Are you having problems with VirtualBox giving out of memory errors?

In a previous post I described how I use Virtual Machines while doing software development.   A few weeks ago I started getting memory errors when I launched a VM without closing down any other VM I had running.  Specifically, I would get a VERR_EM_NO_MEMORY error with a result code of 0x80004005.  I had never seen anything like this before and assumed that after I rebooted my computer I would see it again.  Unfortunately, it did not go away.

Running a single VM at a time isn’t much of a hardship, so I didn’t jump on this problem right away.  Eventually I did some research though, and it took some digging to find any relevant information. Since I had trouble finding information on the problem, I thought I would document what I found in a way that search engines could easily index: a blog post.  That way anyone else who is having a similar problem is more likely to find the solution.

Here is a link to a VirtualBox bug report on the issue.  The short story is that this problem can be resolved by killing the Google Crash Handler process.  Once I did that, I was able to start up numerous VMs as usual. 

It turns out that, for me at least, the Google Crash Manager is being launched by Chrome.  I found a related Chrome issue report.  This page explains that you can prevent the Crash Manager from running when you start Chrome in the first place.  Here are the steps:

  • Hit the wrench button to the right of the address bar to pull up the Chrome menu.
  • Choose Options from the menu.
  • Choose “Under the Hood” from the left hand menu.
  • Find the check box in the Privacy section that says “Automatically send usage statistics and crash reports to Google” and un-check that.

I expected the problem to be resolved before I had a chance to blog about it, but so far I am still seeing it.