My WinXP PC seems to run out of resources way too quickly. I remember having problems like this with old Win98 systems, but thought they no longer existed on XP. I've only recently started noticing this on my XP system.
After I've used the PC for a while, UI graphics start getting messed up (no icons, etc.), window title bars become transparent, windows logoff screen is messed up (see image below). If I try to start an application, I get the following error:
The application failed to initialize properly (0xc000012d). Click OK to terminate.
I read about something called Desktop Heap, which can run out in some cases. But I downloaded a tool that monitors Desktop Heap usage, and it is NOT depleted when the problems appear. So it's not the desktop heap. Judging by the symptoms, it looks like lack of GDI resources. After a reboot, everything is back to normal.
It isn't even hard to reproduce the problems. All that is needed after a reboot is a Windows File Search that searches the whole System HDD. After (or during) the search, the resources are already depleted. Browsing a lot of web pages with Explorer also seems to deplete them quickly. In normal usage, it takes about a day for the resources to run out.
Although the system HDD does have a couple of bad sectors, this does seem more like a software-related problem to me. What do you think could be causing this behavior?
Backups are already in place, but since the HDD still seemingly works fine, I've been waiting until its condition gets worse before replace. Though if the disk causes these errors, it's not very useful as a system disk.
HD Sentinel reports disk health is 92%. Drive fails self-test by read element. Here are the SMART values:
No error message from windows memory management? Does it say anything like "Virtual memory too low"? What does "task manager" have? When this appears, under the "performance" tab (task manager), do you see a stable "Memory" usage? Does it keep going high unusually? There could be a poorly coded background program (process) allocating high amount of memory in the heap causing windows to force shut down its GUI to save resource.
There are error messages like "Not enough resources to do this and this" if I try to do something when the resources are low. Unfortunately task manager can't be run after the problems have begun. It just says "application failed to initialize". Also, I doubt that a background task is causing this, since I try to keep my computers clean of background tasks that are not useful to me. For some reason, a simple File Search seems to deplete the resources. Surely that can't be normal, or there would be a lot more complaints about this from other XP users.
Did you try the link? The article seems to describe the exact problem you have. Perform the registry modification (in the article) before you go into "can't run any application" state. See if the problem persists.
Increasing the Desktop Heap Size did not make a difference, but I think I found a solution.
During a file search, the Paged Kernel Memory value in task manager/performance grew very quickly. When it reached 368640 kb, the search stopped due to low resources. I guess that's the PC's max amount of paged kernel memory or something.
After completely uninstalling Avira AntiVir Personal edition, the paged memory value grew MUCH less during a search and no resource problems appeared. I even tested the anti-virus on another XP PC (which hasn't had any resource problems), and it took me 15 minutes to reproduce the same symptoms there. With another virus scanner, the problems didn't appear.
So the newest version of Avira AntiVir Personal edition seems to take up massive amounts of kernel memory on XP. I believe it's one of the most popular free anti-virus programs, thus one would think that something this serious would be found and fixed quickly. Yet my PC has had these resource issues for months now. Maybe they forgot about us XP users and focused on compatibility with newer operating systems.
Anyway, it's time for me to find a new anti-virus. Due to these findings, I would recommend XP users to stay away from Avira Anti-Virus, as it can hog system resources and render the whole system unstable.