After solving the problem that causes the Surface Pro 3 (perhaps other versions) running Windows 10 to drop its network connections when docked, I was feeling a bit like Superman. That problem was an evil villain that vexed me for months.
But there remained an even eviler supervillain to battle. Windows 10 has a serious memory leak that causes Runtime Broker to eat up all available memory and to kill performance. Problem SOLVED! ...?
If you follow me on Twitter, you might have seen my regular rants over recent weeks that Microsoft has not fixed a problem that brings my computer to a grinding halt daily--sometimes multiple times daily.
The symptom is degrading performance that, eventually, is so bad that it is unbearable. Opening Task Manager, I find that Runtime Broker is consuming an extraordinary and increasing amount of memory and processor resources. Looks and smells like a memory leak to me.
The processor utilization of Runtime Broker itself (28% in the screenshot above) doesn't even reveal the full extent of the impact the problem. As it eats more memory, the system process has to start paging memory from RAM to disk, which takes even more processing resources and impacts disk I/O performance for 'normal' applications.
Killing Runtime Broker solves the problem, temporarily:
- Open Task Manager (CTRL+SHIFT+ESC or right-click the taskbar)
- If you don't see multiple tabs, click More Details.
- Click Memory to sort by the amount of memory consumed. Runtime Broker will be at or near the top.
- Click Runtime Broker.
- Click End Task.
But the problem will resurface. After a period of time, or perhaps the next day, or perhaps after a restart, Runtime Broker comes back. Like the serial killer in a bad horror movie, Runtime Broker returns to kill performance again. It's the Freddy Kreuger of processes.
I can't even begin to tell you how painful this has been for me. So much time wasted killing processes, restarting computers, or just struggling with terrible performance that impacted Skype calls and more. It's been gruesome.
And I've been quite angry that Microsoft hasn't really responded to the issue. There are many, many, many complaints about it out on the internet.
Among the most useful proposed solutions was to turn off "Show me tips about Windows" in Settings:
- Open Settings (Press WIN+I)
- Click System
- Click Notifications and actions
- Turn off Show me tips about Windows
There were quite a few people who reported that it solved the problem for them.
But it didn't solve the problem for me.
The suggestion I found that really worked (and I wish I could remember where I found it, to give credit to the user who shared it) was related to mapped network resources.
By looking at what resources my computer was connected to on the network, and disconnecting or tweaking them, I believe I've solved the problem. After three days, no runaway Runtime Broker!
In my specific case, I use LIBRARIES in Windows with some folders added to libraries that are on remote machines. That was, I'm pretty sure, the culprit.
I noticed that when I went to a library, I was being informed that "Some library features are unavailable due to unsupported library locations." This happens when you add a folder from a remote machine (a server) to a library, and the server's search service is not indexing the location.
I put together the clues: Unsupported library location (a folder on a server, connected to my machine in a less-than-ideal manner) and runaway Runtime Broker tip about mapped resources and voila I solved two problems at once.
I went to the server, into Indexing Options, and added the folder (that was added to the library) to the index. I allowed indexing to proceed. After indexing finished, and a restart of the client computer (a signoff may have been sufficient, but better safe than sorry), and now my library no longer reports "unsupported location" and Runtime Broker is under control!
Now, some more detail. I actually tested this scientifically. Here's the full process I went through.
- I made the connection between the two problems I was seeing: Library messages and Runtime Broker.
- I first disconnected the folder from the library entirely, restarted the system, and worked normally to see whether Runtime Broker ran away. It did not!
Disconnecting the network resource solved the problem!
- Then, I wanted to see whether it was simply a matter of having a network resource that was causing Runtime Broker to leak, or whether it was an un-indexed location. So I added the folder back to the library, after ensuring that it was completely indexed. Sure enough, now that the location was indexed, Runtime Broker stayed under control.
- Look at what network locations are mapped or otherwise connected to your computer. Consider disconnecting them ALL to start with. You can always add shortcuts to a location, rather than hooking the location into Explorer with mapped drives or libraries.
- If you have libraries that include network locations, make sure they are indexed. This may not be possible if your folders are on NAS devices, etc. You may have to simply disconnect those. Booo!
- Microsoft needs to get their engineering team on fixing this immediately. Any process that can eat 4GB of RAM from a memory leak (which mine did, when I left my computer running overnight) is a demon that must be slain. The good news is, the Windows team under Gabe Aul is excellent and I hope this clue might help them solve the problem for all of us.
I'm hesitant to declare full success because we all know that at the end of the horror movie, Freddy Kreuger doesn't actually die. So I'm still scared... very scared... But for now, I can walk into that dark room alone without hearing that scary music... and at least Windows doesn't die.
On to the next battles:
- Odd, intermittent drops in network connectivity and performance while using Skype.
- Edge randomly losing the ability to copy and paste successfully.
- Edge eating up ridiculous amounts of RAM... Does it really need 1/4 GB for each tab?
And one more note to the (truly astounding) Windows team, some of whom may read this: Don't give up on libraries. They rock. The library construct is a great way to integrate disparate sources of content... to unify our personal and professional lives (sound "aligned"?). There may not be "telemetry" to support investment, but I think that's because there was never enough training and messaging about exactly why they rock and how to best use them. It may be that people simply didn't use what they were never told how to use. I can't imagine how great they would be to unify on-prem shared folders, folders at home on NAS devices, and OneDrive folders. Please invest!
Anyone have tips on these? Please share, along with any comments about Runtime Broker.