The MEM_BAD_POINTER error is a challenging problem to wrap one’s head around. It usually comes up at startup in a dialog window and goes away when you click on the OK button, only to show up again on your next reboot.

The error is associated with the SmartHeap Library, which manages system memory, and indicates that something has gone wrong with an application that depends on the Library. The error is also a symptom of OS incompatibility.

What Is the SmartHeap Library?

SmartHeap is an old technology used to optimize system memory. It was used in older operating systems that couldn’t maximize memory allocation in a multiprocessor and multi-threaded environment. Many old programs used the tool to compile files and modules.

Today, there’s hardly any program that relies on the memory management tool. If you see the error, it is because you have installed a legacy version of Adobe Acrobat, AutoCAD, or CorelDraw.

What Causes the MEM_BAD_POINTER Error?

You now know that if you see the error, it means you have an old program installed on your system. The cause of the error can be traced to that particular program. Here are brief explanations of the root problems:

Program incompatibility

Modern operating systems do not always agree with legacy applications. While newer versions of Windows should have no problems running old apps, support for those apps might have been abandoned by Microsoft and the app developers, resulting in minor issues between the programs and your OS.

Corrupt installation

It’s one thing to have a legacy application that might not be in sync with the operating system, but it’s another to have installed it wrongly. Apart from that, the program’s files might have been compromised by malware or any other system glitch, causing the SmartHeap Library error to occur.

System changes

Suppose you’ve been using the legacy application for a while. In that case, a recent change, such as a new software installation, a new update, or even a new driver installation, might be causing the error. Upgrades are not so kind to legacy applications, as they might introduce certain setups that were not baked into the apps’ code.

Application conflicts

Other applications on your system, especially startup programs and services, might be clashing with the legacy program. You can find out which app is causing the conflict and rectify the problem. You’ll find out how to do that later on.

Problematic registry keys

Certain programs leave registry keys behind after they’ve been uninstalled. The error occurs whenever a registry key attempts to call up a program that is no longer available. Clearing bad registry keys should fix the problem immediately.

How to Resolve the MEM_BAD_POINTER Issue

Now that you’ve acquainted yourself with the likely causes of the error, it’s time to resolve those problems and get rid of them for good.

Fix the legacy application or uninstall it

The MEM_BAD_POINTER error indicates that you have an old program that relies on the SmartHeap Library. It’s also a sign that the program is problematic or not compatible with your operating system. So, your first action is to repair the application.

Repairing the program is easy. You have to go through the Programs and Features window in the Control Panel. Follow these steps:

  1. Press the Windows and R keyboard buttons together or right-click the Start button and select Run once the Power User menu opens.
  2. After the Run dialog window opens, type “Control panel” into the text field and click on the OK button.
  3. After the Control Panel window appears, click on Uninstall a Program under Programs.
  4. The Programs and Features window will now appear.
  5. Next, locate the program, right-click on it, and then click on Repair.
  6. Follow the subsequent instructions on the wizard to complete the process.

If you don’t see the repair option, you have to uninstall the application and install it again. Better still, you can go for the latest version of the program that is developed to work with your current operating system.

Run the legacy application in compatibility mode

We mentioned that the error could be showing up due to compatibility issues. If you’re running the legacy application on a Windows 10 PC, that could be the problem, as the OS might not fully support the app. That said, Windows 10 comes with a feature that allows you to run apps in older Windows environments. Windows 8 or 7 should have better support for the app, so running it in compatibility mode for any of these versions could see the error disappear for good.

If you don’t know how to run the program in compatibility mode, follow these steps:

  1. Right-click on the app’s desktop shortcut and click on Properties in the context menu.
  2. If the app doesn’t have a desktop shortcut, follow these steps:
  • Press the Windows and S keyboard buttons simultaneously to open the search function.
  • Search for the program.
  • Once it shows up in the search results, right-click it, select More, and click on Open File Location.
  • You’ll see a folder containing the program’s shortcut.
  • Right-click on the shortcut and click on Open File Location in the context menu.
  • Once the app’s installation folder opens, head to its executable file (the file with the EXE extension) and right-click it.
  • Select Properties once the context menu drops down.
  1. After the Properties dialog window opens, switch to the Compatibility tab.
  2. Next, mark the checkbox for “Run this program in compatibility mode for,” then select Windows 8 or Windows 7.
  3. After that, click on the OK button.
  4. Check if the problem surfaces again.

Clean up your system registry

Some leftover registry keys cause problems from time to time. If you had a legacy app but uninstalled it, some of its leftover registry keys may be causing the error. It’s also possible that another application’s registry key is clashing with the legacy app and triggering the MEM_BAD_POINTER issue.

In this case, you have to look for those registry keys and clear them out to fix the problem.

Note that the system registry is a sensitive and highly advanced section of your operating system. You can cause irreparable damage if you don’t have adequate knowledge and tamper with it.

We recommend that you go for a specialized application designed to find these problematic keys and get rid of them. Auslogics Registry Cleaner is highly recommended. The program is friendly to novices and experts alike. If you don’t know how to tweak the Windows registry, the tool will restrict its scope to only basic operations that are entirely safe.

That said, the first thing you should do is back up the entire registry. This way, you can quickly get your system back to normal if something goes wrong.

These steps will show you how to back up the registry:

  1. Hit the Windows logo key and R key simultaneously or right-click on the Start button and select Run from the Power User menu.
  2. After the Run dialog window opens, type “regedit” and click on OK.
  3. Click Yes in the User Account Control dialog.
  4. Once you see the Registry Editor window, click on File in the top-left corner.
  5. Click on Export.
  6. After the Export Registry File dialog window opens, navigate to the folder where you’d like to save the backup, choose a file name, and then select All under Export Range.
  7. After that, click on the Save button.
  8. Whenever you want to restore the registry, open the Registry Editor and click on File >> Import.
  9. Next, head to the folder where you saved the backup file and load it.

Now that you’ve backed up your registry, head to Auslogics Registry Cleaner’s official webpage and download the program’s setup file. After the setup file is downloaded, run it. Click on Yes in the User Account Control dialog to allow the setup wizard to run.

Once the setup wizard appears, select your preferences, such as language and preferred installation location, then agree to the license. Once the wizard completes the installation, restart your system.

After your system restarts, launch the program, click on the Scan Now button and leave the Back Up Changes option checked. The process should now begin. The duration of the scan will depend on the contents of your registry and your system’s speed.

Once the scan is complete, the program will list the problems it found, with each problem’s severity level beside it. After that, click on the Repair option to allow the tool to resolve the issues it detected. You’ll see the repair process’s progress, and the program will let you know the status of those registry issues once it’s done. You might see advertisements about other products from the program’s developers.

Perform a system restore

If you have started experiencing issues with the legacy application only recently, it indicates that some recent changes made to your system are triggering the problem in question. It could be a new software program, driver, or system update.

You can resolve the problem by restoring your computer to a previous date. Note that there has to be a saved restore point before you can restore your system. Luckily, Windows typically creates automatic restore points when you make significant changes to your system.

The steps below will show you how to perform a system restore:

  1. Right-click on the Windows logo in the taskbar and click on File Explorer or press the Windows and E keyboard buttons together.
  2. After the File Explorer window opens, go to the left sidebar and right-click on This PC.
  3. Select Properties from the context menu.
  4. After the System window opens, click on System Protection on the left side.
  5. The System Protection tab of the System Properties dialog window will now appear.

Tip: You can use the Start menu’s search function to summon the System Properties dialog. Just open Start and type “system restore,” then click on “Create a Restore Point.”

  1. Click on the System Restore button.
  2. Once the System Restore wizard opens, click on Next.
  3. Select a restore point and click on Next again.
  4. After that, click on the Finish button and allow Windows to restore your PC.
  5. Check for the problem after the process completes.

Perform a clean boot

If none of the fixes above has worked, your next action should be checking for application interference. To do that, you have to perform a clean boot.

Performing a clean boot involves disabling applications and services that are designed to load whenever your system starts. This way, you get to find out whether there is a certain application that is triggering the error. You can also use the clean boot technique to identify the responsible app or service.

Follow these steps to perform a clean boot:

  1. Go to the Start menu, search for Run, and then launch the program. You can also tap the Windows and R keyboard buttons to open Run.
  2. After Run opens, type “msconfig” and then hit the Enter key.
  3. Once the System Configuration dialog window opens, head to the Services tab.
  4. Check the box that reads, “Hide All Microsoft Services.”
  5. Next, click on the Disable All button.
  1. After that, head to the Startup tab and click Open Task Manager.
  2. Under the Startup tab of the Task Manager, select each program and click on Disable.
  3. Once you’ve disabled every program under the Startup tab of the Task Manager, go back to the System Configuration dialog and click on OK.
  4. Restart your system.

If the error doesn’t appear after your system starts, then you have to find the program that was causing it earlier. To do that, enable one service and restart your system to check if the error shows up. Keep going through the rest of the services until the problematic app triggers the error again.

You can follow these steps if going through the apps one by one is too much work:

  1. Open the System Configuration window and switch to the Services tab.
  2. Uncheck the first half of the services you disabled earlier, and then click on the Disable All button. The second half of the startup services will be prevented from loading after your next reboot.
  3. If the error dialog doesn’t show up, then none of the services you unchecked is responsible. Uncheck the rest of the services, click on Disable, and then restart your system.
  4. If the error shows up the first time you restart your system, then one of the services in the first half of the list is what you’re looking for. You don’t have to check other startup items anymore. However, in some cases, more than one app may trigger the error.

Once you find the responsible app, get rid of it or update it.


That’s how to fix the mem_bad_pointer error in Windows 10. You can use the comments section below to share your thoughts and questions if you’re confused about anything.

We recommend that you use a powerful antivirus program if you don’t have one. Issues like these can be the result of malware infection.