Microsoft Word: You Are Working Without a Word Work File and Memory is Nearly Full

Microsoft Word: You Are Working Without a Word Work File and Memory is Nearly Full

I have been struggling with a Microsoft Word problem for a few weeks now. Whenever I opened a document and then began changing it, I occasionally received an error message. Once the error message appeared,all the buttons and options within Word became grayed out. This prevented me from saving my work that I had done up to that point. It became frustrating to say the least.

To find a solution to the problem I turned to the Internet. It appears that this error is quite popular as a search in Google produced many results. I tried many of the solutions, but none seemed to have worked for me. It wasn’t until I decided to look further into the error that I found the solution that appears to have fixed the problem.

Word 2003 Error

Word Icon

While working on a Word document I encountered the following error:

You are working without a Word work file and memory is nearly full. Save your work

The error prevents me from saving my work, contradicting the error message, which means that I lost anything that I changed in the document since the last save. The error is also confusing as I have 2GB of memory in the computer that was running word, and there was plenty of memory available.

When I did a search online, there were many results for that particular error message. Some indicate that the problem was from Word 2000, while others from newer versions. I tried various solutions, but none seemed to work. I decided to look further.

The Solution

While reading some of the solutions I noticed that some had made reference to the Word cache size, which is defaulted to 64. While I couldn’t find where to set this in Word, I decided to see if it can be changed in the Windows registry. Usually settings such as this are located in the registry. I managed to find a site that listed the key to change.

The following steps outline the process to modify the Word cache size:

  1. Close any open Word windows.
  2. Open the Windows registry by running “regedit.exe” from a command prompt.
  3. Once the registry editor is opened, navigate to “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Office\11.0\Word\Options”.

    This key is for Word 2003, indicated by the 11.0 version. You will need to navigate to the key indicating your Word version.

  4. Click the “Options” key on the left to display all the values within that key. In an empty location on the right, right-click and select “New->DWORD value”.
  5. Type “CACHESIZE” as the value name and press “Enter”.
  6. Double-click the value “CACHESIZE” to open the “Edit DWORD Value” dialog box.
  7. Under “Base”, select “Decimal”. Under “Value Data”, type “512” (without the quotes).
  8. Click the “OK” button to accept your changes and close the dialog.
  9. Close the registry editor.

When I relaunched Word, I never received the error message displayed above. This registry change seemed to have fixed the error. From what I read, you can set the CACHESIZE value to any value that is a multiple of 64 up to a maximum of 1024. While I can’t guarantee that it will solve the problem if you experienced the error, it may just be the fix you need.

38 Responses to “Microsoft Word: You Are Working Without a Word Work File and Memory is Nearly Full”

  1. Mario says:

    Thanks a lot, %USERPROFILES%\Temp worked fine for me

  2. Antonio Nuno says:

    It also worked for me. Thanks

  3. Georges Vanhove says:

    Thank you Paul Salmon for your kind and immediate reply.
    It seems that in your first explanation , you were advising to use a (new or existing) folder “Temp” being located directly under Username : C:\Docs&Settings\Username\Temp\

    Now you tell us that on your machine, the folder is actually located in the sub-folder “Temporary Internet Files”.

    I suppose you wanted to completely ISOLATE all the stuff related to Word activities, from all the other stuff present in Tempary Internet Files ? It is also much more logical to do so !

    Anyway I got your message. In other words, no matter how, as long as there is an existing folder anywhere on the user account settings on C: drive, it must be referenced (in the indicated registry data), with the correct corresponding pathname.

    This would make Word running without the irritating message, which is paralyzing Word in so many private and business machines. I’m still in test now. If I’m not coming back here it means that the problem as been cured.
    Thank you again.

  4. Georges Vanhove says:

    Forgive me not “to comment” on the article, but to ask a question that might help others as well. I checked following key to verify “Cache” data.
    HKCU\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\UserShell Folders

    The existing data (surprisingly) points to Temporary Internet Files, in this way :
    %USERPROFILE%\Local Settings\Temporary Internet Files

    There is however an already EXISTING folder named TEMP for my account under local settings : C:\Documents and Settings\Georges\Local Settings\Temp

    Should the registry key be modified, so to point towards this TEMP folder, instead of pointing to the existing reference “Temporary Internet Files”. Those files are once in a while erased anyway ! In this case, it’s just like having the cache on a removed USB stick.
    Please confirm what I guess I must do. Thanks.

    Thank you

    • Paul Salmon says:

      The registry key you specified looks good. It is setup that way on my system. As long as the Temporary Internet Files folder is on your local hard drive, you should be good.

  5. Georges Vanhove says:

    Many many people have reported the problem. But a solution is never to be found anywhere.
    HOWEVER “THE SOLUTION” as described above, seems to work, for the time being.
    Thank you for this excellent advice, which seems the only one to be found on Internet.

    I installed it only one hour ago and I’m still testing Word. I guess “The solution” is really THE solution ! I wonder why Microsoft has not been reacting at all with a working fix for this ongoing issue.

    REMARKS:
    1. I can’t figure out who started the topic (where is the name of the author at the top topic ?)
    2. I still have to make the second fix/check suggestion (made by Paul Turner), altough I don’t received the error message so far.
    3. I didn’t understand his follow-up message :
    [quote]To follow up, I should have told you how you go about changing the value of the “Cache” key in Regedit if you need to. Right click on the word “Cache”, NOT on the data value. You get a pop up box, where the topmost line is “Modify” in bold type. Left click on “Modify”. You get a new pop up box where the existing data value is shown and can be edited.[/quote]

    Maybe the whole “solution” should be edited again to make clear for less trained users as myself ? But I guess there will be no need (for me) to come back to this registry key.
    Thank you again.

    • Frank Woodgate says:

      Many thanks, this was very helpful, although the problem has recurred a couple of times. I tried going a step further, increasing CACHESIZE to 1024 (per final para), but the problem still comes up from time to time. Is there any mileage in increasing cachesize beyond 1024 (although you do say this is the max)?

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