Ad-Aware scans freeze in XP Home SP3

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mlmorris

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Jan 27, 2005
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I have a problem with Ad-Aware 2008 Free that I first encountered with Ad-Aware 2007 Free. The problem is that the scan stops (or freezes). With Ad-Aware 2007, the scan stopped when it reached the "Scanning most recently used objects" section (path and object fields were blank). With Ad-Aware 2008, the scan doesn't even get that far. It freezes during the "Scanning files" section at object "...staller\(AC76BA86-0000-7EC8-7489-000000000703)\...(the remainder is not visible). The scan time display keeps running, but to exit the scan I have to close the program.

This problem occurs on an eMachines tower with Windows XP/Home SP3. The computer has a 900 MHz Celeron processor and 256 MB RAM. This computer has been defragmented,and no problems were found when using SCANDISK.

It does NOT occur on my laptop, which is a Dell Inspiron 6000 with Windows XP/Pro SP3. The laptop has a 1.5 GHz Pentium M processor with 2 GB RAM.

The problem occurrence is correlated, I believe, to the installation of Windows SP3.

As part of my troubleshooting, I disabled the anti-virus program (AVG Free v. 8.0.100), the Firewall (Zone Alarm Free v. 7.0.337.000), and the real time scan of Spybot Search and Destroy (v. 1.5.2). With all those items disabled on the desktop, the problem still occurred. Note: the laptop has the same security software, except that Spybot was version 1.4.

I know that the scan freezes (it doesn't slow down), because I let it (v. 2007) run overnight one night. After 14 hours (plus), and no progress, I concluded that the scan had failed.

When the 2008 scan failed, I closed the program. I then opened it up immediately in order to make a note of the scan settings. When it opened, the following message was displayed:

An error occurred
Core Engine
Core Engine Busy​
Suggested Action
0​

The Ad-Aware 2007 settings were:

Ad-Aware 2007 v. 00116.0000

Scanning settings activated:

Unload malicious processes...
Remove malicious LSPs
Scan Tracking Cooking
Scan for MRUs
Deep archive Scan
Unload modules
Deactivate Ad-Watch
Ignore infections with TAI lower than 3​

Other settings deactivated
UI settings:

All deactivated except No animation​

Full scan selected

Because of the SP3 update, I decided to install Ad-Aware 2008 to see if the newer version might solve the problem. It did not.

The Ad-Aware 2008 settings are:

Ad-Aware 2008 v. 0081.0000

Full scan selected

Scanning options:

Processes detected during scan:

Unload malicious processes and modules
Remove malicious LSPs

Scan Tracking Cookies
Scan for MRus
Deep Archive Scanning
Remaining items disabled​

Cleaning Engine

U
nload modules
Remaining items disabled​

Performance Tuning

Deactivate Ad-Watch
Re-analyze Scan Result
Ignore infections with TAI lower than 3​

Auto Scan Options

System

Both disabled​

Ad-Aware Startup

No automated scan​

Windows startup

No automated startup​

Safety

Display update status dialog
Delete restored items
Remaining items disabled​

UI Options

All disabled except No animation
This may be irrelevant, but I updated Spybot to version 1.6 on the laptop, and I still have no problems with Ad-Aware 2007 on that computer.

Neither AVG nor Spybot have found any problems. Therefore my tentative conclusion is that the problem is not due to any malware infection. Since the problem occurs only on the XP/Home SP3 computer, with either Ad-Aware 2007 or 2008, I have concluded that the problem is that the Ad-Aware software has a compatibility problem with XP/Home SP3.

I searched the Ad-Aware forum, and viewed the postings from others who have had scan freezes. But those postings don't appear to address the specifics of my problem. I also posted my question there, but I have not received any response, so I decided to try this forum. I have searched this forum for an answer without success, so I decided to post my question here. Does anyone have any ideas?
 

tomdkat

Retired Trusted Advisor
Joined
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Messages
7,148
I've experienced problems with Ad-Aware inconsistently freezing on a system I have at home. I first ran into the problem with Ad-Aware 2007 and recently, I've been getting crashes in the awservice module with Ad-Aware 2008. This is on a PC with a 1GHz Celeron processor, 512MB of RAM, and Windows XP SP3. I encountered freezes with Ad-Aware 2007 on this system long before installing SP3.

Since you mention your system has a 900MHz Celeron processor in it, I'm wondering if the freezes are related to insufficient CPU horsepower. I've also run Ad-Aware 2007 and 2008 on my mom's machine, which has XP SP3 installed (now) and has an AMD Sempron processor in it and it never freezes.

Peace...
 

tomdkat

Retired Trusted Advisor
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Messages
7,148
I think you're right. After posting my experience above, I realized my mom's machine also has 1.5GB of RAM in it. I now think it's a RAM issue, as you point out.

Peace...
 

mlmorris

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
270
More RAM? Possibly. But I have been using Ad-Aware--and specifically v. 2007--for some time without any problems.

Tomdkat--are either of the two computers you mentioned XP/Home?

And, by the way, I tried using a smart scan on the XP/Home computer, and that scan does not freeze. It is only the full scan that is suddenly causing problems.

Is there something about SP3 that uses more RAM?

Thanks for your help.
 

tomdkat

Retired Trusted Advisor
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
7,148
More RAM? Possibly. But I have been using Ad-Aware--and specifically v. 2007--for some time without any problems.

Tomdkat--are either of the two computers you mentioned XP/Home?
Yep, both systems are running XP Home Edition. Both had SP2 installed and Ad-Aware 2007 installed. The Celeron/512MB RAM machine had intermittent freeze issues with Ad-Aware 2007 and SP2 and the AMD Sempron/1.5GB RAM machine had no freeze issues with Ad-Aware 2007 and SP2. The behavior pattern remained the same after upgrading each machine to Ad-Aware 2008 first and then SP3.

Peace...
 

mlmorris

Thread Starter
Joined
Jan 27, 2005
Messages
270
More RAM may be a solution.

However, I discovered, as I mentioned earlier, that the "Smart Scan" did not freeze. The Smart Scan identified 2 "MRUs" (and remember, the original problem was that the scan would freeze when it reached the MRU section).

Those 2 MRUs (one in the registry(?????)) were removed (using Ad-Aware), and then I tried a full scan. This time, the full scan did not freeze. I don't claim to understand these events.

While troubleshooting this problem, I realized that I was getting a consistent "Virtual memory too low" message during the scan. So I increased it slightly. Perhaps this will avoid similar future problems.

I say that because my XP/Home computer is one of those inexpensive computers bought from a national retailer. RAM is at maximum. I know because I (with the help of a local repair shop) tried to add more. Despite the claim in the eMachines documentation that came with the computer, only single-sided memory boards work in the computer. This was determined after much experimentation. Anything else and the computer will not boot.

So, if the problem happens again, that would certainly validate the "more RAM needed" analysis. And, if it does happen again, then I have 3 choices:

  1. Live with the problem
  2. Uninstall Ad-Aware (and perhaps find an alternative free program)
  3. Get rid of the computer

At the moment, Ad-Aware is working. Thank you for help.
 

tomdkat

Retired Trusted Advisor
Joined
May 6, 2006
Messages
7,148
However, I discovered, as I mentioned earlier, that the "Smart Scan" did not freeze. The Smart Scan identified 2 "MRUs" (and remember, the original problem was that the scan would freeze when it reached the MRU section).
The "Smart Scan" scans less and most likely uses less RAM than a full scan. On both machines I mentioned above, I always ran the full scan. Sometimes it would work on the Celeron machine and sometimes not. I'm finding more consistent crashes of the awservice module with Ad-Aware 2008 on the Celeron machine after a recent update. I'm hoping a future update will resolve this. If not, I'm not sure what I'll do.

While troubleshooting this problem, I realized that I was getting a consistent "Virtual memory too low" message during the scan. So I increased it slightly. Perhaps this will avoid similar future problems.
Well, there you have it. That confirms it being a RAM issue. The "Virtual memory too low" message means the pagefile Windows uses for virtual memory was getting full and it needed to make it larger to have more virtual memory. This means you've exhausted your physical RAM to the point where LOTS of virtual memory is required. This is NOT good. One thing you can try is to not run any other applications when you run the Ad-Aware scan and disable everything that starts when the system starts. The idea is to maximize the amount of free RAM so Ad-Aware won't use much virtual memory. See what happens.

The Celeron machine I have is used primarily for testing so the Ad-Aware issue there isn't critical.

So, if the problem happens again, that would certainly validate the "more RAM needed" analysis. And, if it does happen again, then I have 3 choices:

  1. Live with the problem
  2. Uninstall Ad-Aware (and perhaps find an alternative free program)
  3. Get rid of the computer
Sounds like a plan. On the Celeron system I have, I'm also running SuperAntiSpyware and it doesn't have any freezing or crashing issues at all. You might want to replace Ad-Aware with SuperAntiSpyware and/or MalwareBytes.

Peace...
 
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