Memory leak issue for RIM Blackberry Devices – Especially 8830

*** Update May 8, 2009 ***

Verizon finally did see fit to release the OS 4.5 update and, so far, it appears that it is addressing the issue for us. We set a date of May 15 (approximately 3 weeks after upgrading) as our “OK Date”. This means that folks in our pilot group would have gone 100% longer than before without a recurrence of their messages vanishing.

So, while the memory does still dip significantly in the devices I’ve seen, it appears that the updated OS is addressing the worst of the memory symptoms. Kudos! From the below you could see I was entirely not expecting this.

*** End Update May 8, 2009 ***

We have been having a problem for a while know that has surged to the forefront of our corporate consciousness at the beginning of spring break (April 4, 2009).

Folks on that day began reporting in droves (basically about 5% of my total blackberry user base) that some or all of their email had disappeared, many on that Saturday, but many others on the days after that.

In looking into the issue I discovered that our Blackberry help desk has been fielding similar issues on the order of (anecdotally) 5-10 such incidents per week.

The problem has been largely experienced by our 8830 users. Made more awful by the fact that only this past summer we upgraded most of our handhelds to the new 8830 model.

Facts that I have at my disposal:

  • RIM claims that the memory manager in the 4.5 OS addresses this issue
  • I have a BOLD (OS 4.6.x) that shows massive memory consumption that is corrected by removing and replacing the battery or by simply performing a reset (Alt – Right Shift – Del).
  • People are complaining about this issue whether their devices communicate with a corporate BES or not (in the various forums that I have been reading)
  • The vanishing messages are a normal function of the low memory manager on the Blackberry OS. The priority is to allow new incoming messages and (supposedly) the last resort is to delete the oldest or least accessed existing messages to make that room

This is what I am thinking:

  • The problem is device related and is a memory handling issue
  • The problem has not been resolved with OS 4.5 but rather folks now receive a warning at about 400K of memory so they can take action before messages begin to vanish
  • The problem manifests in devices other than the 8830 but newer devices have so much memory that the issue is masked and wreaks less havoc. My bold can easily get to 6 Megabytes of file free out of 37 that are normally available. That’s 31 Megabytes of space that’s being wasted. That’s also more than double the maximum File Free that I used to have on my old 8830. Except for those apps supplied with the bold, my 3rd party apps are the same on this device as I had on my 8830.
  • The sudden surge in reports stems more from the fact that so many people were going to be out of the office and needed their email accessible on their handheld devices than any sudden change in the environment (indeed, I had been out of the office for the 2 days prior to this issue and I’m the only one making changes to our BES). Unless Verizon is monkeying around with stuff on their network.

RIM is insistent that the issue is resolved in the 4.5 OS. Since Verizon is our primary service provider and they’ve been unable to certify the 4.5 OS for their devices for about a year now, this is not a reasonable solution for us.

Plus, it seems that there are a fair number of other Blackberry users out there who are encountering this issue regardless of their handheld version or OS.

What needs to happen:

  • Short term: I need to create an application that would reset the device on a schedule. One of my team members has found one called “QuickPull” that *almost* fits the bill but needs some tweaks (see below) and can’t be distributed via BES.
  • Long Term:  RIM needs to get off its behind and acknowledge this memory management issue and actually address it. Pull back on the whiz-bang (crappy storm for example) and make sure that the basics are rock solid. Folks needing to reset their devices on a daily basis is just silly.
  • Long Term as well: What’s with this limited memory in these devices? We should be able to upgrade or add memory as we need to. The advice from RIM to “remove applications” and “minimize what you store” belongs back in the late-80’s along with a 640K memory limit and QEMM software!

Specs for reset application:

Since it is going to be necessary to create a workaround to allow folks to use their devices with the security of a corporate email system (i.e. messages not disappearing) I need to find or create a reset application that –

  • Resets the device (reclaims all that wasted memory)
  • Is distributable by BES (ALX and COD files)
  • Operates on a schedule that is user configurable but has a default time set by policy. That time is localized (i.e. 3 am is 3 am your timezone).
  • Prompts user to allow delay or skip of reset
  • Recognizes phone in use and delays reset
  • Can be set to only reset if device is locked
  • Inexpensive

That’s what I have. So far I’ve gotten to the point where I can produce a “Hello World!” app on my handheld. Let’s see how long it takes to address this workaround.

We’ve been working unproductively with RIM – they keep wanting us to delete applications / themes etc.

We’ve been working with Verizon, they’re promising the 4.5 OS RSN (Real Soon Now).

Posted under Blackberry, Opinions, Tech Stuff, Work Portfolio

This post was written by Marc
on April 16, 2009 at 4:25 pm

4,966 views

2 Comments so far

  1. Marc May 8, 2009 8:27 am

    Verizon finally did see fit to release the OS 4.5 update and, so far, it appears that it is addressing the issue for us. We set a date of May 15 (approximately 3 weeks after upgrading) as our “OK Date”. This means that folks in our pilot group would have gone 100% longer than before without a recurrence of their messages vanishing.

    So, while the memory does still dip significantly in the devices I’ve seen, it appears that the updated OS is addressing the worst of the memory symptoms. Kudos! From the below you could see I was entirely not expecting this.

  2. judnaha December 31, 2010 3:07 pm

    “Unless Verizon is monkeying around with stuff on their network.”
    Where else can I read about this?

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