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 saw on a client machine recently was:

Instruction at 0x000 referenced memory at 0x000. 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. Right-click on it and choose Run as Administrator. 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 without add-ons.

You can read my previous post on how to avoid installing browser add-ons with malware for help on doing both of these things.

Method 7 – Uninstall Old Versions 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!