[FIX] Arma 3 Referenced Memory Error on Windows

A lot of Arma 3 players are encountering occasional ‘Referenced Memory‘ errors after the game crashes. This error seems to occur in various different forms (with many different error messages) and with various PC configurations.

Arma 3 Referenced Memory Error

After investigating this particular issue thoroughly, it turns out that several different scenarios have the potential of causing this critical crashes. Here’s a shortlist of potential culprits:

  • Corrupted Game installation – As it turns out, some type of system file corruption affecting the local installation of Arma 3 can contribute to the apparition of this error with Arma 3. This is very common on systems that are currently holding remnants of previous installations of the game. To fix this issue, you need to uninstall Arma 3 and remove any remnant files before clean installing the game.
  • Failing RAM – According to some affected users, this problem can also occur in instances where your RAM stick/s are beginning to fail so the game is unable to handle in-game data swapping by leveraging the random access memory. In this case, you can fix the problem by investigating your RAM sticks and replacing them if necessary.
  • Insufficient Paging File – On Windows 10, you can also expect to see this error due to an issue with how your operating system manages the virtual memory file. It’s possible to see this error due to the way your OS handles heap dumps. In this case, enlarging the paging file should fix these types of crashes.

Now that you know every potential culprit, here’s a list of methods that other affected users have successfully used to get around the ‘Referenced Memory‘ error in Arma 3:

Method 1: Reinstalling Arma 3 & Remove Remnant Files

First things first, you should start this troubleshooting guide by making sure that you’re not dealing with some kind of file corruption that’s currently affecting the local installation of Arma 3.

Several affected users have confirmed that the game crashes have completely stopped after they have reinstalled the game and cleared any remnant files in between installations. This seems to suggest the possibility that the Referenced Memory error might occur due to corrupted data that are affecting the local installation.

Update: Previously installed mods are known to cause this problem, so make sure you don’t skip this method if you’ve previously used a modded version of Arma 3.

If this scenario looks like it could be applicable and you haven’t tried reinstalling the game yet, follow the instructions below to do a reinstall and remove any remnant files from the initial installation:

  1. Press Windows key + R to open up a Run dialog box. Inside the text box, type ‘appwiz.cpl’ and press Enter to open up the Programs and Features menu.
    Opening the Programs and Features menu
  2. Inside the Programs and Features menu, scroll down through the list of installed programs and locate your Arma 3 installation. When you manage to locate it, right-click on it and choose Uninstall from the newly appeared context menu.
    Uninstalling Arma 3
  3. Inside the uninstallation screen, follow the on-screen prompts to complete the uninstallation.
  4. Open File Explorer and navigate to the My Documents folder of Arma 3. By default, that location is:
    \Users\*YOUR USERNAME*\Documents\Arma 3

    Note: *YOUR USERNAME* is just a placeholder. Replace it with the actual name of your particular username.

  5. Once you arrive at the correct location, go ahead and delete the Arma 3 folder after backing it up in advance.
  6. If you’re launching the game through Steam, navigate to the following location and delete the Arma 3 folder:
    \Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common\Arma 3

    Note: If you haven’t installed the game through Steam, skip this step altogether.

  7. Restart your computer and wait for the next startup to complete. Once the next startup is complete, reinstall the game normally and make sure to open the installer (or Steam) with admin access by right-clicking on it and choosing Run as Administrator.
  8. Launch the game once again and see if the problem is now fixed.

In case you’re still experiencing the same type of ‘Referenced Memory‘ crashes when attempting to play Arma 3, move down to the next method below.

Method 2: Checking the State of your RAM

Since this problem is sometimes related to a RAM component that is beginning to fail our recommendation is to go through the trouble of checking your memory with MemTest86 – The free version of this tool will allow you to run a diagnostic on your memory and determine whether it’s beginning to fail or not.

Several affected users that were also encountering the ‘Referenced Memory‘ error in Arma 3 have confirmed that running a diagnostic on their RAM has revealed that the memory was failing. Unfortunately, in this case, the only viable fix is to replace your failing hardware with a healthy equivalent.

If you suspect that your RAM stick/s might be responsible for this crash in Arma 3, follow the instructions below to perform a MemTest86 check:

  1. Open your default browser and navigate to the download page of MemTest86.
  2. Once you’re on the correct page, click on the Download button to download the free version of MemTest86.
    Downloading MemTest86
  3. Once the download is complete, use an extraction utility like 7 Zip, WinZip, or WinRar to extract the contents of the memtest86-usb archive.
  4. Next, follow the instructions supplied by the official documentation to create a USB drive that will later be used to stress-test your RAM.
  5. Use MemTest86 as instructed and see if the problem is caused by your RAM stick/s.

If the problem is indeed being caused by a failing RAM component, the only viable fix is to go for a replacement.

On the other hand, if the scan has revealed that the problem is not caused by your memory, move down to the next potential fix below.

Method 3: Enlarging the Virtual Memory file (if applicable)

According to some affected users, you might also encounter this type of crash due to the fact that Windows 10 is struggling to deal with heap dumps generated by running Arma 3. In this case, you should be able to fix the problem by taking control over the paging file that’s managed by your system by default and enlarging it to ensure that the heap dumps are properly handled.

This fix has been confirmed to be effective by a lot of affected users that were previously dealing with the ‘Referenced Memory‘ error.

If this scenario is applicable, follow the instructions below to enlarge the virtual memory file (paging file) from the System Properties utility:

  1. Open up a Run dialog box by pressing Windows key + R. Next, type ‘sysdm.spl’ inside the text box and press Enter to open up the Advanced System Properties window.
  2. Once you’re inside the System Properties window, go to the Advanced tab and click on the Settings button associated with the Performance Options menu.
  3. Inside the Performance Options menu, click on the Advanced tab, then click on the Change button directly under Virtual Memory.
  4. Once you’re inside the Virtual Memory window, uncheck the box associate with Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. 
  5. Next, select your OS drive from the box under Paging file size for each drive, then select the toggle associated with Custom size. 
  6. Set the Initial size to at least 3500 MB and the maximum size to 7000 MB. Next, click on the Set button to enforce the change.
  7. Save the change, then restart your computer and see if the crashes stop occurring
Enlarging the Paging file

In case the same problem is still occurring, move down to the next potential fix below.

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

Expert Tip

[FIX] Arma 3 Referenced Memory Error on Windows

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