it using the Add or Remove Programs function. You’ll find it in the Control Panel or by simply searching for it in the Start Menu.

Check For System File Corruption

If the memory error isn’t being eliminated by one of the more common solutions, you can check your system files for corruption by using a set of special commands. 

You need to run the System File Checker from the Command Prompt. That might sound intimidating if you’ve never worked with the text-based Windows interface before, but if you follow this simple guide getting that repair process going is a doddle. In fact, it’s a good habit to use the checker from time to time to preempt a variety of problems.

Use Cleaner Utilities to Remove Leftover Software Junk

In a perfect world software you remove, upgrade or update should clean up after itself. There are many utilities out there that specialize in removing this crud where the standard uninstallers fail. 

For example, DDU is a popular utility that scrubs your system clean of GPU drivers. It’s useful when anything graphics-related is causing issues. Java is also a common guest that just won’t leave your computer the way it found it. So much so that there’s an official Java removal guide.

Before you use any sort of cleanup utility, be sure to scan the software for malware with a service like VirusTotal and read some third-party reviews to make sure it’s legitimate and effective.

Update Everything

Sometimes memory errors (and any other error really) can be the result of update mismatches. Your Windows installation might have updates automatically, but if your software packages and hardware drivers have not been updated to match the new codebase, it may be a recipe for instability.

First, you’ll want to double check that Windows updates have been installed. Next you’ll want to check that the program exhibiting the error has also been updated. You’ll also want to download the latest drivers for hardware like your graphics card and motherboard. 

Check Your Hardware Health

If software-based solutions don’t seem to be doing the trick, the memory error might have a more serious cause. While no one wants to hear that their computer hardware itself might be on the fritz, it’s a possibility that you will have to eliminate. 

Unsurprisingly, suspect number one is your RAM itself. Systematically checking your RAM for problems takes time, but anyone can do it. See this excellent guide to checking for bad memory.

Even if you’ve run the system file checker discussed above, you may want to check the physical health of your hard drive with CHKDSK just in case there are bad sectors or other physical issues with it.

File a Complaint With Customer Support

When a “instruction at referenced memory could not be read” error is clearly the result of a buggy piece of software, there may be only one course of action that will work – contacting the developers. 

Bugs happen and if the game or software package is constantly crashing with this error, it might not be something that you can do anything about. So pop an email to customer support, hit up the official forums and get some advice on whether you’re missing something obvious or if it really is a glitch in the Matrix.

See more: What Does De Rien Mean In French, 12 Ways To Say “You Are Welcome” In French

Getting a Read On This Common Error

That was a long list of fixes, but there’s no reason to let this memory read error derail your work or play. 

Keep a cool head, cross the impossibilities from your list and soon you should be back to normalcy.